At one time the disciples asked Jesus who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven. We may have our own concepts of whom we consider great within the religious community of the church. What distinguishing marks make us look at or even admire other believers?
In the first three verses of 1 Corinthians 13 St. Paul lists a number of skills, spiritual gifts or activities that might be considered as tokens of somebody being a spiritual person. Yet Paul points out that all these things are of limited value if not balanced by genuine love and benevolence.
Here is St. Paul’s list:
- Speaking with tongues (languages) of men
- Speaking with tongues of angels
- Prophetic utterance
- Understanding of mysteries
- All knowledge
- All faith even as to remove mountains
- Giving of all possessions to feed the poor
- Giving one’s body to be burned
I have written many posts on these issues. I have been trying to explain these points in general terms and in spiritual and biblical terms. Probably I did say a number of things you would not have expected me to say. Possibly some of you would have liked me to say more about the practice of the ‘gifts of the spirit’ as done in Pentecostal denominations. Well I may do so at another time or maybe I won’t. For the time being nearly fifty posts concerning the above list should be enough.
If I were teaching on 1 Corinthians 13 in a youth group at church or maybe even in an adult bible study group I might suggest my listeners to make their own list of activities and skills. Having completed this list they might begin making a sentence of each item: “If I …, but have not love…”
I thought of proposing my readers to write in the comments what might be included in such a list and how a lack of love would affect this item. Yet I do not know if some of you would like to do so. If yes, please feel free. If you prefer to keep your ideas private this is fine too.
Here is my list. You may have to alter certain items depending on customary practices in your own church setting. But I hope the list will help you to catch the idea.
- The welcome team at the church door to greet and welcome whoever is attending the service.
- The musician who is playing the introductory music
- The speaker who is welcoming everybody from the stage and who is introducing and moderating the service
- Singers or musicians who lead in the praise session, or who simply lead the congregation in singing
- A pastor or elder who is involved in passing out the Holy Communion
- Any church members who more or less spontaneously contribute some personal report, or some thoughts that might be helpful to others (This will depend on the practice and regulations in the particular church)
- Anybody who speaks a public prayer in the service
- Those who care for graded children’s classes during the service
- Anybody who puts some money into the offering
- Anybody who gives money for people in need
- Anybody who visits and cares for sick church members
- Anybody who passes out an evangelistic tract to some stranger
- Anybody who invites others to a church service or some special meeting
- Anybody who provides coffee, tea or some snack after the service, to facilitate personal conversations
- Anybody who writes and publishes a Christian blog post
- A preacher or main speaker in a service
You see my list is longer that St. Paul’s list. If I wanted I might carry on and find even more items to mention here. I wonder what other activities you would think of.
What if we were to discuss all these activities and think about how a lack of love might affect the value of each of them. Maybe fifty posts would not be enough to write on all of these.