“Spirit-Given” Gifts


This past Sunday (message link here), our pastor observed that when we speak of “spiritual gifts” we really are speaking of Spirit-given gifts. That is one of the points Paul makes in his teaching on gifts in 1 Corinthians 12. One Spirit gives gifts to all followers of Christ.

Bob Trube2I thought this was a helpful observation for several reasons:

1. As Rich mentioned, “spiritual” in our culture can mean anything and everything and some of our associations don’t mean what the apostle meant.

2. “Spiritual gifts” may sound like gifts that inhabit some vaguely spiritual part of our lives. “Spirit-given” gifts remind us that these gifts originate in God and not in us.

3. “Spirit-given” gifts are actually gifts expressed through bodily actions like speaking or administering, or caring for physical needs of others. They don’t exist in some vague, ethereal realm but their expression is just as real as baking, writing software, snow-plowing, or painting.

4. “Spirit-given” provokes the question “why”. We might be inclined to just “have” spiritual gifts but when you are entrusted with something you have to ask why it was given to you. Paul makes it clear that these are given to each for the good of all. We can’t keep them to ourselves.

The question for most of us is discovering what gifts we have been given. The SHAPE guide is one way to get at this. Along with this, I’ve found two other ways many people discover their gifts One is when we see something that needs said or done that is patently obvious to us and no one else seems to step forward. What is obvious to us is not always obvious to others and this may be a sign of God’s gifting. On the other hand, sometimes others see what we can’t and one of the gifts we give each other is affirming the gifts we see in another.

What both have in common is throwing ourselves into the life of our community. We may find ourselves doing things we never thought we were capable of, which in fact are “Spirit-given”. Someone recently shared that the “sweet spot” in life is where God’s call and gifting on us, our passions, and the world’s needs meet. Here’s to living in the “sweet spot”!


When the Lord’s Supper was a Real Meal


One of the interesting discoveries you make in reading Paul’s letter to the Corinthians was that the “Lord’s Supper” was a real meal! That’s what we learned last Sunday in Pastor Rich’s message on 1 Corinthians 11:17-34.  And that was the problem! The meal that was meant to remind them of their unity and equality in Christ became a cause for division because the rich indulged themselves with the food they brought while the poor who could bring little watched others eat while they went hungry.

Bob Trube2

Rich talked about how our worship is a time of “going together”–that as we move toward God we move toward each other. And the “Lord’s Supper” or Eucharist is meant to be a meal that celebrates our common salvation in Christ–that the things that distinguish us in the rest of life should not distinguish us when we “go together” with others in the church. No one should get special treatment. There should be no “in crowd”. And it seems that this is the case, particularly in our threefold communion times where a teenager may wash the feet of an elderly person, where we all equally share the food, and where the bread and cup are distributed to all.

It is worthwhile asking if distinctions creep in at other times and draw us apart. The fact that we are young and old, from different ethnic backgrounds, and do enjoy differing degrees of economic success–do these ever crop up and divide us? The fact that we are quite diverse seems to be a good thing. But do we value difference, even when we are not sure what value people who are different from us bring to our body? Unity and equality in Christ don’t mean we are all the same. Rather unity and equality mean we are all different and yet equally valuable. We all are equal at the cross–all of us needed Jesus death.  And we are one by sharing in common Christ’s death for us, reflected in the bread and cup we share. We don’t have to create unity by eliminating diversity.

Rich asked us to reflect on “In what ways am I neglecting the needs of others and thinking about myself?” It strikes me that one way I do this is when I fail to value those most different from me in our congregation enough to even know what they need, or whether they are in need. Sometimes though, what people need most is not to have a need met, but to have their uniqueness affirmed as important. What a terrible loss it would be if someone’s unique gifts went unnoticed. That’s my application–to try with Christ’s grace to break out of my self-absorption enough to be a person who notices.