Thursday 12 May 2022

 1 Corinthians 12 v.1/11

Paul is writing to the Corinthian Church having received a letter from them seeking guidance, and has come to a point where he is dealing with spiritual gifts. Corinth was a major seaport and some of the immorality of the city had entered into the Church and divisions were created. Paul hearing of the disruptive influence, wrote this Letter offering guidance as well as rebuking them.

If we are going to understand how we can relate to the teaching of this Letter, we must first understand what it meant for Paul. He founded this Church in Corinth and it had grown and prospered, but had also developed disharmony.

He begins by stating he does not want them to be confused and not understand spiritual gifts. In calling them pagans, which meant Gentiles or non-Jews, he reminds them they were worshipping idols so had been led astray, but acknowledges they have now become true believers in God.

Some of these converts were worried about people who were speaking spiritually, or what is referred to as ‘speaking in tongues’, and Paul is assuring them no one can say ‘Jesus is cursed’ if they are speaking under the influence of the Holy Spirit, but can say ‘Jesus is Lord’. If a person can truly say, and believe, Jesus is Lord they are being led by the Holy Spirit and have been born again

We have to be very discerning when people claim to be ‘born again’; some years ago, especially in the United States, there was an epidemic of people claiming, it seemed particularly fashionable for politicians.

Every Christian has some gift which can be used in the Lord’s service. It has to be acknowledged and accepted that every gift of every kind we possess has been given to us by God.

We find professional men and women who have their professional talent to use in the service of the Church and they serve well and so usefully, especially gifts of accountancy and law. But also valuable is the man or woman who can do technical work effecting repairs; or the lady gifted with flower and decorative arrangements; ladies who spend hours baking for Church fairs. I had two sisters in their 80s who worked tirelessly and I cannot imagine how we could have done without them

We may use as an analogy that of an earthly father who has a family of children who passes out presents to them, and knowing each child, will give what he knows that child would best like and use. God knows our characters and gives to meet them.

Paul likens the Church to a human body and describes it as the body of Christ. The Church is the means by which Jesus reaches out to the world; Jesus is no longer physically in the world, so it is very important that we keep this in mind. We, the members, are the Lord’s voice, hands and feet to carry out His commands.

The Bible states that we are ambassadors, and the duty of an ambassador is to represent the monarch of his/her country, and we represent the King of Kings in what is a country foreign to our standard of belief. We are also soldiers for Christ, bearing mind the world outside of the Church is a battleground not a playground.

There also different types of service, and all should bear in mind whatever service we perform, we do it for the Lord. In the New testament, when the Bible speaks of God it refers to the Father, when it states ‘Lord’ it refers to Jesus, and there is God the Holy Spirit.

Paul then writes about some of those gifts, and even beyond this passage he continues to name some. Some have a supernatural gift of wisdom from God, others just a natural gift. Some have a special endowment of faith for some mission.

Paul speaks about the gift of tongues which has long been a subject of contention, in that some charismatics claim unless a person can speak in tongues, they are not a Christian. I had a lady very distressed because someone had said that to her. This is totally unacceptable to rule any gift is particularly necessary.

Speaking in tongues can also be counter-productive. If there is such being practised in a church and some stranger walks in seeking spiritual support and heard such speaking, and there was no one present to interpret, they would wonder what was happening.

We also have to be aware that for a body to function in a healthy condition, all parts relate to each other, working in unity, and functioning as intended.

The Church is not just a group of religious people gathered together to enjoy mutually desired functions. We should be sharing the same kind of life, belonging to the one Lord, filled with His Spirit and be working together to change the world; such is what makes a true and healthy Church. Just coming to Church in itself does not necessarily make you a Christian, you have to believe in and trust Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour.

Paul emphasises the analogy of the human body to that of the body of Christ by explaining how the body functions. He stresses the importance of each part of the body working together, and indicates that every member of the Church is of importance. An ear performs one vital function, but so does an eye; the body needs both; similarly, with hands and feet. Never consider yourself as an unimportant part of the Church. You may not be called to preach or lead a Bible study group, but there are so many other equally important tasks in their own way by which you can take an active part. If everyone did the same thing the Church would be ineffective.

But a body only functions properly if it is healthy and every part is working properly. We must accept we need one another and there is no need for competition or jealousy. Occasions arise when someone feels they are not being given the recognition they feel their secular work demands, and others are doing what they should be doing. If any organ in our body fails, the whole body is affected and any disruption in the Church affects the whole situation.

So, in what way can you play your part? There are so many ways by which your gift can be exercised, possibly in a manner you have never considered. In a Church I was once at we gave everyone £5 and invited them to use their talent to increase it with the proceeds going to the Church. People found they had hidden gifts. So often gifts are seen as only relating to ministry which is so wrong and narrow an outlook. The Church is not like a bus with the Vicar being the driver and all others passengers.

.Sometime of course it may seem as your work is not appreciated when you do not get the thanks and recognition your work has merited. Do not be depressed or disheartened, if you have done it for God, He will be pleased and recognise you. When all our gifts are put together we can become a strong body able to serve the Lord as He would want.

God bless you. Be at Church on Sunday

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