As a follower of Christ, I know that His Spirit lives within me. Jesus promised the disciples He would come; He arrived on Pentecost, enabling them to preach with boldness and in new languages. A fire was lit, not only above their heads, but in their hearts. Now, God's people had within them the power of the very Spirit of God.
When I was in college, I had this phase where I was trying to figure out how to "get the Spirit." The root desire was that when I got the Spirit, I'd have it made, I'd get "the Christian thing" right, I'd be a superstar believer. Yeah, really honorable, I know. I honestly did want to follow God passionately and understand His will, but I was looking for an end, wanting to skip over the process of sanctification and my daily need for the blood of Jesus. In the midst of searching for some Spirit experience, I missed the fact that He was already dwelling within me. He was there; I just didn't get it.
Over the last several years, the Holy Spirit has become very dear to me. I'm in awe when I have an inclination to serve someone or when someone comes to mind who I need to call or write, because I know the Spirit is prompting. I'm even more in awe when my proud heart feels convicted of sin. That's not a sign that God's done with me, that's a sign God's at work in me, whispering, Hey, it's time to repent and believe, little one. The more we're aware of the Spirit of God at work in us, in fact, the less we feel like a superstar and the more we're drawn to worship the God at work in our hearts. It's cool and I wish I could dwell more in that place ... so looking forward to heaven!
But we're here now, given days to love and serve God on this side of heaven. What should that look like?
Over the next few days, we'll consider a couple of chapters of I Corinthians, 12 and 13. Here's how this connects to what we've been talking about there rest of the month. God calls us as individuals to believe and follow Him, but he calls us into a new community, a new family. He's got work for us to do there. In previous weeks, we've looked at our need to be saved from our sin, several specific sins and how the Gospel frees us to admit them & root them out, and ways that God uses our circumstances to shape us - all of these are means God uses to help us abandon the clamour of self-will. Now we're getting into the becoming more yourself than ever part of Lewis' quote. Who are you? How has God knit you together? What do you bring to the body? Beyond the basic call of all Christians, what specific calling does God have for you?
That's too much for one post, for sure, but we'll get started today and see where it takes us!
1 Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.
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 the message of wisdom, to another the 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, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.I Corinthians 12:1-11
Some overarching observations for consideration (verses in parenthesis):
- Spiritual gifts exist. (1, 4)
- There are a great variety of spiritual gifts. (4, 8-10)
- The variety of gifts come one source, the Spirit. (4, 11)
- Spiritual gifts are given with a purpose: the common good. (7)
- Spiritual gifts are given intentionally, just as the Spirit determines. (11)
Here are some things I think we can take away from those general points:
- If you call Jesus Lord, the Spirit lives in you and you have been given spiritual gifts.
- Though there may be some overlap, your spiritual "gift bag" will not be the same as others'.
- Our differences should bind us together and we should encourage one another in using our gifts, because the same Spirit has given these gifts intentionally for the good of the church.
Differences too often drive a wedge between us. I love the constant reminder through these eleven verses that all of that great variety of gifting comes from ONE source. The Lord expressing Himself in so many ways through His people. I think it's neat, to say the least. It also challenges me to think differently about how I interact with those next to me in the pews on Sunday or fellow believers I know in other spheres of life. We'll move on to that tomorrow, taking a look at the rest of chapter 12 to consider our interconnection with the body. Then we'll follow that up with chapter 13 on Saturday. Sunday will be a day of rest, and Monday I'll conclude the series and announce the book winners - comment here if you want your name in the running!