February 1. Clanging Cymbals

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February 1. Clanging Cymbals

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1)

The years of the smarmy tele-evangelists have pretty much come and gone, but they did a lot to destroy the way people looked at the church.  They were wonderful speakers and could con people out of their money faster than any Nigerian email scam.  How could you not send your money to them when they were offering you a chance to connect to God?

The worst of it is, that when they began preaching or teaching or whatever else it was they were doing, they loved the Lord and loved the people they were preaching to.  After a while, though, their love of self far outweighed anything else.

Before we go too far down the judgmental path, we need to be sure that our words are heard and not shrugged off because we are simply a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

Are they surrounded with action? Are our words supported by our lives?  If we talk about God’s love, do we show it when in the stands at a high school basketball game or wrestling match?

My mother (a minister's wife in a small town) went to a lot of high school football games because she loved watching her youth group kids play on the field, in the band, on the sidelines.  She was there because she loved it.  One Friday night, she and a few friends were watching the game when from behind her the foulest language came out of a woman’s mouth as she screamed at the boys on the field, boys from her own team.  She cursed them until she ran out of breath.  Mom knew that voice.  She heard it every Sunday from a Sunday school room and sang with the woman in the church choir.  It broke her heart.

She did manage to stand up, turn around and greet the woman by name, telling her that she looked forward to singing with her again on Sunday morning.  Then, mom sat down.  The woman couldn’t stand it.  She left the stands; in fact, she left the game that evening and the next Friday evening, made sure she knew where mom was sitting before finding her own seat in the bleachers.

We accept a lot of bad behavior from each other and from ourselves when we are outside the church walls.  We gossip, speak crassly, judge each other out loud, whine about our problems without paying any attention to those around us.  We are self-centered and rude much of the time when we are in public.

Are we a noisy gong or clanging cymbal?  Will people see God’s love in us through the words we speak each day?