Valerie is a 42-year-old, single, Reformed Christian lady who lives in Baltimore. She doesn't remember a time
before she knew and loved Jesus, but she does remember accepting John Calvin into her heart in March of 2000.
Valerie is a member of Christ Reformed Evangelical Church in Annapolis.
Though her career aspiration is to be a housewife, Valerie has not yet found anyone suitable who wishes to hire
her for employment in that field (or, more properly, anyone suitable has not found her), so in the meantime she
earns her daily bread working in communications -- editing, writing, print design and website management.
Highly Recommended Listening
The following quote is from "The Spirit-Filled Life," a sermon preached by K.C. Rumrey at Christ Church, Moscow, Idaho, on February 10. It should remain available for download for about 7 or 8 weeks from now.
As we come to verses 14-26 [of 1 Corinthians 12], Paul's point here is that God has put the body together exactly the way he wants it. In verse 18 he says, "God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as He chose." Paul's speaking to the church at a local level here, and he's saying that God has put this body together exactly the way He wants it. This statement by Paul would have dismissed any complaints that the Corinthians may have had about the fellow brothers and sisters that they were worshiping with. This statement, the fact that God has put this body together exactly the way He wants it, needs to have an effect on us. It needs to have an impact on your understanding of the brothers and sisters around you. The fact that God has given the gifts that we have as a church -- He's given us the exact gifts that He wants us to have -- every single member, from the bottom up, and the gifts that they have are exactly what God wants. And the gifts that we don't have? The gifts that we're lacking? We're not to be all that concerned about that. And we're certainly not to complain about that. We're to have no complaints about God's work. What we are to be concerned about is using the gifts that He has given us, being responsible for those gifts so that we may reflect Him in this community and amongst one another.
I love the local church. Although it doesn't explicitly mention it, this message is one of the best arguments I've ever heard in favor of membership and commitment to a local congregation of Christ's body. The gifts aren't just a collection of enablements, the gifts are people. Without committed membership, how would we even know what gifts we had in our body, much less count on them? So here's to membership vows, and the keeping of them, and the refusal to take them lightly by walking away without sufficient cause. Most importantly, here's to brotherly affection and love. Here's to seeing one another as gifts, and being grateful for those gifts. Here's to seeing ourselves as gifts, giving ourselves away by yielding to the Spirit's bestowal of us on one another. Here's to greater zeal in service, greater fervor in prayer, greater generosity in hospitality, greater courage in encouragement, greater self-abandonment in humility. Here's to repentance for all the ways in which we've failed one another, greater willingness to forgive and to seek forgiveness from one another. Here's to seeing and delighting in one another with gracious eyes that behold every brother and sister as a glorious light shining in a crooked and perverse world. Here's to being clearly recognizable (and deeply enviable) as Christ's disciples because we have love one for another.
Mr. Rumrey goes on to note two things that we need to learn in order to care rightly for one another and to avoid divisions in the body:
In verse 26 he says that we need to learn to suffer. We need to learn to suffer, and we need to learn to rejoice. ... If you want to live as the body of Christ in such a way that would glorify Him and reflect Him, you need to learn to suffer and you need to learn to rejoice like Him. Yet, like the Trinity, it's learning to suffer for others, and it's learning to rejoice for others. For it's not all that difficult to learn to suffer when the pain is welling up in your own body. And it's not all that difficult to rejoice when you are the one that's being honored. But we need to understand that this is exactly what Paul's point was -- that when a member of the body of Christ suffers, the most natural thing to do is to suffer with them. And when a member of the body of Christ is honored, the most natural thing to do is to rejoice with them. And in Paul calling the Corinthians and calling us to live in such a way, he's calling us to be the most intimate and unified of families.
Think about it: as parents, when we see our children suffering, we go through mental agony. Why? Because we want to take that pain, we want to take that suffering upon ourselves more than anything. ... And when our children are honored and blessed, we seem to rejoice, and we seem to experience more joy than they do, or anybody else. And this is the way that Paul wanted the Corinthians to conduct themselves with one another. And this is how we are to treat one another. And this is how we are to live with one another, as well. ... One thing we must understand is that, just like parenting, suffering with one another is never going to be convenient. ... Suffering with one another is never going to be easy, yet it's in this sacrifice, it's in this death that we learn what it means to be truly a parent. ... And it's [not] until we are willing to learn to sacrifice ourselves for one another and suffer for one another -- it's not until we learn to do that [that] we learn what it means to be a Christian, [that] we learn what it means to be like Christ.
Being able to rejoice with others is a different challenge than suffering with others, but it involves the same death you must go through when you suffer with one another. To rejoice with one another, we must be humble, and therefore we must cut off our pride. ... Just like suffering, when we're called to rejoice with one another, it's always going to come at the wrong time. ... It's in the midst of our trials when God will be calling us to rejoice with one another.
Paul, throughout this letter, has set him[self] forth to the Corinthians as a model, as a picture for them to imitate. He tells them, "Imitate me! Imitate me as I imitate Christ." How did Paul imitate Christ? In chapter 9, verse 19, Paul said that though he was free, he made himself a servant of all. Sounds a lot like Christ, the most free of all beings, the most glorious, most powerful, yet He relinquished that freedom and became a servant, a servant to the point of death. Paul, in chapter 9, verse 22, said [that] to the weak he became weak. Paul, in some sense, becomes what he's not. Jesus becomes what He's not. Though He's God, though He's all-powerful, all-knowing, perfectly free, He becomes a slave, He becomes weak, He becomes a servant to the point of death. And this is what Paul's calling us to do here when he tells us to suffer with one another and to rejoice with one another. Even though we may not be suffering, even though we may not be pained, he says, suffer. That's radical! That takes the incarnation. That's the only way that that can happen -- that type of radical change. And if you want to be Emmanuel, God with us, it can happen through the Spirit of God. But that takes place when we're willing to suffer for those who are suffering and rejoice with others when we're not necessarily being blessed right now -- at least it doesn't appear that way; at least it doesn't feel that way. We're to relinquish our freedoms and become enslaved to one another.
I'm going to end with this quote. C.S. Lewis in The Weight of Glory captures this great calling and responsibility of ours to be other-oriented, to be focused on serving those around us. He says,
It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour's glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.
It is in the light of the potential glory of the church of God, it is in the light of the potential glory of your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ that you are called to do all that you do.
The Spirit-filled life is a life that is filled with suffering and rejoicing. We are not to be all that concerned with the suffering we are going through, or even the honor that we are receiving. We are to be more concerned with the suffering and rejoicing of those around us, and finding ways that we can share in it. It is in the suffering and joy of those around us where life is taking place, and if we are not willing to share with them in that suffering and joy, then we will be out of step with the Spirit, and life will pass us by.
Amen and amen and amen! Lord, grant that this message would sink deep into my stubborn, selfish bones...and into the stubborn, selfish bones of everyone in my beloved church, that we might truly live with the life of Christ!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10:28 AM
On February 23, 2008 3:36 PMpentamomwrote... This is interesting light of a situation I'm currently in -- well, observing more than "in," I suppose. A friend and her husband are currently struggling with church issues -- they've pretty much determined that their erstwhile church is not somewhere they can remain, but can't settle on a new home (despite earnestly seeking -- they know finding a place is important.)
I would SOOOO much like to see this family in our church -- not merely because I would enjoy having Dianne more of a part of my life, or even because I happen to think my church is a really great place to be, but because of what they could bring to our church. As my husband said of the family, "I think we would be good for them, and they would be good for us." The kicker is, though, that the "gifts" that Dianne seems (genuinely) to have aren't immediately what I see as the benefits -- she needs as much as anything right now to be in a church where "what can I sign you up for" isn't the first question after the membership examination; that kind of church culture is part of what they're fleeing. But I want THEM -- I want their hands and their hearts and what will flow out of them, even if that isn't, in the short term, going to be the Official Gifts from the Official List.
And of course, knowing some of their struggles, I want to be that to them also, but not in the sense that I'm thinking "I'm really good at X so I can help there" -- I just want to be there for them, alongside them.