Archive for the ‘Body of Christ’ category

Spiritual Practice #9: “Care for the Needs of Others”

December 7, 2016

leastThe Old Testament reading for this morning tells the story of how Isaiah came to be called to share God’s message with the people of Israel. I sense there is a lot here about how to share God’s love with people as well.

This final week’s spiritual practice for building up the body of Christ is: “Care for the Needs of Others.” Clearly, this is one of the most obvious and necessary practices for building up the body and being a Christian community. As a pastor, I feel humbled and taught by so many of you who make this spiritual practice a priority in your lives. But as with any spiritual practice or biblical truth, there is always more to learn, isn’t there. I wonder if the Old Testament reading for today, Isaiah 6:1-13, may shed more light.

Isaiah is suddenly transported into a worship service that’s happening in the heavenly temple. There are angels or seraphs with six wings whose voices are shaking the door posts and thresholds, and the temple is filled with smoke.

Isaiah starts to think, “I’m ruined. I don’t belong here.” He becomes self-conscious about having just snapped at his wife (okay, a bit of literary license here), and bemoans the fact that he’s a man of “unclean lips,” and that he lives among a people of unclean lips. (more…)

Spiritual Practice 4: Identify and Use Your Spiritual Gifts

November 2, 2016

bodyOn Sunday, which happened to be Reformation Sunday, we talked about faith – faith as gift, as trust, as faithfulness, as risk, as obedience, as perseverance, and finally, as freedom. This week’s spiritual practice zeros in on one of the most important and specific ways we exercise faith. The apostle Paul writes:

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

So it seems that there are particular ways God assigns each of us to exercise our faith. And those ways and ministries aren’t the same for everyone.

But here’s the deal. We’re going to be hesitant to invest time and energy to explore and use our gifts in the body if we don’t have much faith in the body. There are so many things we can do with our talents and gifts and lives, and if we don’t believe that the church, the local church, is that big a deal, we’re going to understandably be cautious about directing very much of our time and talent there. Our motives for not engaging may be selfish – i.e. there are the things I want to do with my life – or they can be unselfish – i.e. I believe there are better, more efficient, more effective ways for me to make a difference in the world. (more…)