Sunday, January 20, 2013

Cooperation, not competition

Teamwork in spreading the light of the Gospel
TODAY'S SPECIAL: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11

TO CHEW ON: "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all." 1 Corinthians 12:7

We usually think of gifts in terms of how they will please us, how they will be of use to us, how they will enhance our ease or magnify our image. But spiritual gifts (also referred to here as manifestations, ministries and activities) are not like that. They are not primarily about us as individuals but about "all."

Who is this all? In one sense, it is the universal church—the worldwide body of believers who have entered the Kingdom of God or Heaven through being born again (see Jesus' explanation to Nicodemus in John 3:1-21).

But because we can't meaningfully live on such a vast plain, we connect our selves with local churches—smaller bodies of believers that we meet face to face, whom we know and who know us. It is mainly within the local church that our gifts are used, needed, and appreciated—or not.

There's the rub. For spiritual gifts don't all have equal prominence. But we mortals like prominence. And so here Paul's words hit the road of life when he reminds us, these gifts aren't about us, but about the good of "all."

We may never see the custodian who keeps the church shining and the garbage cans emptied, or the secretary who types and prints the bulletin, or the volunteer who puts the nursery worker schedule together, or the team that visits the sick in hospital, or the cooks and kitchen workers who prepare the Alpha meal. But if any of these, and a myriad others, fails in his or her job, don't we notice it!

So as we discover and use our spiritual gifts, let's remind ourselves:
  • Our gift is not about our prominence.
  • It's not about gaining a following.
  • It's not about people's compliments and well dones.
  • Rather, it's about faithfully doing our little under the head—Christ—and leaving the results with Him.

PRAYER: Dear God, I so easily forget the principle of spiritual gifts being for the profit of all. Help me to get my thinking out of the realm of competition, into the realm of cooperation. Amen.

MORE: Our corporate calling

"The call of Jesus is personal, but not purely individual; Jesus summons his followers not only to an individual calling but also to a corporate calling.

"... over against history's involuntary groupings, such as the tribe, the city-state, and the nation, there now stands a new community of God's called-out ones. These are bound together by a covenant and living out a corporate calling that both complements and transcends their calling as individuals" - Os Guinness, The Call, pp. 93, 97.

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  1. "a corporate calling" Many willing hands co-operating can accomplish oodles. Love that each one's bit counts.

  2. So do I love that each one's bit counts. It sure takes a load off, doesn't it?


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