Summary: We need to be connected to a church family so that we can fulfill our calling to serve other believers in practical ways. We need the church and the church needs us. There are no insignificant roles to play in either the church or the body of believers.
Do you know that you have spiritual gifts from God?
That’s right. Each and every one of us has spiritual gifts from God. These gifts come in many different forms. Some are greater than others, but they are equally important. Each gift is essential for the benefit of all believers. The danger is that someone who possesses a public and “impressive” gift might lord it over the one who possesses a private gift of service. Those who have the gift of helping others rarely seek recognition or attention. Their instincts are to reach out and serve other without reward or recognition.
The theme of Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians is unity. The church in Corinth had many issues, but the greatest problem was the lack of unity within the church. In the section of First Corinthians that is just before the reading we heard today, the diversity of the body illustrated the diversity of the gifts within the body of believers. In this section of the Letter, attention is cast on the fact that many members are required to make up one body.
The church today sometimes finds itself in a similar situation. Sometimes there is fighting about who is most important in the church body. This wastes time that would be better spent demonstrating unity and unity to a world that needs a model of genuine community and unity.
One sign of unity is when all members equally care for one another. Spiritual gifts are not just a matter of figuring out what one is good at so he/she can be satisfied in serving. Spiritual gifts are intended to promote unity and working together to share the Good News.
One example of spiritual gifts is the gift of prophecy. Prophets in Old Testament times were those who proclaimed the very words of God before there was a written text. A prophet today is one who proclaims the very words of God as revealed in the Scriptures. Paul listed apostles first and speaking in tongues last. The Corinthians were putting speaking in tongues first and casting aspersions on the apostles, especially since the apostles were acting in a similar manner to Old Testament prophets.
Some believers have the gift of preaching while others have the gift of leadership. Not everyone has the same gift, and not everything we do will satisfy us 100% of the time. Not all roles or gifts are equally exciting, but they are equally important. Everyone works together and they are firmly planted on the foundation of their faith in God. In the children’s talk you will hear in a few minutes, I compare the church to a human body. Being a Christian is like being a part of a human body. Each Christian is unique, but each Christian is part of something bigger, namely, the Body of Christ. If we aren’t connected to the church, we won’t know the purpose of our lives. We won’t know our role or our function. We won’t know our value or our meaning. We need to be in relationships with other people. We have to learn from others if we want to fulfill our potential and our role within the Body of Christ.
God creates people to carry out specific kinds of work in order to meet human needs. God uniquely designs each of us. He fits each of us for certain tasks. He distributes skills, abilities, interests and personalities among us so that we can carry out his work in the world. That work includes spiritual tasks and secular tasks such as health, education, business, law and so on.
In light of what has gone before within the Corinthian church, Paul’s exhortation to desire the best gifts may seem contradictory. As the following verses will reveal, what Paul considers the best gifts will be quite different from that the Corinthians had been pursuing. The best gifts are those that glorify God the most.
The church is the body of Christ. Every believer is part of that body, so every believer should make the church a priority. When church isn’t a priority, believers deprive themselves and fellow believers. That foundation helps us work together, especially when one member is suffering. Believer are encouraged to come together to help fellow believers when they suffer. The best way to help is for each believer to use his/her gifts. When we use our gifts to do God’s work, we strengthen each other and the Church as a whole.
We need to be connected to a church family so that we can fulfill our calling to serve other believers in practical ways. We need the church and the church needs us. There are no insignificant roles to play in either the church or the body of believers. Every role is of equal importance, because all of the roles are connected. This is something for us to seriously consider at this time of year. It is time for church and parish annual meetings, and during these meetings people are elected to various positions of leadership within a church or the parish. If you are asked to consider running for a position, it means that the people who are asking you think that you have gifts that are especially suitable for the position.