The Greatest Force on Earth

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1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels…

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains…

And though I bestow my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned…

But without love; I’m as useless as sounding brass and tinkling cymbals, I’m nothing…

We live in a culture that thrives on action. This fast paced, get it while you can, fast food mentality has developed the kind of culture that depends on what it gets to survive. Relationships, friendships, families and even careers and hobbies are all measured by the same question… “What’s in it for me?”

Recently I have examined my life, my interests, my purpose; a soul search, so to speak, triggered by a question I heard in a group setting. What is you’re vision? What is your mission? Those questions lingered in my heart as the words echoed over and over in my mind. What is my vision? Until recently I thought I had that all figured out. I preached it, I taught it and even believed it! But now in the depths of my soul questions are surfacing that I thought I had already settled. You see as a Christian in general, I have fallen prey to the mentality of our culture. You know, the one where we come to church only interested in what we get. Yeah I know, no one else has ever experienced that, but I have…

As a minister I spend much of my time preaching and teaching the value of Biblical principles. As an apostolic minister I have a tenacious drive to keep things apostolic! I don’t just preach it, I don’t just live it, I absolutely love it! I feel like the Apostle Paul when he proudly told Timothy, “I know in whom I have believed and I am persuaded…” (2 Timothy 1:12) I don’t believe in playing church! I take every service serious, and every message I preach I preach with the mindset that this may be my last sermon they ever hear!

I read 1 Corinthians recently, and this book is intriguing from many angles. Paul is laying down the law, for lack of a better phrase, to a church who has fallen into a trap of religious traditionalism. As I read this book, I realized the danger of relying on my apostolic pedigree for results! Chapter 13 opened my eyes, chapter 14? Yeah, that one opened my heart. There is a theme in which Paul is focusing on, and apostolic identity isn’t it. Don’t get me wrong, Paul gave us the “apostolic identity”. But here Paul is writing to a church already in apostolic fellowship! And when I read of the mentality that had gripped their minds, I became increasingly aware of the dangerous place many of our churches are dwelling. It’s easy for us to write them off as a mythical example of poor leadership. But in reality the spirit of that church and the spirit of the American apostolic church are strikingly similar!

When we look at what the Apostle Paul addresses in chapters 13 and 14, we can see the parallel. Paul isn’t addressing sin as we label it, but it is sin nonetheless! Paul is addressing a selfish, self driven, self consumed church, whose only vested interest was what they could get out of it! The tongue issue of chapter 14 isn’t about tongues at all really. It’s about the mindset of these carnal people, who were more concerned with edifying themselves than they were about edifying the entire church. Paul never admonished them to stop being apostolic, he simply attempted to shift their focus from me to us!

The beauty of 1 Corinthians 13 is found in the first verse of chapter 14, “Follow after love…”. With it nothing else matters. Without it nothing else matters. The very essence of love is so anti-American. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. Love does not dishonor others, it is not self seeking, it is not easily offended, it is not easily angered and love keeps no record of wrongs. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres! Simply, love never fails! Our culture has manipulated the church to think and live only for ourselves, it has taught us that we can pentecostalize our way through life and be successful. Scripture on the other hand disagrees. Tongue talking is not the solution to the mess of our world. Prophesy, understanding and knowledge will not slow down the radical advancement of satanic agendas. Faith to see incredible miracles won’t convince them of truth. Giving of money and goods to needy people hasn’t put me in the driver’s seat of evangelism, it profiteth me nothing!  Truth is, of all the major forces of our world; faith, hope, and love… the greatest of these is love.

Without love, our earth is a tomb.

-Robert Browning

Without love being the center of our drive, our churches and the world surrounding them will become mausoleums; a museum of death. The scriptures teach that those who receive not the LOVE of the truth are in danger of finding their minds gripped with strong delusions (2 Thessalonians 2:10). This verse reveals to us the basis of salvation. Salvation can not be obtained by works of human design, it has to be discovered through your love of the truth. This is where God took me the moments following that heart wrenching, soul searching quest for purpose…

Ephesians chapter 4 reveals to us the role and purpose of ministry. After the Apostle Paul addresses the role of ministry, he addresses its purpose. Then in verse 15 gives us the foundational piece to it all. “But speaking the truth in love…” I’m cautious of throwing around the apostolic cliche’ “God spoke to me”, but something almost exploded in my mind as suddenly I realized…

Could it be they never received the love of the truth, because they’ve never heard the truth preached in love?

Without warning I had stumbled upon the destiny of my mission! Apostolic routine can never replicate the influence of love! Apostolic Pentecostalism can never replace the necessity of love! I do not believe we need to change our message, our standards or our convictions. But maybe we could examine our methods and implement the principle of love into our churches! I pray our pulpits would be full of men, preaching the truth in love. That our saints would fill the pew, speaking the truth in love! That apostolics would walk our streets, fill our schools and inhabit the workplace with the love of God flowing from our spirits.

Jesus gave us the blueprint to authenticity when he said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Let us not make the mistake of Samson, and assume our “hair” (Pentecostalism) is enough. If we want to impact our world with this Gospel message, and if we want our churches to experience revival, we must become a church and a people of love!

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