Spirit bestowing gifts

The first churches upturned the social apple cart in so many ways. Not least in completely restructuring who could lead, serve and get involved. Instead of an elite holding all the power and privilege because they belonged to the right family, in these emerging Jesus-centred communities those who got stuck in and served their brothers and sisters in sacrificial love shaped the church.

It was the Spirit’s gifts, given to all sorts of folks and channelled into action which grew the church and made these groups of diverse believers cohesive communities where God was at work. It was not a top-notch organisation nor top-down command and control that formed who they were, but the Spirit bestowing gifts. As new testament scholar Scott McKnight, commenting on Romans 12:3-8 puts it:

“the gifts are what happens when the Spirit of God takes the sacrifice of an embodied Christian and uses it for the good of the body of Christ”

What was true then remains true today. The church is a body animated by the Holy Spirit which functions when we, its body parts, are connected and contributing. Gifts are not our personal possession, nor trophies of spiritual achievement nor toys to play around with but God’s tools for the job of building up the body.

Unlike Wimbledon or the Euros where a handful of players are watched by millions of spectators in the body of Christ, everyone gets to play.

Finding God’s assignment

So how do I know what gift or gifts I have to contribute? One way to think about this is to think about what God has assigned for us to do in the body of Christ.

Here’s a couple of questions to get us started:

• How do you work out what task God has assigned to you to contribute to the building up of his church and the extension of his kingdom?

• How do we together coordinate all these gifts and contributions so that we function in harmony, not competition?

I believe God confers his gifts upon us when we get stuck in by faith and then find that we need the tools for the job and seek his help.

What are you are passionate about?

As we serve, asking the following three questions can help us find out what is God’s assignment.

What do I find frustrating?

What do I find fulfilling?

What do I find fruitful?

This points to what we are passionate about and what God is using productively in our lives. Why not take some time to pray and ask God what your assignment is and check it out with some trusted friends who know you well.