“Now to each one the manifestation of Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Cor 12:7)
From the early days of American conquest by the European community, the halls of USA are decorated with the likes of the brave souls who fought long odds to build a rough hewn society in an untamed land.
We often picture the characters of the American expansion as “the lone ranger” types … out on their own making their place in the world.
This is the United States of America … the land where we have idolized the rugged individualist … the place where we have been told we need to stand on our own two feet … where we admire those who go it alone.
But we have embraced a dreadful mischaracterization. Just like “the Lone Ranger” had his Tonto, John Smith needed the intervention of Pocahontas. The Pilgrims needed the Wampanoag to help them get acclimated to this new land. Clark began his journey with Lewis, but then was joined, also, by Sakajawea as a guide.
In the same way, we, in the church, need one another. We were not created to do Christianity on our own.
However, it is not just for company that we need one another. We have needs in each of our lives that we are incapable of addressing unless we have someone to walk beside us help us out:
- When we are down and out, having been kicked in the teeth repeatedly, in life, we need those with the gifts of encouragement to help us rally the fortitude to keep on going;
- When we are uninformed, ignorant of God’s desires for our lives, we need those with the gifts of a word of knowledge, wisdom and teaching to speak God’s truth into our lives, giving us an informed foundation to build upon;
- When we are being force feed lies, both blatantly spiritual and less clearly spiritual, we need someone with the gifts of discernment and teaching who can help us sort through the fog to see and understand God’s truth;
- When we are going without because of hardships, like the loss of a job, we need those with the gifts of giving and mercy to minister to us in our need;
- When we can’t stop crying because the pain we feel is so deep, we need those with the gift of mercy to provide a shoulder to cry on;
- When we have a job that needs done, and lack the skills or time to accomplish it, we might welcome those with the gifts of craftsmanship or helps to provide what we lack;
- When we have a life crisis or health issue, and we want someone to join us before God’s throne, we are blessed by those with the gifts of intercession and healing who not only pray with us, but over us.
We need the gifts, talents, abilities, temperaments that God has distributed throughout his diverse body for our own good. Yet, these gifts and abilities were not distributed throughout the church just for our good, so that we would feel close to God and feel his hand upon us, but for the good of the entire body.
That is why you have been gifted as well. Someone needs what God has invested in you. I cannot only be on the receiving end. I must also be a contributor. I serve the common good by finding the place my special assortment of gifts, talents, abilities, insights, and experiences are needed to enrich and strengthen the rest of the body.
As each member of the body utilizes their divine shape in ministry it serves the common good because the entire body is built up (Eph. 4:11ff).
I have to admit … I am a concrete thinker. My tendency is to think in terms of things that are well established, things that can be counted on … a sure thing … that is my box. I like the routine, consistent, repetitive and habitual … (and that may surprise those that think of me as someone who is always changing things).
However, sometimes I am forced to “think outside of the box”, to think in terms of what could be and how that would come about. Those moments come when it becomes apparent that the same old practice produces the same old results (or no results at all), but a differing result is desired.
- Publicity gets people to church;
- Growing churches host outreach events;
- Lost people’s first contact with the church is Sunday worship.