Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. (NLT)
We might all agree that the church needs to be functioning in a business-like way. No excuse for shoddy organisation or poor communication. These have serious pastoral implications. Staff need to be properly employed; buildings need to be adequately maintained; accounts need to be kept in order.
And yet, there can be a tendency to see the church as a business. The church can sometimes adopt business-type practices that may not easily fit into the sorts of things churches are primarily to do. Sadly, it can be true that churches occasionally take on board things that the wider business community have since discarded. We can be a bit behind the times!
It is not essentially wrong to set targets and goals and devise strategies to achieve our aims. But we dare not push this too far as if we can dictate God’s agenda, as if we can get the Spirit of God to jump to our every command. It is rather too easy for church leaders to begin loving the mission, the strategy, the programmes and neglecting to show the same sort of love to the people. The people become the means to another end.
Our text reminds us that if we lack true love for others then all else we do is compromised. Our aim is to honour God and serve his people and through them the wider world. The motive power for this is love not technique.
We are in the people business. People can be messy and so church sometimes falls short of smooth efficiency. So be it.