Summary: As with most large families, we who are in Christ's family sometimes wonder where we fit in.
“Getting A Clue: how Do I Fit In?”
1 Cor. 12:1-31; 1 John 4:7-12
As a college freshman I was invited to pledge a fraternity. Feeling honored and excited I agreed to do so. I knew most of the fraternity members and most of the pledges and was friends with many of them. But a few weeks into the pledging I began to feel uncomfortable. There was no one particular thing or issue – I just began to wonder how I fit in to the fraternity life-style. I could never answer that question to quell that feeling, so eventually I dropped out. I thought about that as I considered the question for today. So far in this series we’ve been talking about who and whose we are – rediscovering our identity through Jesus Christ. We’ve stressed that we have much in common and all are part of Jesus’ family. Yet we are also each different and unique. And as is the case with any large family, we, as family members, sometimes wonder how we fit in. What is our role? What can we contribute that makes a difference?
Our passages for today provide us with some clues. First, in his Corinthian letter Paul reminds us we fit in because of GOD’S GIFT DISTRIBUTION. Do you know that you have charisma?You are charismatic. Charisma, in our society, refers to someone with a dazzling personality, with enthusiasm, who draws the attention of others. We say that he or she has charisma. It’s an intangible influence on which no one can put a finger. While it might be nice to have that kind of charisma, it’s not what Paul refers to. As Paul uses the word, CHARISMA MEANS A GIFT OF GRACE. Listen again: “There are different kinds of gifts (charismata), but the same Spirit… to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given… All these are the work of one and the same Spirit…” You have been given charismata – gifts.
These charismata – these gifts – are SPECIAL MANIFESTATIONS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. God shows Himself, displays Himself, through these gifts. Michael Harper defines spiritual gifts this way: “Spiritual gifts are certain powers given to men (women) by the Holy Spirit and freely bestowed and manifested through our natural faculties (mind, mouth, hands, etc.) ...” (1) The gifts cannot be purchased, earned, imitated – they are given exclusively by the Holy Spirit.
The GIFTS ARE DISTRIBUTED BY THE SPIRIT’S CHOICE. (12:11): “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one just as he determines.” (Heb. 2:4): “God also testified to it by signs, wonders, and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” Every gift I have, every gift you have, is by divine design.
And THERE IS A DIVERSITY OF GIFTS. Some of them as listed in the Bible are: prophecy, ministry (helps), teaching, exhorting, giving, governing, showing mercy, words of wisdom or knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, discernment, tongues, interpretation, evangelism, pastoring, administration, leadership, hospitality, and intercession. But EVERY CHRISTIAN HAS AT LEAST ONE GIFT – and most more than one – and no one has them all. If you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, if you have opened your heart to receive the Holy Spirit, you are charismatic - gifted! To be a Christian is to be charismatic – to be in possession of grace-gifts from God. Each of us is unique as the Spirit distributes our gift mixes. Even if we have the same gifts, we have different personalities, temperaments, and talents, different ministries through which we exercise the gifts. Therefore no two combinations are alike.
We fit in by using our spiritual gifts. In fact, Paul states that THEY ARE A UNIFYING FACTOR. “There are different kinds of gifts…to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good...” Too often we hate diversity and love conformity. In Peanuts, Sally once said to Linus, “I would have made a good evangelist. You know that kid who sits behind me in school? I convinced him that my religion is better than his religion.” “How’d you do that?” asked Linus. “I hit him with my lunch box.” When it comes to spiritual gifts, we have no need to beat each other over the head with our gifts; all the gifts come from God at His discretion, everyone has at least one, and no one has them all. As Leslie Flynn put it, “Practice of the biblical doctrine of gifts untaps reservoirs of godly manpower, thaws out frozen assets, roots out unemployment among saints…and edifies the church.”(2) We have no need to beat each other over the head with our gifts. The diversity of gifts, properly used, are to be a unifying factor.