Good morning my friends. Here it is my first day of vacation and I am taking it serious. I have closed my Twitter, turned off my email, existed Skype, did away with Groove and will put a message on my phone. Deep breath. I can do this. Let's turn back to 1 Corinthians 12.
Paul stated his purpose for this section of his letter:
Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. v. 1
I wish more leaders had this same attitude. The vast majority of the Church is in the dark when it comes to spiritual gifts. In fact huge sections of the Church completely ignore the Spirit of God and his vital role in our daily life. It is as if they are afraid to be found lacking spiritually because the manifestations of the Spirit are clear. But Paul makes it clear that the Spirit shows we are legitimate. It is also only by the Spirit we can operate in our spiritual gifts:
Therefore I tell you 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. v. 3
It seems that our legitimacy is seen in this way, so we should be able to know the difference between the fake and the authentic. What does it matter? Isn't it better to just avoid the whole affair if there are doubts about the authenticity of people? No, it isn't because this whole affair is vital to the life of the Church:
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. v. 7
In every community people are using abilities they have been trained for. We look at it backwards. We look at it as to how we can earn a living, to make money so that we can live. Where is the joy in that. Instead, when we are young, we should consider what we want to do to strengthen our community and do that thing. Our community needs another bakery so I will become a baker. Our community needs more police officers so I will become a police officer. We do not have enough nurses so I will become a nurse. What a difference in attitude we would have if we looked at it from a point of view of serving the community. Yes, we even need mall workers. Now transfer this idea to the Church.
The Church is our community and we need our "bakers", "police", "nurses" and so much more in order to be healthy. The only difference is that we do not get to choose how we will contribute. The Head gets to decide what the body needs and we should be thankful for that:
But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. v. 18
Imagine if each of us understood that we have been equipped for our responsibility in the Body? There is no school to "train" you. No person can "train" you. The gift is from the Spirit and it is the Spirit working through you for the benefit of the rest of the Body. How selfish some people are, that they are not willing to bless us through their gift. They say they are shy or timid but I say they are selfish. They are not willing to invest themselves in other people even though what they have has been given for "the common good". This is where the five-fold come in to the picture:
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service ... vv. 11-12
They do not train people in their gifts but they train them to serve. That passage goes on to say "so that the body of Christ may be built up". As everyone understands their community and their place in it and serves then we see the community being built up. Look at this:
To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. vv. 8-10
How can portions of the Church ignore this? Paul also speaks of it in his letter to the church at Rome. I do not believe this to be a complete list. To me it is just some examples Paul chose. I do not believe there is a complete list of gifts. I believe the gifts are as various as the needs of the Church and the world. I believe we have become a lover of words failing to understand what Paul explained to another group of word lovers:
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. (1 Corinthians 4:20)
We seem to forget this. In fact we seem to forget the Church is a spiritual matter. We have reduced everything down to the flesh. We think by our flesh, we react in our flesh, we live by our flesh. I was sent a link yesterday that I encourage you to take a moment to consider. I want you to look on the faces of these young adults and realize the impact that "power" has on them:
Healings at Disney World
The Church is not about words, it is about the power of God manifested by the Spirit in us through the powerful gifts he has given to us. No one is left out. Every believer has been called to service and each of us has been equipped to benefit the common good of everyone.
All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. v. 11
If you do not know your gift it means you are not serving and if you are not serving then the Body is poorer because of it; I am poorer because of it. The five-fold needs to rise up and insist that the believers start living as they have been told to do. No one should be permitted to occupy a chair in the Church, claiming to be Christian, if they refuse to accept their place of servant to others. We need to stop trying to serve in the flesh and start operating in the Spirit. Come on five-fold, you have a big responsibility here. I for one want to experience the whole measure of the fullness of Jesus:
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. vv. 11-13