“Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.” (1 Corinthians 14:20)
Why do you come to church?
That might seem like an odd question—one with many possible answers, most of which are probably godly. For instance, we may come to church to be exposed to the wisdom of Scripture, or to encounter God in a setting with fewer distractions, or to receive encouragement from others during a difficult season of our lives. These are all fantastic reasons to come to church. Let’s keep pursuing them. But let’s also keep something else in mind.
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, he spills a significant amount of ink concerning the nature of the local church’s gathering—more than anywhere else in the New Testament letters. Strangely, he doesn’t really emphasize the preaching or the music—at least not directly. Rather, Paul’s focus is on their maturity. And the barometer he uses to measure their maturity is how eager they are to edify one another when they gather to worship.
Embracing the Right Perspective
The Bible often prompts us to think in black-and-white terms; hence the two, clear-cut perspectives Paul gives in First Corinthians 14:20. Right in the thick of his discourse on the nature of the local church’s gathering, he holds out two options before us. We can either be childish or mature.
Like anything else in the Christian life, it’s all or nothing. We don’t get to hang out in the mushy middle of these two perspectives, putting on an outward facade of maturity while standing ankle-deep in the kiddy pool. Therefore, we must make a conscious decision to put away the first perspective, never letting our proneness toward immaturity have the final say. But how exactly can we do that?
Christ And Him Crucified
For starters, we must embrace the right perspective in our thinking. Maturity is a choice—one that is made in the battlefield of our minds. And, according to Paul, edification is the fruit of that choice.
Earlier in this letter, Paul provides us with some insight into how the Gospel shaped his decision to embrace the right perspective. In 2:2, he says, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” That’s the mindset of someone who expends himself to edify others. It is one of full-scale Gospel formation, being dead-set on the God-Man who loved us enough to sacrifice His own life upon a blood-soaked cross in order that we might be heirs of eternal life. We have received the joy of knowing God the Father because His Son paid the highest price.
Only that kind of knowledge can motivate a culture of edification in which Christ-followers give of themselves in order that others might receive joy and encouragement through the Gospel. People who treasure Christ highly in worship are formed to love as they have been loved, beginning with their brothers and sisters whom Jesus died to redeem. Therefore, at some point, every true believer has to grow up and realize that it’s not enough to come and consume the religious goods and services provided by a handful of skilled preachers and musicians. We must come to church for something much more than that—to magnify the love of God in Christ so that our entire congregation can be built up in faith, hope, and love.
So this Sunday, let’s be sure to come to church for the right reasons—yes, to hear the Word and to worship God, but also to grow in our eagerness to edify the church that Jesus died to build. As those who have the mind of Christ (1 Co. 2:16), we must make a conscious effort to encourage and strengthen one another by banking our lives on the Good News of Christ crucified. For therein lies our path to the kind of maturity that honors God. So let’s embrace the right perspective. Our worship depends on it.
Liturgy for Sunday, July 12, 2015:
Call to Worship:
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:22-24)
Reading for Pastoral Prayer:
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:13-18)
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
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