Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Spriritual Gifts

One of the problems I sometimes struggle with in regard to spiritual gifts is they are often talked about in isolation from the broader picture of who we are in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12). C. S. Lewis, in his printed address Membership (from The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses), pictures our place in the body of Christ (not necessarily the same as our position in the current church organization) as the person God is making us into and the place we will have for all eternity. He warns us that this should not be seen as simply the development of our innate abilities. Rather, this is something God works in us, and while it takes in and incorporates elements of our natural life, it is ultimately a new identity created in us by God. Sometimes this process involves (spiritually speaking) the lopping off of limbs or the plucking out of eyes (Matthew 5:29, 30). But it does involve ultimately making us into who we are eternally as part of Christ’s body.

One reason I think we do not think this way is we see our spiritual life (not to be identified with our church life) as something relegated to some corner of our life as a whole. (Our church life should be seen as one aspect of our life. I see church as the practice session for the game of life. The one who does not show up for practice will have trouble actually playing the game, but we should not confuse practice with the main event. Also, our positions in the current church organization may not reflect our place in the eternal body of Christ.) But who we are in Christ should be something that permeates all of our life.

Spiritual gifts, while by no means all, are an important part of that identity. They are not simply some added extra that I can look at as pasted on to the rest of my life. They are part of what God is making me into. All churches are different (see Revelation 2, 3), and each one is a unique part of the larger body of Christ. Our goal should be to find our place and use our gifts within this church and Christ’s body as a whole. I do not believe this is some complicated thing. If we are willing to serve God, I believe He will lead us into the place of service He wants us to have. But we need to be willing to trust Him and step out.

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