And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth… For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:14, 16-17
“The world can do almost anything as well or better than the church…You need not be a Christian to build houses, feed the hungry, or heal the sick. There is only one thing the world cannot do. It cannot offer grace.” Philip Yancey (What’s So Amazing About Grace?) quoting Gordon MacDonald
Batteries Not Included
Gift-giving can be tricky. Over my years of celebrating Christmas with family and purchasing, assembling, prepping and wrapping hundreds of gifts, I have learned some things the hard way. For example: waiting until the wee dark hours of Christmas morning to begin assembling a child’s Christmas gift…NOT A GOOD PLAN. And these lessons come at a cost, both to us and to those for whom the gifts are intended.
For at least an entire adult generation, there are three simple words that, if not heeded, represent a huge failure in Christmas gift giving: “BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED”. Yikes! Those words bring back so many bad feelings! If I don’t see them printed on the box early enough in the whole gift-giving process, they can turn the most awesome gift ever into the biggest disappointment of some child’s season.
The Church has a Gift for the World
I wonder if there is even consensus today about what gift, exactly, the church has to offer the world. It is not just food for the hungry nor shelter for the homeless nor healing for the sick. Those are all just the …
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 1 Corinthians 12:7
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10
I think the trick to understanding Spiritual Gifts is remembering their purpose…remembering for whose benefit they are intended.
Have you ever been so pleased with a gift you found for someone that you decided to get the same thing for yourself as well? Should we feel guilty about that? Do we have to tell the person that we did that, or can we just give them the gift and keep the rest of the story to ourselves? Is that deceptive? Does that break any gift-giving rules? Can we please get a ruling on this?
One of my two team members (Andrew) on last year’s South Africa trip had a birthday while we were traveling. I happened to be walking through the Waterfront at Cape Town a day or two before and saw the coolest little key chain. It was African art, a symbol for unity (it shows two crossed crocodiles). I thought it would be a perfect and simple little birthday gift for Andrew. I bought it. But I was so excited about it, I decided I wanted one for myself too! And then I decided I wanted one for Kelley too, so that our whole Unity Ministries team could have this as a memory from this trip. And, alas, Andrew’s birthday gift became a team gift for all of us! I suppose the original purpose of the gift got a little blurred in the process…Very sorry, Andrew!
I think that can happen with Spiritual Gifts as well. When the Spirit manifests Himself …
With what shall I come before the Lord
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:6-8
Father’s Day is nigh upon us…just a little less than two weeks away. It is not too early to start thinking about what (for most of us) is the most difficult gift of the whole year to find. What in the world will you give him for Father’s Day? He is so very difficult to buy for! Whenever he needs something, he just goes and gets it…what could I possibly get him that he doesn’t already have? A tie? Did I give him that last year? Did I really give him a tie last year!? How cliche is that!? I am so embarrassed.
This passage out of Micah got me thinking about God and what He really wants from His church (from His bride) and what we could possibly give Him, and I wondered…What do you give the God Who has everything?
Some would answer we should give Him our very best gathered worship…excellence in music, in preaching, in communion, in corporate prayer…that we should give Him a truly amazing gathered worship expression week after week. They might cite Psalm 22:3 (our God inhabits praise).
Others would answer the church should give Him our broken Spirits and contrite hearts…that what …