“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” (1Corinthians 12:4-6)
Today we are using the same verse as yesterday, but with a different emphasis.
Or should I say… an emphasis on the different?
The God Who is at work within (and through0 us is going to do what He does in different ways. Some unexpected ways. Maybe some uncomfortable ways. And, when it gets right down to it, those are the types of things that make us feel uneasy.
We tend to like things to be the same… done in the same ways, with the same (predictable) outcomes. We like the safety of sameness – even if it does tend to cause us to lose interest.
It’s probably the main reason WHY church is done the way it is done today. A familiar format: Worship. Announcements. Scripture Reading. Prayer. Sermon/Homily. Altar call/sacraments. All in a neat and comfortable time frame, in a neat and comfortable facility, with a neat and comfortable order to things.
But do we really understand what the apostle is emphasizing (in our verse for the day)? He is talking about the utilization of spiritual gifts (as distributed to each believer as God chooses, by the Holy Spirit). He is talking about serving each other by those gifts (in the realization that the Lord Jesus is actually the One serving through us!). And the reality of “different kinds of working” that will push the boundaries of our safe and comfortable world AS the Almighty shows up in our gatherings… to truly challenge, admonish, and reinforce our hearts and minds.
We tend to want to “feel good” about church… but God intended for us to feel His Presence instead.
What we need is an encounter with God that centers our hearts in the fact that this is really all about Him… and His glory.
Church is meant to be the place where we are wonderfully reminded of the power and purpose of God – as He declares and demonstrates that power and purpose through each of His people.
But this is where so many Christians unfurl the red flags… and amp up the caution light.
This is where so many ministers/priests are quick to warn us about the dangers and pitfalls of “laypeople” going off all half-cocked. “Led by the Spirit = leading us all off the deep end,” they protest. “Everything must be done decently, and in order.”
And they are right. But I’m pretty sure that their definition of “decently and in order” and the apostle Paul’s definition are two very dissimilar things.
The apostle saw no discrepancy between “spirit-led” and what is proper – because He knew that whenever God is truly in charge, God is the Expert at decent, and in order.
And, after all, one of His character qualities is… self-control.
Are abuses possible (probable!). Sure. Whenever human beings have a part in anything, there is a good chance that things can get “off base” or “out of hand.”
But this is where church leadership plays an essential role.
Teaching. Training. Exhorting. Rebuking. Guiding. Helping people to grow in what Scripture is teaching us… and to hone their sensitivity to just what the Spirit is directing, without getting “caught up” in the moment and reverting back to human effort and input.
No child grows to maturity without making mistakes. No child of God is any different. But growth can only occur with “stepping out” into new things. And by learning to properly use what we have received from God (as He directs us).
But just imagine what church would be like if every believer was sensitive to, and moved by, the Spirit… to do as God desired to do – and spoke and acted (only) under the direct impetus of God within them. Imagine the sensation of being in God’s presence on a regular basis… and feeling the sense of awe and wonder as He ministers through every soul.
Wouldn’t that be a church worthy of our time and attendance?