“Wrestling With Romans”
Spiritual Worship (Chapter 12 Verses 1-8)
The spiritual worship that is urged upon us (v1), is to be lived out not only in the world, but in the context of the community into which we are saved, the Church (vv3-8). Each one of us with our obligations to each other, and our particular God-given gifts making up one harmonious entity. One of the great dangers of the renewed mind (v2), is for it to become puffed up (1Corinthians 8.1-3). Pride is a terrible sin that can only be avoided by the sober judgment of ourselves (v3). If we don’t do it ourselves, it will reek havoc in the Church, and God himself will end up doing it for us (1Corinthians 11.28-31). To appreciate the gifts God has given to each of his children in his sovereign wisdom and love (1Corinthians 12.7-11), to be content with what he has endowed us with, is both to honour God and avoid imbalance and insobriety. In satisfaction with what we have been given, we use them to the praise and glory of God. Paul, as with the whole of the New Testament Scriptures reveals a Church which has been baptised in the Holy Spirit, a baptism emerging from the death and resurrection of Jesus, full of faith, overflowing with love, developing in holiness, lavished with spiritual gifts, working in harmony, in the power of the Spirit, and totally complete in Jesus Christ.
The spontaneous nature of the worship that Paul describes here stands out clearly (vv3-8). Worship is expressed in a variety of ways, but with the potential for participation by all (1Corinthians 14.26). That of course doesn’t mean chaos, but neither does it mean passivity, a spectator attitude. Therefore restrictions are placed upon speakers (1Corinthians 14.23-32), order is a must. God continues to gift his Church throughout the age of the Spirit i.e., from Pentecost to the end of the age, for the empowering and development of his Church, and the added usefulness of her ministry. Those gifts are not simply restricted to preaching and teaching (vv6-8), and neither do they make people spiritual. Those gifts can be used carnally. What matters most is the life in and of the person or people using them. The power and effectiveness of any gift depends upon the quality of the person or persons, and the degree to which they themselves are dependent upon the Giver (Galatians 5.22-23).
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)