Resounding Gongs and Clanging Cymbals

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This morning, I woke up feeling burdened by everything going on around me. There’s lots of injustice in the world and many people rushing into action. People are angry and fearful and decisions are being made out of that space. Hurt is palpable in our society today and I’m struggling to process through all of that.

I am overwhelmed by the brokenness I see in the United States. I agree with the plight of many protesters who want to end police brutality and the systemic racism in our society today. I want to champion this message but it’s getting harder and harder to do so as people are retreating to their political and ideological camps with little space in between for grace, mercy, or dialogue.

As I was praying about the protests and the church, I remembered that verse in 1 Corinthians that talks about resounding gongs and clanging cymbals. I realized that’s exactly what we’re witnessing today in our culture.

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1 (NIV)

I have always seen this metaphor as bad. You don’t want to listen to a gong or cymbal constantly; it would be awful of these were the only two instruments in an orchestra. If all you hear is constant banging, you can’t appreciate the beauty of each of these instruments. But what if the clanging cymbals are making noise for a purpose? What if the resounding gong has woken some people up?

I believe that the protests are a clanging cymbal that has awakened many people in this country and around the world. This subject has consumed our news and social media feeds for months, something that many of us, sadly, wouldn’t have reacted to otherwise. I know this resounding gong has brought me out of my stupor and now I am forced to choose how I respond. How about you?

No matter our skin color or political affiliation, I believe we can all learn a lot from 1 Corinthians 13.

What if we as the church responded with patience and kindness? What if we honored those around us in little and big ways instead of seeking to promote ourselves? What if we didn’t boast about all that we’re doing but humbly listened instead? What if we chose to stand on truth, even when it’s not convenient or easy? What if we chose to love God and love others, even those who we disagree with or don’t understand?

This is not easy or fun. I would much rather retreat into my own little bubble with people who think like me. It’s so much easier to go back to our separate camps and rail internally about the “other side”. But that’s not who we are called to be as followers of Jesus. He breaks down the walls that we put up and as the church, I believe we are called to do the same.

Right now, the church has an incredible opportunity to lead. I believe that we were made for such a time as this, even though change feels impossible and even hopeless. Because we are God’s children, he has called us to glorify him by serving others. We can choose to live a sacrificial life and put into practice praying without ceasing. Repentance, grace, and forgiveness can become a way of life instead of our last resort. We can look different in how we live and love.

I pray that we’re able to live out 1 Corinthians 13 in little and big ways as we go about our days.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)

What has God been speaking to you in this season?

What’s one small way you can live out 1 Corinthians 13 today?

To go Deeper: Read Being the Church, Having the Courage to Take a Single Step

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