Friday, June 27, 2014

Called Out...with Purpose (2 of 2)

Part 1 this week took a brief look at the need for a church member to use the gift(s) that God has given them to serve the church and His Kingdom. In this entry, we will see that service alone is not enough - how we serve matters as well. Paul says that we are to serve in love.

One of the worst chapter breaks in the Bible occurs at 1 Corinthians 13. It is the love chapter. And it is a great chapter. But it ties back to Chapter 12. Paul systematically describes the use of many gifts - tongues, prophecy, knowledge, and faith  without love as essentially worthless. He is not suggesting the gifts are worthless - they are from God - but our use of them is practically worthless if we don't also practice the gift of love we have also received from God.

Paul then launches into a further discussion on speaking in tongues* by comparing it to prophecy. Paul does not denounce speaking in tongues – saying he himself does it – but that speaking in tongues, if not done properly, creates confusion, rather than edifying those who hear. The whole point of this passage is that worship should be orderly. It does not say it has to follow a certain order, but that the chaos is not accepted.

*Many debate whether certain gifts are still present in today's world. The point of this post is not to engage in that debate. However, it should be noted that whether the gifts are common or not today, if God wants someone to speak in tongues (or have any other gift), they will be able to do so (consider Balaam's donkey).

Regardless, any gift is not given for the purpose of any one individual. Rather the Spirit gives gifts for the building of the church (1 Corinthians 14.12).

As a church member, we have been a spiritual gift by God in order to serve His church better. A person who does not know their gift should seek counsel, including praying to God to try to determine their gift (Many spiritual gift inventories are available and can be quite helpful, but all do have assumptions which can lead to potential problems).

A church member who does know their spiritual gift and is not using it is not just cheating their church, but is cheating God. Imagine all of the gifts we try to remember to display or wear because a certain person gave it to us. How much more should we make sure we are using the gifts God has given us?

Last week was about following Jesus (Matthew 4.19). This week, we see that we are given tools (gifts) to use as we are following Him. Although there may be a limited number of tools overall, the uses are as diverse as our individual experiences. But, in order to function as members, we must make the choice to do so. Ultimately, this is about choosing to observe what Christ has commanded us to do.

As we think about the Paul's metaphor of the body, we must also consider that Christ is the head of the church. And, as the head (might we say - the brain), He gives us the direction we need.

But we must not overlook that each of us has a purpose. And it is often the hidden parts that makes what the visible parts do possible. For instance, our skin is visible, but without our bones, it would fall flat. If we cut ourselves, it is not the skin that bleeds, it is the hidden blood vessels under the skin that bleeds. The point is that the visible may get the attention, but without the underlying support, that which is visible cannot function properly. Of course, this is quite true in the church as well. Consider all the behind the scenes work that must happen for a ministry project let alone a weekly service.

So, each of us is important. And as the church (the called out ones), we find that we are called out on purpose...for His purpose. Therefore, to truly live out our calling, we must choose to live our lives with purpose as well.

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