By Morgan Stoecklein
The Body has many parts
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (1 Corinthians 12:27)
The apostle Paul makes it pretty clear in his letter to the Corinthians that the Church is one organism, working together, each carrying different parts of the load. Every person who puts their trust in Christ as their Lord and Savior belongs to the church, the body of Christ. You are the body of Christ. A part of it, at least. And you have a function, a purpose, which is beautifully vital to the health of the Body.
Do you doubt that you play a crucial role in the Church?
Each part of the Church has a unique duty in serving the larger body. No one greater than another, and each one reliant on another. Did you know that the human body has 12 systems? Muscular system, respiratory system, digestive system, nervous system… the list goes on, but I won’t bore you. In thinking about the body, how could the digestive system think itself more important than the muscular system, and the muscular system more important than the nervous? And how could the teacher consider themselves more valuable than a helper, or someone gifted in showing mercy? Each and every one of these things is essential for the operation of the body. In his great wisdom and grace God has fearfully and wonderfully made his people.
These are gifts from the Holy Spirit
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good, Paul says in his letter to the Corinthians. He explains that to one person there is given, through the Spirit, a certain gift and to another a different gift. But, Paul writes, all of these gifts are the work of the same Spirit and are distributed to each person, exactly as He wills: purposefully and deliberately.
God through Paul said to the church in Ephesus, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked with him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” And so, if the Spirit is in you, He has gifted you with a unique ability to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace. These God given gifts are from Him, for the glory of God and for the good of his Church. The Holy Spirit empowers each person in living out these gifts, as God wills.
Jesus once turned to his disciples, who had given their whole lives to him, and said “the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.” I can imagine that statement was a little bit discouraging for the disciples. “There are a few of you and a lot of them,” Jesus could have said. And I can imagine that that statement holds a little bit of that same weight for those who work in the church. Even if you’ve never worked for a church, it’s likely that you’ve been able to see and feel what it’s like to have too few hands and a lot work to get done. And although Jesus’ purpose in sharing this with the disciples was to encourage them togo share the Good News of the Gospel, I think his words can help us examine what it can be like for us, as members of his body. When parts of its body aren’t exercising their spiritual gifts, others parts may have to take up roles that aren’t fit for them. Certainly, the more each part is found exercising its spiritual gift, the more like a healthy body the Church will become – working together for our good and His glory.
God calls us to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and to love our neighbor as ourself. And this isn’t just within the walls of our church, or only within the Church body (as one part serves another). Rather, we are called to serve God, through our unique spiritual gifts, in our communities, at work, in our homes, and around the world.
So, what about when you’re called to do something outside of the ways God has gifted you?
I have some friends. They are married, with two little ones and are set to head out to a remote village to share the gospel with a small group of people who have probably never heard or experienced the precious love of Christ. When my friends arrive, with their team, God will use them in ways beyond their giftings (but not beyond their training) because they will carry the full responsibility (with complete reliance on God) of raising up a church body between the few of them. And God will still use them in tremendous ways. But their hope and their prayer will be for the native people to come to know the One True God, and with the Holy Spirit’s work and leading, for those new believers, indwelled by the Holy Spirit, to begin exercising their distinct gifts within the church and in their remote village. My friends’ calling has led them into ministry contexts that will require more than their primary giftings.
Look for opportunities to exercise your gifts
As we continue (or get back into) attending our church services on Sundays and as many of us return to the office, to the playground, to parties, and picnics and sporting events, to happy hours, ice cream socials, and bonfire nights – let’s live out our gifts. In the simple yet complex command to love God and our neighbor, we are asked to look around and seek opportunities to teach, to give, to encourage, to show mercy, to implement our spiritual gifts.
How can you allow the Holy Spirit to use the unique gifts he has given you, for the glory of God?