4-6 In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.
6-8 If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
We have said before that Romans 12 is and will be an anchor text for Crossroads Church. This text reminds us of our calling:
to present ourselves and our bodies to God as a spiritual act of worship; (UP)
to see with sane judgement our gifts, and to live into them more fully for the benefit of the church and the world and; (IN)
to love one another. (OUT)
This afternoon, we’re going to spend a few minutes talking about the second of those three callings: to see with sane judgement our gifts and to seek to live into those gifts more fully, for the benefit of the church and the world.
Each of us is a part of the body of Christ; we - the church - are the body of Christ. And we all have gifts. What are your gifts? Have you ever thought about it? Have you done any reflection on this idea, either through any number of spiritual gifts inventories, through your own prayer and meditation, or perhaps through conversation with others? Let me also read here a v. 3 from JB Philips version of the Bible:
As your spiritual teacher I give this piece of advice to each one of you. Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities by the light of the faith that God has given to you all.
It’s clear from this passage (and others) that we all have gifts. These gifts are made full in the context of the rest of the body. Each of us have very specific gifts that God has given for the sake of the whole body. And that whole body (church) is then expected to serve the world. But the first step is to have a sane estimate, or a sound judgement about our own gifts. Next week we are going to talk more about what sorts of gifts these might be, but in the coming week, we invite each of you to do some meditation on your own gifts. We’ll be sending out an email with various spiritual gift assessments that you can do (or not do - no pressure!) to prepare yourself a bit for our discussion next week. This is a part of having sane estimation or sound judgement about our own gifts.
Another part of this sound judgement is encouraging one another in these gifts (without enviously or pridefully comparing to one another; let’s just be who we are meant to be). Part of this discernment and growth process in these gifts comes from interactions with one another - we need to affirm and call each other to high standards. I see a gift in you! How can I help you fully live into that? Celebration of one another is a huge part of this kind of life.
“Family struggles” and “transition” seem to be two major themes that the Lord keeps bringing to our attention. Perhaps as He works in each of us, healing and teaching us, then we are to help and teach one another, so that we all then can function more fully to reach out and help the community at large with these very same issues. How many people at Salem State University have family struggles? How many people there are struggling with some sort of transition? How about people in the neighborhood - family, job, financial...the list goes on and on.
Finally, once we have some sense of our own gifts and have been encouraging one another to grow in these gifts, we are to use them in service of one another and the world. Has God given you a gift, a passion? Once you are aware of it, the time to act is upon you. Act on as much as God has revealed to you. This is your calling, this is my calling, and this is the Church’s great calling.