Monday, January 23, 2012

Getting Rid of Excuses Part Two

I would love to serve you Jesus, but not in THAT way....

My mantra for this year has been Matthew 6:33.  I must admit that it is not the easiest verse to follow.  As I try to seek first the kingdom and God's righteousness, I find that my own pride sometimes gets in the way.  Often times, we think of God's kingdom as the church, meaning, the church we attend or are affiliated with.  Therefore, our righteousness is sometimes measured by what position we have or how active we are.  If we are truly seeking the kingdom, our church attendance would be at a high percentage.  If we were truly righteous, we would serve in a position of leadership.  However, this way of thinking is far from the truth.

Paul writes about the unity of the Church and the spiritual gifts given among the members in 1 Corinthians 12.  He begins the chapter by discussing that it the Spirit who gives, apportions, and empowers all service to God (1 Cor. 12:11).  However, the Corinthian church had a status problem.  There was a lack of unity between the higher class and lower class and position meant everything to them. Therefore, there was a problem in Corinth with people seeking out the gifts that they were not given.  They were unhappy with the service to which they were empowered.  Some of the roles within the church were being viewed as noble, while others were being viewed as less honorable.  In today's church, it would be comparing a national pastor to the local toilet scrubber of the church.  Therefore, there was potential tension within the community.  The "lesser" members perhaps would feel less important while the "more important" members might look down on the others.  Yet, Paul emphasizes that  God composes the body, gives great honor to those who lack it, and appoints the roles (1 Corinthians 12:28).  Therefore, in God's eyes, each role is the same and is all useful for His glory.  However, the Corinthians continue to "earnestly desire" the greatest gifts. 
Paul then tells the Corinthians that there is a way to unity that far surpasses the direction they are going.  His next section is his famous lesson on love: 1 Corinthians 13.  For Christians, pursuing the kingdom is not about what gifts you have or what position you hold because God gave you that gift and placed you in that role.  The way to building the kingdom is love.  The Corinthians had it wrong: seeking higher gifts and status were not the answer because the sovereign God gave them out in His plan for the Church.  Love is what will build the kingdom and unify the Church.

Sometimes we get so caught up in "refining our gifts" so God can "use us for His kingdom" that we forget who gave us the gift and who placed us in His service. Oftentimes, the far superior way of the kingdom is staring us in the face.  It is the child asking us to read him a story.  It is the friend who looks like she needs to talk.  It is the stranger we feel convicted to share the message of Christ.  Yet, we get so distracted by what "tier" we are on in this false hierarchy of the Church. We get mad when someone does not complement our “service”, be it a solo at worship or a lesson in Sunday school.  We get hurt when we are not asked to join a committee.  Yet, all the while, when it comes to our work, what God asks of us is fairly simple: serve where He places you, utilize the gift He gives you, and do both in love.

 ESV  Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 3:17 ESV)

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