Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:1-3 NIV)
When the Corinthians were pagans, they were led by Paul knows not what – as Christians by the Spirit of God. As pagans they worshiped mute idols – as Christians, the Holy Spirit who speaks through them.
This instruction precedes Paul’s teaching about spiritual gifts. Those who say “Jesus is Lord” say so by the influence of the Holy Spirit.
Is Paul speaking to a place where the diversity he is about to describe has led to assumptions about who is spiritual / who is a “real” Christian? In the next section Paul emphasized the “one Spirit.”
My heart aches these days as I look at my denomination – the church tribe where I came to faith, where I was raised, where I am now a pastor. So many of us have tests for whether people (others mostly) are faithful. Whether they are really Christian, whether they are faithful Christians or not.
Paul’s test seems to have been simple – do they confess “Jesus as Lord?” Not Jesus as Lord according to some formula or creed. But is Jesus Lord? If so, then the one Spirit is behind that confession.
I know it’s not that simple. I know it’s not that easy. Or is it????
Lord, your Spirit speaks when we speak of our faith – and we serve and worship not a god who is mute but who speaks! May I listen for that profession in others – to judge not by my rules or standards but by ‘Jesus is Lord!’ Even so, you are Lord! Amen,