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Monday, September 12, 2005 AD
'He Gave Some to Be...'
(I posted this a week ago, but it was quickly buried beneath several other posts, so I'm bumping it to the top, since I rather liked it, but it didn't get many comments.)

A couple years ago, in some previous incarnation of his blog, Mark wrote something that has stuck with me. The gist was that when we trot out our catalog of spiritual gifts, the list should include not only abstract abilities such as exhortation or administration or hospitality, but people: "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers...." To make it even less abstract, I can say that He gave Angie and Betsy and Karen, Paul and Ken and Mike, Jeremy and Olivia and Dorothy. So I can approach the Church like a perpetual birthday party: I've hardly begun to open and enjoy all these presents!

Of course I need to think corporately about these gifts, too. They're not just for me, they're for the whole body. Sometimes that's going to be obvious: For instance, when Eric preaches, we all get to listen and be edified. Other times it may be less obvious: For instance, Nianque, a young single woman, has a real knack for loving other people's kids. That's not going to benefit me in the same way it's going to benefit the little ones, but I can benefit indirectly a) by observing and learning from her, and b) by delighting in their being blessed. If we love people, it's a great pleasure to watch them open the presents at their perpetual birthday parties, too! Probably no one individual is going to be a gift to any two others in exactly the same way, so we shouldn't expect that, but should guard against envy by rejoicing with those who are blessed in ways we haven't been.

And here's a daunting thought: I'm a gift to the whole body, too. In what way? I dunno, exactly, but I'm pretty sure of one thing: I'm probably not going to find out by taking some multiple-choice test that purports to discern my gifts. As someone recently pointed out (I'd give credit, but I've forgotten who it was or in what context) Matthew 25 indicates that most of us are going to be pretty clueless about the service we render to Christ as we minister to one another. The faithful will be surprised to find out that they fed Him when He was hungry. A better approach than taking one of those tests would be simply to strive to love the brethren to the best of my ability and understanding. I don't think I'm particularly good at loving anybody. My selfishness is of far too vast proportions. But I know that I feel a great deal of affection for the folks in my church, and that's a good thing, so I should go with that emotion and nurture it. As it grows, perhaps it will ignite my now-feeble prayers and inspire me to greater sacrificial service.

Finally, as I open these spiritual gifts at my perpetual birthday party, I must remember my manners and send thank-you notes for each one: humble, sincere, effusive, and frequent prayers of gratitude to the Spirit who has given Amy and Xia and Laura, Terry and Dave and Jeff, Molly and Harrison and Calvin, and so on and so on and so on.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9/12/2005 07:12:00 PM • Permalink

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