We expect people to express their gifts, talents, art and worship
It is essential to discover, develop and use one’s spiritual gifts.

Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt

Read 1 Corinthians 12

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.  For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.  Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.  If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.

More thoughts for meditation

It is popular today to talk about a person’s identity as something they discover in themselves or create for themselves. Psychology took the idea of “id” and made it the part of one’s psyche that is unconscious and serves as the source of instinctual impulses that demand satisfaction for primal needs. This gave an individual emphasis to an idea that had usually meant  a product of  (arachn-id) or descendant of (Seleuc-id). The word turned toward “unique” as  opposed to “similar.”  Now one’s identity is generally seen as a matter of personal reality or choice—the government gives one an “ID” and provides protection for uniqueness.

In today’s scripture, Paul’s teaching on spiritual gifts seems like a major contradiction of what amounts to common sense these days. Paul says one’s “identity” (a word he had never heard, of course) comes from one’s relationship with God and one’s role in the body of Christ. One’s old self may be coming from Freud’s “id,” but that is not all we are about. We have put on the new self, which is being renewed in the image our Creator.

We have an amazing similarity that builds us into a body now that we have been given the one Spirit to drink. Within that body our diversity is more than just respected, whether we are “Jews or Gentiles, slave or free,” our diversity is required—the body is not made up of one part but of many. Our essential unity in Christ is fundamental: we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body. Our sense of being a unique person among the other persons has to do with how the Spirit of God is at work in each of us to bring the life of Jesus into redemptive, joyful action.

That’s why we are so committed to valuing what every person brings to our life together. In the last century, “church” morphed into a product to consume or an act to watch—a personal choice or desire. But the Bible teaches that the church is a living body animated by the Spirit of God and teaches that every member is necessary and responsible. How we express our “identity” as one of God’s people is crucial to being all we are called to be and doing what we are meant to do.

Suggestions for action

Pray: Free me to drink of your Spirit and to be my valued part of your Body.

The idea of having a “spiritual gift” may be an old or new one for you. Regardless, it makes practical sense to take an inventory of what God is doing in each of us as of now. We all drink of the same Spirit so we all have the capacity to act like Jesus. But each of us has a unique role to play too, based on what the Spirit gives us to give.

In several places Paul and Peter make lists of gifts expressed in the body. We have collected them all and constructed an inventory you can take to see how you match up. The inventory is mostly a conversation starter for you and God as well as for you and the body of Christ. It is an interesting exercise to think through the aspects of different well-known gifts in the body to see in which direction you lean. Here is a link for the inventory, if you’d like to use it: [Spiritual Gifts Discernment Exercise]. Here is a link to Bible studies on the various gifts listed in the New Testament [Spiritual Gifts Bible Studies].

Whether you use the inventories and studies or not, meditate on who God has made you and what it means for you to drink from the common cup of life in the Spirit.