What are you looking at?

1 Corinthians 14:1-26

Yesterday, a couple of fans at a Tampa Bay Rays game were nearly struck in the face by a foul ball. The event is borderline miraculous. If you watch closely, you can see the rest of the fans around them lean away from the ball torpedoing in their direction — even the players in the Orioles dugout flinch a bit.

But these guys aren’t even paying attention to the play until after the ball has whizzed past their heads. They almost pay a very dear price — and hopefully their HMO would have covered stitch marks to the temple.

Much like this instance, many people aren’t really paying attention to what they’re doing — at all.  We eat and drink without thinking about what (or how much) we’re putting in our mouths; we have our faces buried in our phones or computers, or we just kinda zone out at work until our shift ends. In fact, if you look closely at the video again, you’ll see a third guy playing with his phone a couple rows behind these near-victims. Is this you?

Christians, are you too busy flying through your Facebook feed to notice how much garbage you’re actually consuming? I constantly see nice little Christian-oriented sayings and memes being shared, yet it’s remarkable how many of them are fallacious or completely false. We consume tons of nonsense, and we readily accept half- or un-truths if they come from a remotely “spiritual” source.

We need a standard, a focal point.  Let’s take a look at how we might get better at this.

Pursue love

The reason why we do anything should be to exercise love. Our desire to be right or to get fat in our self-absorbed ways seems to be more important to a lot of Christians, and others certainly notice this.

Not only is obedience an expression of love toward God, but a testimony to others of God’s work within ourselves.

Whatever spiritual act (or not!) you’re performing, make sure it is first founded on the love of God.

Don’t do it for show, yo

Most of us know about the warnings Jesus gives regarding public worship, exposing the Pharisees of yore in their corrupt ways. Jesus follows up on his warning about prayer with “do it in secret”.

By all means, we should encourage one another, but not in a way that might expose our great spiritual maturity and exemplify how awesome we truly are. Who are you trying to glorify here?

In respect to spiritual gifts, Paul remarks that if it’s not designed to be useful to others in a way that might edify the church, it’s basically worthless.  Is what you’re doing helping others out, or is it just a self-serving act? Think about it.

Some spiritual gifts are better than others

Yes, it’s true: the Bible says that some spiritual gifts are superior. It’s time that we acknowledge this.

It’s incredible how many churches and Christians will advocate the significance of speaking in tongues when, right here in 1 Corinthians 15, it says that tongues are inferior to other gifts such as prophecy (which, by the way, doesn’t necessarily mean telling the future). In fact, if you’re speaking in tongues in public without someone to interpret what you’re saying, it’s better left unsaid.

Some gifts are meant to be performed publicly, while others are designed to be kept to yourself (see the Pharisees above). And in this context, the less spectacular and confusing, the better.  If we’re doing things to appear spiritual, we clearly have our focus on the wrong entity.

Intend to edify

The Bible is clear about why we even bother with spiritual gifts: to edify, or strengthen, the church.

This guy does his homework on the existence and purpose of spiritual gifts, if you’re interested in some more in-depth discussion.

Spiritual gifts are not designed to be  put on display and make a scene, to have a huge party and get all raucous in church. Other passages in the Bible discuss how church is meant to be conducted in an orderly fashion — furthermore, is God not the Lord who set all things in order, rather than in chaos?

Consider whether or not what you’re saying or doing is help other people.  If you don’t even know, it’s possible you’re just helping yourself or getting people riled up for no reason.

So, are you paying attention to what you’re doing?

There’s no doubt that you’re going to perform a selfish deed here and there.  Everyone does it.

But when it counts, make sure you’re looking at what’s going on around you, and respond accordingly. Christ died so we might know the Father, that we might see His love and truth in our lives. God has clearly instructed us on how we should respond to this, both in church and public forums.

So let’s focus on what’s important: love, selflessness, order, and edifying others. Otherwise, you might be surprised and buzzed with a foul ball.

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