I grew up on potluck dinners at church. All the ladies of the church would bring a dish from home, put it on a long table and we’d just roam around the table getting a little bit of this and a little bit of that to fill our plates.
These dinners were scheduled but never organized—hence the name pot luck. Something was prepared at home, brought to church, added to whatever else was brought, and then we all made a meal out of the assorted collection. Somehow, there was always enough and always a proper variety. And it was always so good that many a horizon was broadened as a result.
Church is like that. We each are a dish prepared by God, brought together to help nourish the flock. And when that happens, much is accomplished to enlarge the Kingdom of God.
In the past, church was seen as a formal hierarchy of people and positions with a distinct separation of the bishop or priest (pastors, staff) from the people. These clergy did the spiritual work in behalf of the people. The people were simply objects of the religious
efforts. Nothing more was expected from them than their attendance and money. The church was an organization too complicated and holy for the people’s input or help.
Then we became an army. Regimented into officers and enlisted. The officers were in charge and told the enlisted what was expected. The goal was conformity. Everyone was to look the same, act the same and live the same. We were trained to fit into the box of what the officers believed it meant to be a Christian. The church became structured as an outpost of discipline. Everyone must fit in and become like the rest of us, which was a task so difficult only a few were needed to control what that looked like.
Then we turned into a school. The Principal oversaw the school and set the curriculum. Teaching was now the most important activity. Everyone must learn the same things and embrace the same practices before they can proceed through the educational process. The goal was for everyone to have the same beliefs. We must all be Calvinists or all be Armenians. All be pre-millenialists or all be Pentecostal. Whatever the main emphasis was, everyone was to be indoctrinated into that belief. The teacher was focused on everyone learning the same material. The church turned into a place focused on content and correction where everyone must have the same mindset to be right.
But when we study the Bible, we find the church is Family. We are brothers and sisters in the faith. In a family, all grow at different rates, have graduated responsibilities and expectations. We forgive mistakes, pick up the fallen, restore the broken. The goal is to help each one mature toward responsible adults who can handle life and serve the Lord faithfully. We are sensitive to help fill the gaps in understanding how to apply the truth. Loving God and each other become objectives. The church is relational. The goal isn’t indoctrination or forcing everyone into a defined box, but helping each one live as who we’ve become—Children of God.
So when Paul began the study of spiritual gifts and how the church was to operate, he started with what we have in common, regardless of where we are on the growth curve.
1Co 12:1-3 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus is accursed"; and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.
What we have in common is our commitment to the Lordship of Christ. When we believe in Him as our Savior we grow toward a greater understanding that He is Lord. Granted some may be further along in that understanding than others, but each of us realizes He is greater and we are lesser. He is Master and we are servants. He is God and we are His children.
1Jn 4:2-3 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God…
It’s what we have in common. It’s the family DNA. It’s what ties us together.
Matt 7:21 Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.
Matt 14:28-29 Peter said to Him, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." And He said, "Come!" And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
Mat 22:37 And He said to him, " 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.'
Luke 4:8 Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY.
Rom 1:1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
Rom 10:9, 13 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED."
Eph 5:8-10 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
Eph 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.
Col 2:6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
Col 3:13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.
Rom 12:10-11 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
Eph 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
What makes our works good works? They are Gods working through us to accomplish His purposes. Not what we bring to the table, but what God intends to do through us. By our works, God is glorified. How so? They indicate His goodness in us.
Matt 5:16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
To make sure it’s not just our efforts but Him working through us, whatever He expects from us, He equips us to be able to do.
We are adequate for what He’s asking us to do. When that sinks in, we realize how complete and empowered we really are.
Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant. (2 Cor 3:4)
Adequacy takes away:
· I can’t.
· I don’t know how.
· I might mess us.
· There’s someone better at this than I am.
- In a family, nobody is more important than another.
- Each person has value and contributes to the whole.
- Our church is a family.
- You are as vital to this church as anyone else.
- What you are is a gift from God to help make North Shore the church God intends us to be.
I am a gift from God.