If, then, the whole church meets together and everyone starts speaking in strange tongues – and if some ordinary people or unbelievers come in, won’t they say that you are all crazy? But if everyone is proclaiming God’s message when some unbelievers or ordinary people come in, they will be convinced of their sin by what they hear. They will be judged by all they hear, their secret thoughts will be brought into the open, and they will bow down and worship God, confessing, ‘Truly God is here among you!’ (verses 23 – 25)
Corinth was a vast mixture of temples, shrines and altars to gods of all descriptions. The fledgling Christian church would have been seen by many as ‘just another religion’, following one of the many gods that were around.
Paul urges his readers not to be like this. Who they are, whose they are, and what they believe is to be quite clear. That is why, while he encouraged people to speak in tongues if that was their gift, he urged them to proclaim the word clearly, since tongue speaking could be heard in most of the temples in the city. The Christian gospel was unique, had power, and stirred the hearts of those who heard it.
In our multicultural society many people today see Christianity as ‘just another religion’. We know, however, that we worship the true God, the one who wants all people to be saved. Therefore we too need to proclaim the gospel in crystal-clear terms, so that people in our day may hear it and exclaim, ‘Truly God is here among you!’
Father, may the way I live the gospel clearly proclaim your love for people, so that I can earn the right to speak it to them too. Amen.
by Bob Turnbull, in ‘New Strength for each Day’ (LCA, Openbook, 1998)
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