With any big change there is confusion, uncertainty, and a level of fear. One issue we’ve noticed as we’ve moved into our smaller home gatherings is some people simply don’t understand where they fit or how they can be useful participants outside of the traditional American church model. People are used to associating serving with tasks like yard maintenance, cleaning the building, greeting visitors, teaching a children’s class, or using their musical talents on stage. However, these tasks aren’t what makes a church function, nor were they what enabled the early church to turn “the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).
The church working in unity and love is emphasized throughout the New Testament. We hear in Jesus’ fervent prayer to the Father the plea, “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21). On the surface it can seem like a large and impossible task, but God has never been one to abandon those who love Him. Instead, He lavishes His love on us, calling us His children, and providing us with good gifts. One of those gifts is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and He is a gift that keeps on giving!
The Holy Spirit Himself provides us with many different but unifying, edifying, and equipping gifts. These gifts are discussed in Romans 12:3-8, Ephesians 4:11-16, 1 Peter 4:7-11, and 1 Corinthians 12:1-14:25. As we read through and identify the many gifts mentioned in the text, we can also see their purpose. We are to use our gifts to:
1) Realize our equality in Christ and act in humility toward one another (Romans 12:3-5; 1 Corinthians 12:4-26).
2) Equip the saints for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:12).
3) Build up the body of Christ to the unity of the faith and love (Ephesians 4:12-13, 16; 1 Corinthians 13:1—14:25).
4) Serve one another (1 Peter 4:10).
5) Glorify God (1 Peter 4:11).
Over the next ninety days, we will focus on identifying our own spiritual gifts and learning how to exercise them in practical ways. (It may help you to reread this post or to listen again to this talk.) Just as we are not Christians on Sundays only, we look forward to using these gifts throughout each week. Thankfully, the arrival of summer has left several of our body with more free time to fill, and we need to support our evangelists in reaching out to our neighborhoods. As we prepare ourselves and our groups for this task, this discussion about spiritual gifts is crucial. We all have a role to play, equipped and empowered by the same Spirit who rose Jesus from the dead. Please join us in prayer, asking the Lord to build us up unto maturity, remove our fears, and add to our number “day by day those who [are] being saved” (Acts 2:47).