Many Gifts, One Spirit

“There are different spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; and there are different ministries and the same Lord; and there are different activities but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6, Common English Bible)

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Dear Friends,

American Idol just completed its thirteenth season. I have only watched portions of it on a few occasions through the years. I found it both difficult to watch and captivating at the same time.

It is captivating to see people giving their all to be the next American “idol.” It is captivating to witness a few of the contestants wow the audience with their talents. On the other hand, it is hard to watch when those who do not possess the talents and gifts for becoming the next “American Idol” are, one by one, subjected to humiliation. While it is true that they are there voluntarily and must know at least something of what they are going to be subjected to, it is still tough to watch. The message of the program is pretty clear: there are just a few people who can be called gifted. The rest are just good for a few laughs.

We are captivated by the notion of being gifted and talented. Just for grins I did a Google search on the phrase “gifted and talented.” There were more than five million hits. It is clearly something we’re interested in! We are very interested in the giftedness of certain children. We praise the giftedness of certain athletes. We celebrate the gifts of those with outstanding talents every day. We, in fact, make idols of them — an interesting word for our stars, don’t you think? We “worship” these figures. Now, I know we don’t really worship them, but it is an interesting metaphor for our attitudes and admiration, isn’t it? There are idols—gifted people— and then there are the vast multitudes who are not gifted. Just normal people. We think that way, don’t we?

However, when scripture talks about giftedness, it is used to describe everyone. Every person is gifted!  You are gifted. I am gifted.  And each of us is gifted in a unique way.  In 1 Corinthians 12, after Paul lists many examples of the kinds of talents and gifts people possess, he states the source: “All these things are produced by the one and same Spirit who gives what he wants to each person.” These are not just gifts, they are gifts of the Spirit. He goes on to say that we are like a body with many parts, each part having its own unique purpose and function. We are, in fact, the Body of Christ. The ministry of Christ begun before his death now continues to be done by his body, the Church, following his resurrection. He then says, “You are the Body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27)

What are your gifts?  What talents and gifts has God given you to put to use for the sake of God and the sake of others?

I look forward to seeing you Sunday as we ponder these questions together.

Grace and Peace,

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