Sunday, August 15, 2021

A Uniquely Unified Body of Spiritual Gifts

Have you ever met a Christian who you met at just the right time when you were feeling discouraged and upset, and they made you feel better? Have you ever talked with a Christian who seemed to have a wisdom about decisions and life that was beyond what you expected? Have you ever met a Christian who could teach the word in a way that made you understand it in a new way?

Have you ever met a Christian who spoke a word from the Lord over your life, something they couldn’t have possibly known?

How about a Christian who is always there to serve? Someone who always volunteers to help? Or maybe you’ve met a Christian who has a unique discernment about the world? They’re able to see down to the truth of culture, television, government and so on.

Still other Christians place their hands on you and you are healed. Others have knowledge beyond their years.

All of these gifts are what we call spiritual gifts. They are gifts distributed by Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit, to us who serve as his body on the Earth. And as the body of Christ, we are his arms, his legs, his eyes, his voice, his ears, and his hands to a suffering world lost in sin. Each of these gifts are very different. But they all fit together to form us into a complete body of Christ, serving together, to win the world for Christ.

First thing to understand about spiritual gifts is the word spiritual. These are not gifts that exist in the natural world. They are spiritual. The second word is gift. They are not of ourselves. We didn’t create them by our own genius. They are gifts. Just like we receive a gift on Christmas morning or on our birthday, spiritual gifts are gifts given by God for us to use to His glory. Always remember that, don’t ever think it’s coming from you. Give glory to God, put the credit where it belongs, if we’re the body of Christ, being Jesus through our spiritual gifts the proper understanding when we’ve just used a spiritual gift to help someone is: Jesus did this. Jesus did this. Jesus did this.

No one on planet Earth, not a single human being, can properly say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. That’s what it says in 1st Corinthians 12:3. You can turn in your Bibles there and follow along.

Paul writes to the church in Corinth, long long ago, yet speaks to us today saying, “4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”

This is all God at work. Different kinds of gifts, one God, one Spirit, one Christ.

I’d like to skip forward a bit to verses 12 through 14: “12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.”

Together we as the body of Christ make up a unique fighting force. Right now your area of combat is this sector, this neighborhood, this region of Flint. My battleground is Owosso, Shiawassee county. Yours is genessee county. Your job is to do acts of mercy in accordance with your spiritual gifts to bring the light of God’s love into a dark world.

That means disrupting the broken world around us. Disrupting the stale, barren lives of those who haven’t seen loving kindness is years, or longer. There’s a thousand ways in a day to show mercy, and use your spiritual gift. But I think we sometimes get into a pattern of selfishness and laziness where we aren’t using those gifts. We just let them sit. And that is just not acceptable. God insists that we use those gifts. Remember the parable of the talents? God rewarded those workers who put their talents to use for his kingdom, but the one who hid his talent was cast into outer darkness. Use your gifts.

God will provide opportunities. As you pray about it, and watch for holy moments, God will open doors and point you to people in need around you. God will lead you to people and people will come to you for help. And as you do it, you’ll get more and more used to it, until it’s your normal. That’s how a habit is formed, through repetition.

You are the body of Christ. Get to work! And I’m sure many of you already are. For you I say, well done, keep it up, for those of you not putting your talents to use, I say, get to work! There are people out there who desperately need you to be share your gift with them.

Alright let’s jump back to verse 7 and take a look at the gifts Paul lists here: 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b] 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”

Which is your gift? Take a look at the list in your Bible. Take time to pray through the list and circle the gifts God has given you. Then ask yourself, how can I use them? And how can I develop them? One gift God had me develop when I was at training was leading worship. That is not something I wanted to do. But God kept giving me chances to practice my singing and learn how to effectively lead songs. Now I do it every Sunday in Owosso. And I’m getting better and better at it. Those gifts God gives you can be developed.

Alright, skip forward to verse 15, and I’m just going to read 15 through 26. It says, “15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”

Every part of our body is actually super important. We might not think about it, but remove basically anything from our bodies and it’s not gonna be good. Is one really better than the other? Can I really compare my sense of hearing to my ability to see? Would it matter if I removed one arm, or one leg? Even a single toe, or a single finger on the hand removed can make a huge impact on the entire body.

In the same way, the body of Christ functions because we all have different gifts and use them in unique ways to serve a dying world. I can think of various Christian leaders who have inspired me over the years.

Someone like Billy Graham had such an amazing gift for evangelism, to share the gospel. People like William Lane Craig or Frank Turkey, have a gift for Christian apologetics, to give reasonable evidence for God’s existence. I think of people like AW Tozer or Charles Spurgeon who were such great preachers. I think of some of the teachers I had at training college, who really had a gift for teaching. It’s really beautiful, how the body of Christ, even at one church, is so diverse, some are servants, some cook, some clean, some teach, some preach, some evangelize, some are prayer warriors, you all have your place. And it’s beautiful. Be united, yet serving in different ways. Understand it’s all of great value. None are more important than the others.

Paul concludes the chapter by indicating leadership roles, “27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.”

So now Paul is telling us all these roles are very important, but some are of greater value than others, so do desire the greater gifts.

So in conclusion today, reflect on your spiritual gifts. Understand they are gifts from God. Give God the glory as you use them. Never take the credit. Do use them. And develop them. Be united with others who have different giftings. And then finally we see Paul says, “And yet I will show you the most excellent way.”

So after listing all of this important information about gifts, Paul indicates the lifestyle which is most important. And if you flip the page in your Bible and go to 1 Corinthians 13 we all know that this is the love chapter. Often repeated at weddings, right?

But understand that love is the lifestyle we should be cultivating. Love is an action, it’s a choice, to love people and show them mercy. Often times it’s very hard. We want to judge, condemn, we want to look down on people. We’ve been hurt, we’ve been rolled over by life. And so our natural reaction is to hate, to judge, to condemn, to think evil thoughts about someone. I struggle with it sometimes. But love is the real lifestyle of a Christian. It’s what it’s all about. So yes, do use your spiritual gifts, every day, but make sure every interaction has a generous helping of love poured into it.