Once upon a time I remember reading, in a humorous piece about folks from our own church heritage, that you could always tell one of us by the fact that “at evangelistic rallies we only manage to raise our hands about waist high.” There is some truth to that…I know that it certainly applies, in my case! I’ve seen some I know raise their hands above their waist and into the air and leave them there. But it’s a fact that different people have different ways of expressing their faith.
Some differences between the way people live and worship are theological…there are ways that we live and worship as Christians which, of course, have nothing to do with those of Muslims or Buddhists. Moreover other things we do here at Trinity as Christians…like celebrating Holy Communion almost every week…flow out of our understanding of the gifts of God and our own need for them. Differences between how people of this same faith community live and prefer to worship also exist. Some are cultural...we possess the customs and habits of the people who grew up where we (or our forebears) grew up. Some come from our own personal experiences…what we do—or don’t do—as people of faith may be due to a family custom, or a life experience that has forever changed us.
St. Paul reminds us that not everyone among the Corinthian Christians was cut out to live out his/her Christian faith in the very same way. The same is true for us. There is to be no elite corps within the Church. Each person who says “Jesus is Lord” has received the same Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3–4). No matter what spiritual gifts God chooses to distribute among us, no matter even the measure of the spiritual gifts God distributes as He sees fit, such gifts are not for the purpose of elevating some people over others. They are for the common good (12:7). They are for the sake of Christ.
Today I begin a three-week series on spiritual gifts. Let’s give thanks that, though the type of gift and measure of gifts with which we have been blessed may be different, the same God is at work through each and every one of us. May God open our eyes to the gifts He gives…and use us to put them to work.