"For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power." 1 Corinthians 4:20
We're all familiar with the phrase "Don't talk the talk if you can't walk the walk." It's one of those annoying little sayings that have been overused and commercialized. I must admit, I think it is condescending, hypocritical and rude. But as much as I hate to admit it, there is some truth in this "t-shirt" phrase.
In this passage of 1 Cornithians, Paul is addressing a church that he describes as "divided, quarrelsome, jealous and arrogant." Ouch. Too many opinions. Too much pride. Sound familiar? I suppose the problems of the church today have always existed. You'd think we'd have worked out the kinks by now. But we are human, and doomed to repeat history. How many times have you experienced a divided church because there were too many different opinions and too much pride to lay those opinions aside? Paul's admonition to "agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought" seems like an unrealistic expectation. I can just imagine as the letter was being read to the church in Corinth there were people thinking, "That sounds like a good idea. If everyone would agree with me there wouldn't be a problem." Ha.
So how do we get past the opinions, personal agendas and pride in the body of Christ? How can we get to the point where we are truly united in our mind and thought? Is that even possible?
Let's go back to 1 Corinthians 4:20. Paul says that the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk. It's not about who's right and who's wrong. It's not about who has the best idea. It's not about the fancy words or eloquent prayers. We can have the best ideas, the most influential speakers, the most educated teachers. But if we don't have the power of Christ working in and through us, we are simply arrogant and useless. And that is when we find ourselves divided.
Paul says earlier in 1 Corinthians 2:2 "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." He goes on to share that his methods of spreading the gospel were not empowered by pride, preparation or perfect preaching. His effectiveness came from "a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power." That's what it is all about. This body that we call the church- our job is not to "wow" the world with the most advanced methods and fancy techniques, but to place all attention on the power of God working through us.
We won't always agree on method. Besides, the method that is popular today will probably be out of style tomorrow. That is why we can't get caught up in the meaningless details. The silly things people choose to argue about like the style of music, color of carpet or temperature of the room. When we choose to allow ourselves to be divided by such unimportant things that have absolutely nothing to do with God's Kingdom, we sacrifice the power we can have through unity in the body. We surrender our greatest weapon and allow the enemy to come in and create chaos. We have to get our focus back on what matters- the POWER.
So, how much power do you have? Or are you all talk? Can people see the evidence of the Holy Spirit's power working through your life, or do they simply "get an earful"? There's nothing wrong with verbally spreading the message of Christ. It is our job. But when our words become more important than the power to actually live out what we believe, we have strayed from the truth of what the Kingdom of God is truly about. Power. Power to change. Power to save. Power to transform. And God doesn't need your big ideas or fancy words to do that. So let's get out of the way and let God's power truly work through our lives. I believe that it's then we will begin to see the harvest come in, drawn in by the awesome power of God.