Daily Office Readings for Wednesday of Proper 23: Year 1
“Tongues, then, are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is not for unbelievers but for believers.” (1st Corinthians 14:22)
This sounds complicated. Let me see if I can simplify it. Tongues, (or languages), are a sign for unbelievers and prophetic messages are for believers. There, much simpler.
For a classic example of unbelievers learning faith through a foreign tongue made discernible, let us recall Acts 2 where it says; “Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” (Acts 2:5 to 12)
As this Acts account is recorded about Peter, and our 1st Corinthians reading is from Paul, the two, although opposed on some issues, do declare the same thing about how language converts the unbeliever. Paul continues, “If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your mind? But if all prophesy, an unbeliever or outsider who enters is reproved by all and called to account by all.” (1st Corinthians 14: 23 and 24). The prophesying of the faithful will welcome the unbeliever into the hospitality of our love. This is what we, who believe, do. We do not reject those who do not share our faith, but rather, through our faith we show God in our midst.
It is then that the shallowness of the unbeliever’s heart will be revealed. “After the secrets of the unbeliever’s heart are disclosed, that person will bow down before God and worship him, declaring, ‘God is really among you.” (1st Corinthians 14:25).
As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John