Read 1 Corinthians 14
Focus on verse 33
A courtroom is one place were order is usually strictly enforced. All it takes is for a person or group of people to begin to become even a little unruly for the judge to demand that there be order in the court. If this demand is not heeded – the unruly ones soon find themselves ejected from the courtroom if they are lucky, and in handcuffs if they are not.
I today’s reading Paul addresses unruliness in the Corinthian church services. Apparently the Corinthian believers were a bit of a rowdy bunch. There were things going on both within the actual gatherings of the believers, as well as in the personal lives of some of them that were unbecoming of people who claimed to follow Jesus.
After listing some of these things individually, Paul summarizes his exhortation with the words:
For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. (v 33)
Some of the things that were happening in the Corinthian worship services were that people would speak out of turn and generally behave somewhat rudely. As a result those who actually had something to share for the edification of the church were not being heard, so Paul gives some specific instruction regarding how an orderly worship service ought to run. Speak in turn, if someone else has something to say the first speaker should defer to the next, and if someone speaks in an unknown tongue there should be an interpretation, is there is no one to interpret then the speaker should refrain from speaking. The rationale being that “God is not a God of confusion but of peace.”
This is not to suggest that worship services should not be exuberant or exciting. The unfortunate result of taking the admonition of order to far is that we swing the pendulum back in the other direction and remove any sense of joy and celebration from our worship. Paul’s instruction is simply that public services of worship be “orderly”. It is entirely possible to have orderly meetings while still maintaining a sense of spontaneity and freedom, it does, however, take some planning and a sensitivity to divine direction on the part of those leading the meeting.
This also leaves room for variety in worship. The worship of God may involve any number of emotional responses from somber to celebratory. There are times when worship can evoke an intense emotional response, while at other times it simply demands a response of the will, a simple choice of saying “yes” to God. Where we come off the rails most often is when we elevate one form of response over the other as a more legitimate response. So let there be order, but let’s not be stuffy about it!