By Larry Short
By Larry ShortI am preparing to facilitate a series on spiritual gifts in our young adults weekly meeting time, which we call "Pulse." That really is an accurate name for what we are doing, as I am realizing that the focus of this series will in reality be the health of the whole Body of Christ (of which each one of us as individuals are an important part), and the life that flows through it. Our individual rhythms must bow to that supremely important, single Pulse.
But as I am studying portions of Scripture relating to gifts, I am realizing how deeply the whole message of Scripture is reflected in these teachings. That is, it isn't about ME ... my wants, my needs ... it's about the Big Picture. The Body of Christ. The Church. The Kingdom of God.
How do spiritual gifts fit in? The teaching is very clear. Here are some important portions from Romans 12 (all passages quoted from The Message paraphrase):
So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him .... Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him .... In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body.Paul goes on to liken our role in the Body in terms of function (as related to giftedness) as the various body parts, working together. There are different parts; some are glamorous, some unmentionable. Working together, the Body is beautiful. But if it becomes all about the part, functioning on its own, apart from the Body, it's grotesque. 1 Corinthians 12 puts this very graphically:
A body isn't just a single part blown up into something huge. It's all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together .... For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn't be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own.Paul concludes:
By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which He has the final say in everything.There is absolutely no way to take this scriptural teaching on spiritual gifts and make it all about me! It's about the health of the Body of Christ, the Kingdom of God.
The big challenge and tension in my life is to remember this, to believe it, and to practice it. I realize that in everything I do (yes, even in this blog!), I am drawn or tempted to try and make it about ME -- my wants, my needs, my happiness, my wealth, my popularity. In reality, God calls me to be others-focused, to be Body-focused, Kingdom-focused ... God-focused. Die to self. Say no to Larry, yes to the Cross! God, help me, in my weakness, to do this!