Romans 12:4-5 “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
I am not a craft person. I am astounded at what others can do, but doing crafts is not within my skill set. Across my years as a layperson, I did just about everything in the church, but I did not teach any Sunday School class younger than Jr. High, specifically because I couldn’t deal with the crafts. I didn’t like cutting and pasting in Kindergarten, sewed my first skirt backwards in Home Economics class, and completely rebelled when I was forced to paint a bookmark at a women’s retreat just last year. Why should I have to sit there and spend time creating what will be, under my inept hands, an ugly bookmark? So I took a group of other craft-haters and we went and did storytelling.
While it is very satisfying to discover that I have a real talent for something, I have found it surprisingly freeing also to recognize the things I do poorly. Not only does it relieve me of experiencing repeated failures, but it has allowed me to form some wonderful partnerships with people whose gifts complement my own. Right after college I wrote plays and musicals and puppet shows for several years. There was nothing better than combining my writing talents with others who were wonderful actors, great musicians, and skilled technicians to bring those words to life on the stage. The final product was more than the sum of its parts.
That sort of partnership is the way life in the church is supposed to be. Just after the verses above, Paul goes on to outline the different sorts of gifts that God gives to people…prophesying, teaching, serving, encouraging, giving, governing, being merciful. Part of our Christian calling is to figure out which of those gifts (or others) God has given to us, and to recognize that the quiet gifts of mercy and encouragement are equally as important as the more extroverted gifts of teaching and governing. Equally as important is recognizing what gifts we don’t have. If the one whose best gift is teaching has accepted a position visiting the sick, the church has lost twice. Those who could have benefited from the teaching don’t have it, and those who need encouragement are visited by someone who is probably trying to teach them something. If the visitation slot is filled, the encourager then might opt for teaching Sunday School. The kids in class will probably feel very encouraged about their progress, but they actually might not have learned anything!
God has been very sly in giving gifts to people. Nobody gets all the gifts. We all get different gifts in different combinations, forcing us to form partnerships and work together as a whole body. Christian faith is not a solitary religion. It’s about loving our neighbors and working with the Body of Christ as a body is meant to function—every part needs every other part. Each person has a unique role to play, and the Body is crippled until each person realizes what their gifts are and aren’t and starts to bring their service into alignment with those gifts. Every person is gifted to minister in the Body of Christ.
Help us, God, to find our gifts and our place of service in your Body. Amen.
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