LentBlog 2015, Day 15: Everyone has a part.

Ephesians 2:2-13; NRSV:

But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said,

“When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive;
    he gave gifts to his people.”

(When it says, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended[a] into the lower parts of the earth?10 He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) 11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.


Thinking some more about the church as I read this portion and beyond… and I think what I’ll say won’t take too many words tonight. Simply put: everyone has a role to play in the church. The point of these roles is to make disciples to train and equip folks for Kingdom life. It’s all for the edification of the church, because the whole is what’s important, not individual promotion or something. Not everyone’s role is the same. That’s OK: God designed it that way. But that doesn’t mean someone’s role is less important because it’s different. What comes to mind is how the gears and other parts fit together in a quality timepiece. gears1Some gears are bigger than others. Some are visible at the surface. Others are hidden underneath the layers of other parts. Yet all of them… ALL. OF. THEM…. are vitally important to the functioning of the whole. Remove one of those hidden, small gears and the whole thing stops working. And there are also no parts who aren’t vital to the whole… no freeloaders or tag-alongs… each part has it’s job to do within the whole.

Something to think about….

Blessings,

Mark

Advertisements

LentBlog ’14, Day 33: On tongues speaking, community, and bad bugle playing.

1 Corinthians 14:1-19

Disclaimer: I’m not really going to go into the whole Charismatic tongues-speaking thing in this post. I find myself in agreement with my faith tradition (The Church of the Nazarene) on this one, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

What can maybe be said here is that Paul pretty much bashes the idea of some unknown prayer language as being preferable in the community. He doesn’t say it doesn’t exist, but he does reaffirm the idea that everything must discern the body. For someone to have some awesome secret prayer language (or something) does nothing for the church without considering the other.

In other words, it’s not just Jesus and Me.  Every spiritual gift involves the community, and to separate one gift out, such as tongues, and make it somehow a private thing isn’t the point. It’s about community and the edification of the church Without love– a self-less, other-considering love, this prayer language thing is like a bad bugle player.trumpet

Have you ever heard a kid trying to get a sound out of a trumpet for the first time? I have. Lots. And it isn’t pretty. And yet Paul says for a bugle to fulfill its function, there has to be a distinction between notes– not just a big, a-tonal “PPPBLHPHLPPHHH!!!!”Such a sound is chaos, and isn’t much fun to listen to. Such is the gift of languages without considering the other. It’s just a big blubbering mess without discerning the body. So it also is wit all the other gifts: they are for the edification of the Body, not the “Cheez-its and me” show.

Sensing a theme yet?

And who knew? Maybe Paul was a bit of a music guy.

Blessings,

Mark

LentBlog ’14, Day 28: ONE.

1 Corinthians 12:1-12.

So check this out. Here is tonight’s passage, with some usages of the words “same” or “one”  highlighted:

1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. 3Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says ‘Let Jesus be cursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.7To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.8To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

Get it?sum

It’s almost as if Paul wants the folks at Corinth to understand their unity in the Spirit is more important than their individual gifts.

Regardless of one’s giftedness, the same Spirit is the source. When the individual’s contributions to the community are truly in the Spirit, they fit within the diverse framework that is the Church.

What I guess I want to say here is that churches are significantly more than just haphazard groups of people who believe roughly similar stuff who happen to hang out together an hour or two per week. There’s more to it than that. The total is greater than the sum of the parts. Our gifts are diverse, thank God. We don’t all have the same role, preferences, or God-given abilities. But  the unity, health, vibrance, and ministry that can happen when we  recognize (and embody) the same Spirit working in and through is is nothing short of miraculous.

Blessings,

Mark