Saturday, July 18, 2009

Devotional - Understanding Our Place

Good morning. I hope you are waking up to a beautiful day in your part of the world. If not, know that the Lord can transform it into a beautiful day for you. We are turning to 1 Corinthians 12.

I would like to take my time with this chapter as there is so much to be gleaned from it to help us in our understanding of the Body of Christ. I want to start with these verses:

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. vv.4-6

The first thing to understand and accept is that the Body was never designed to accommodate couch potatoes. Everyone has a part to play in the well functioning Body. We are all gifted by our Lord through the Spirit but there is a difference in what those gifts do. I do not know if you have given much thought to the verses above but it may help in your understanding if you consider them for a moment.

We know that we have all been called to be ministers but we are not all called to minister in the same fashion. There are the common gifts and then there are the gifts for those who have been set aside by the Spirit:

Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? vv. 29-30

There is a difference in the common ministry that we all take part in and those ministries that result in the "setting apart". Earlier Paul listed what he saw as the order of some of these gifts:

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. vv. 27-28

The reason there is an order is because the five-fold has the distinct place of training members of the Body. It is by this training that the members are better able to understand their place and purpose. The five-fold is not about control but about training. Look at Ephesians:

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 ... (4:11-12)

I am being specific here in the quote to make my point that the five-fold have the distinct purpose of training the rest of the body, specifically in the area of service; how to use their gifts. This can lead to a sense of privilege or even lordship over people but this entire chapter works against that premise:

But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. (1 Corinthians 12:24-25

Remember that anyone who is called into the five-fold are not deserving of it. They have not earned it. They are no better and no worse than anyone else. It was not their choosing:

But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. v. 18

I guess this is one of the hardest things for us, to allow the Lord to arrange it as he wants it. There is just something in us that wants to control everything. There is also a lot of envy and jealousy and judgment. This alone should tell us our level of maturity or lack of maturity.

I wanted to make a distinction here because there are a lot of people who believe they are not ministers because they are not preachers or pastors or evangelists or prophets. That is far from the truth. We have all received gifts of the Lord's choosing and we have all been called to service. No one has the excuse of not taking their place in the Body of Christ.

On Monday we will consider the rest of the Body and hopefully come to understand the importance in this sentence:

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. v. 7

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