Summary: When the Holy Spirit is present the believers act with decency and order in the church, always preferring one another in love.
Holy Spirit Series 2000
How to Act in Church
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
Today we are continuing our multi-part study of 1 Corinthians. My goal is that we connect with the Word of God written, find out to the best of our ability what it teaches, and then ask the Spirit of Truth to help us understand how to apply that to our lives. I hope this is your desire.
Too often, we modern Christians are so totally preoccupied with our wishes, our wants, and our desires that we have little time left to seek what God desires. And what is worse, we tend to think that this is the way it is suppose to be.
When we go to the Word of God, if we go to the Word of God, it is to discover some word of comfort for ourselves, some solution to our personal issues. That would be all right if first our souls had been tuned to want the things God wants. The way it is we often end up ignoring whole ranges of the Word of God because we are not interested. That’s not good.
We ought to be so consumed with a holy hunger for God that we are curious about anything the Word of God says because if it interests God, it interests us.
Every time we open the Bible, we should pray: Lord, what do you want me to learn from this? What is in this passage that you think is important to me? Show me? Guide me? Teach me?
I want to explore 1 Corinthians 14 under the theme of: How To Act in Church. Think about that for a minute. Is there a right way and wrong way to act in church? Is there a way to behave that is OK somewhere else but not in church?
When I ponder that question, at first blush I tend to want to insist that we ought to behave the same way every place. Indeed, where a person is ought to have no reflection on whether they act like a Christian or not.
Consider the way we talk or what we talk about. There is not one set of vocabulary that is wrong in the church building, but OK in the parking lot, the locker room, or the backyard. It is impossible to divide our soul like that.
The same is true of the way we treat people. In no way should a follower of Jesus encourage a double standard. The Golden Rule applies everywhere to all people. I am all in favor of teaching our children special respect for the place of worship. It is right and proper to expect our young to not run and roughhouse in church, unless it is in a room or activity designed for that. I certainly taught my children, and teach my grandchildren that principle.
But not because there are two standards of conduct. I teach them the same thing about the library, the school halls, the grocery store, and Wal-Mart. It is a matter of courtesy to other people, not the sacredness of a religious space.
Having said that, I would still insist that for adults especially how one behaves in church is particularly telling. I can understand, though I wouldn’t excuse it, how a person might loose their temper and rattle off a profanity or talk mean to another person at work or on the golf course. I can understand that! It is still not good, but I can understand it.
But there is something particularly callused about that happening in church or among people gather in Jesus name for spiritual purposes. Surely the setting and the mindset of those present ought to have controlling effect on one’s behavior.
We ought to be on our best behavior at church. I suspect most of us probably are. Which means if our behavior is bad there, Katie bar the door, imagine how bad it probably is elsewhere.
I operate under the truth that if a person can be mean in church, he is probably really mean at home. If she can curse or talk profanely at church, she probably really has a potty mouth at work. If he can gossip and lie at church among people gathered to encourage one another to a closer walk with God, imagine what he says about church friends at home or work.
While there ought to be no double standard among followers of Jesus, how we behave in church does matter. First because it says volumes about our spiritual and moral standards; and secondly, because at church, when gathered in the name of Jesus, bad behavior has such a profound impact on the witness of the Gospel and the reputation of Christ.