Do not let misinterpretation, tradition, or what “they say” keep you from experiencing the life of God. Although I have always wanted to be a “they”, I have never really understood who “they” are. One thing is for sure “they” really have an opinion about everything. Well, enough of that! Rather than worrying about what “they” say we should all desire more of God’s opinion and what He says!
When it comes to living the life of Christ, we have several contexts to consider. First and foremost is my personal devotion to Him! It has been said that the real me is the one who exists in my personal-private life… the me “on the inside”. At times I have to admit, I’m not too fond of this person. Sin can creep in all too easily since no one but me realizes how much like Christ I’m NOT. In the context of husbands, wives, or best friends; does my part in this relationship look like Jesus? I ask myself, “Am I loving my wife like Christ does the Church?” Then I make the circle bigger to include my family. Do I love and serve my family like Jesus does? What about my neighbors? Do I love them “as myself”? Then I must consider my community and so on. The Lord expressed His desired for all of us to express Him to those around us!
The context I want to focus on here is the “community of faith”. The Holy Spirit has inspired much to be written about how we are to live out our faith in community together! From relationships, to our spiritual gatherings, to how we structure this life of faith; He has shown us much! We often act like the letters written in scripture to the various churches in particular cities were written to mature or even perfect Christians! Oh, how contraire!! The letters were generally written to encourage, instruct, and even correct behavior in those fellowships! They were not perfect in any sense. These letters in scripture explained the new faith called Christianity and revealed a new life of Christ that is now lived from the “inside out”. Consider an overview of I Corinthians and the basic comments as the letter progresses:
So we see that the Holy Spirit has revealed much about the desires of the Lord concerning this new life we live through Christ! Before I make my main point, I would like for us to consider a scripture.
2 Timothy 2:15
15 Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.
The point I want to focus on here is “correctly explaining the word of truth”. There are various scriptures through which I believe we have “incorrectly explained the word of truth”! God never contradicts Himself and is understood only in the context of the statement. With that said, lets look at a scripture that is quoted often to defend a person’s “order of worship” or a certain “style of worship”.
1 Corinthians 14:40 (NLT)
40 Let all things be done decently and in order.
To many the interpretation, or misinterpretation, of this scripture is that it defines how worship is experienced and how a church service is designed! The humorous thing is that by this standard, “decency” and “order” is defined by the individual. Since we are all different and prefer certain things we are “all over the map” in defining what is proper worship and what is “out of order”. This is even true culturally and is generationally sensitive. As we realize this, we should extend grace to others about how they express their faith! Since this interpretation is vague, it should be obvious that we have not fully understood the truth of this scripture. When we “correctly explain the word of truth” this scripture becomes richer and more awesome than we realize! The Greek word for “decently” is the word that means “decorum: what is suitable, proper and in good taste.” It can also be translated “honorable and noble”. It is used in a couple of places in scripture that helps define the use of the word.
13 Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy.
1 Thessalonians 4:12
12 Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.
This word seems to suggest a life that is lived with the standards of the Lord defining my behavior and not simply an “order of worship” or certain “style”. The other word mentioned is “in order”. The word for “order” is “arrangement and dignity”. Here is another example of the use of the word translated “order”.
5 For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong.
Without getting bogged down into the details, Paul seems to be saying that this new life of Christ encompasses traditions, cultures and generations and is practiced in preference and respect to those around you and with character and integrity!! When you leave the “decently and in order” statement in the context of the letter to the Corinthian Church this is where you naturally land. After realizing we are part of the “greater Body of Christ,” we seek His wisdom to walk out this new found faith: we are in relationship with each other: I must deny myself to serve others and God gives gifts at times to accomplish this: God has certain accepted behaviors that guide our love for one another. Let’s express worship together as a family that is honorable and in good taste for all present!
What we finally realize is “decently and in order” has less to do with God’s theological dictates and more to do with loving and respecting others of the family of faith as we live a worshipful life together!