Waiting for a connecting flight in Dallas, I met an old friend headed to the opposite coast. As we sat and visited he showed me a popular book he was reading about the second coming of Christ. Obviously fascinated by the book, he asked me what I was reading about the rapture and had I preached on that subject lately.
Over the years, whether I was doing research for a sermon, preparing to teach a class or trying to understand a person's expectations for our church, various ideas about the purpose or reasons for involvement in church surfaced. People voiced a need to be wanted, a church that provided sound doctrine in its teaching and preaching, a place to escape the noise and pressures of the world, a safe place for children, excitement in the music and sermons and a place where we will be with people like us. The list is longer, but you get the idea.
Suffering and submission are not popular ideas. Control, winning, success, power: these are the ideas driving our culture. Unlike the Roman Empire in Peter's day, we have the privilege of expressing ourselves through voting and freedom of speech. Even so, our challenge is to face rhetoric that contradicts the word of God, coming from people who claim to believe in God!
A common dictionary description of “power” is the capacity to act or ability to accomplish a purpose. This morning I listened to news commentators discussing political power in Washington D.C. and the various elected officials trying to control a national agenda without success. You might say it was a tale of power without accomplishment.
In the closing verse of last Sunday’s lesson, Paul affirmed that all of the gifts described in 1 Corinthians 12:4-10 are “the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each man just as he determines.”