We have discussed what can happen in real life when people discuss the mission of their local church. The church should be a body of believers who all follow the some Lord Jesus and want to please Him so far as they possibly can. So it makes sense to look to Scripture to see what the word of God says about our meeting together. Verses 26 to 40 of 1 Corinthians 14 tell us
26 What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two–or at the most three–should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God. 29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints, 34 women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. 36 Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37 If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38 If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored. 39 Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
Let us pick out a few phrases from this piece of Scripture and develop them a little.
“All of these [a hymn a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation] must be done for the strengthening of the church. The strengthening of the church is the reason. Building up our corporate identity so that we feel at one with our fellow Christians. Exactly the same reason why, when we are not at peace with our brother we should leave our offering at the door and go make peace with our brother, that is truly be reconciled to our brother before we present our offering. I have to confess that I have not always done this. We need to keep short accounts with both God and our fellow men.
“Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.” This means that we should not automatically accept what is said as God’s Word interpreted for today in our situation, but we need to exercise discrimination and judgement about what is said. Don’t just take it as read that because the person at the front has been accredited by the denomination or the church leadership team that they will always tell you what God wants you to hear. All of mankind is imperfect. We all get it wrong. But if no-one is prepared to start questioning things, then no-one will learn, neither preacher who is getting it wrong nor congregation who absorb what is said like a sponge, because when squeezed, a sponge simply lets go off all that it had absorbed.
“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” reminds us that there should not be dissent breaking out in a church when the Word of God is preached, nor between the believers. We must actively work for peace between ourselves and the other members of our church family. If we did not have God as our Father, most churches would disintegrate because of the differences between the individual members. Let’s face it, in our natural families we all have some distant or not so distant relative whose absence at family events is a relief for everyone else, but church should not be like that. We need to think about the way the believers in Acts 4 were described, as being “One in heart and mind” and aspire to this for our local church.