My posts come from my personal daily scripture readings and a part of my personal accountability. If we are going to grow as followers of Christ, we must be in the Word! If you miss these a few days, something has kept me from it; but if they're gone for too many days, call me on the carpet. We need to hold one another accountable. I follow the readings and journaling from lifejournal.me. Join me on this journey as our lives are to Reflect the Image-and Jesus IS the image. Peace, Carla Sunberg
Monday, November 12, 2012
The Greater Gifts
Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.
(1 Corinthians 12:27 NASB)
And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets,
third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps,
administrations, various kinds of tongues.
(1 Corinthians 12:28 NASB)
All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they?
(1 Corinthians 12:29 NASB)
All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?
(1 Corinthians 12:30 NASB)
But earnestly desire the greater gifts.
(1 Corinthians 12:31 NASB)
The church in Corinth was going through a time of great difficulty
for there were those who were displaying spiritual gifts that were
creating division in the church. It was the more flamboyant gifts that
were getting the attention of the people. Suddenly there were those
through whom God was performing miracles and they were seeing a great
many people healed. There were those also who were speaking in
"tongues" and there continues to be much argument to this day over what
exactly Paul was talking about in the use of this word. Most
commentators that I read say that he meant diverse languages. In the
cosmopolitan city of Corinth, at a crossroads with much of the world,
the ability to speak in multiple languages would indeed be a gift, and
the ability to interpret carried with it power for those without the
gift were dependent upon their translators. (Believe me -- I've been
there!). Or it could have been that he was referring to those who were
practicing speaking in "unknown" tongues, or a language of angels, and
we simply cannot say for sure. However, this we do know. Those who had
the more outwardly "exciting" gifts were using them to say that they
were more spiritual than others in the church. The result was a church
which was divided and at odds with one another.
Paul decides that he has to bring some order to this chaos which the
church is experiencing in Corinth. Several times in this chapter he
refers to different people with different gifts and finally, here at the
end he lists a type of hierarchy for authority and/or structure within
the church. There end up being three groupings, if you will, regarding
the gifts and authority. He wants to make it clear that outward acts
doesn't necessarily bring with it greater authority. The first category
of leadership comes from Apostles, Prophets and Teachers. The Apostles
were those original twelve, and then the sent seventy and also included
people like Paul and Barnabas, Andronicus and Junia. Those who had
actually seen Christ and were carrying the news about him to the world.
Also included in this category were the prophets, or the preachers.
Those who had not seen Christ but were preachers and champions of the
gospel. This would include individuals like Apollos, the daughters of
Philip and others who was traveling the known world and preaching about
Christ. But even Apollos had some issues with his theology and had to
come under the authority of some teachers -- like Priscilla and Aquilla
who had to help him understand that sometimes his preaching wasn't
always right. These would all be found in the first category and Paul
was saying that while you may not be seeing charismatic gifts from these
leaders -- they are the leaders and they are the ones whom God has
placed into authority and this is their gifting. Just because they
don't have the other gifts does not mean that they are not spiritual
Next in his list came those who could do miracles and gifts of
healing. Obviously this was happening in the life of the church and God
was giving this gift to a number of individuals. This was exciting to
see that God was pouring out his Spirit and working in this way and I'm
sure that the crowds gathered around to watch those who had these
spiritual gifts. However, with the crowds would come a temptation to
believe that they were more popular and more spiritual than the ones who
were gifted with the leadership. They may have begun to take on the
leadership of the church, we don't know for sure, but we know that they
were boasting about what was happening and Paul had to respond.
The final category included helps, administrations, and various
tongues. These would have been those with the practical skills to be
helping out in the church. These are the worker bees, the ones who are
organized, the church treasurers, etc. They love to keep all the pieces
of things together and going and there are times when the prophetic
types and/or the miracle types drive them up the wall! Why? Because
the movement of the Holy Spirit is such a messy thing -- can't we get it
organized and planned out a little better!
Paul is telling them that all of these things matter to God. They
are all important in the church, but that there is a way in which God
wants it all to function in an orderly manner. But he doesn't end
there. This chapter ends by saying that this is all good, but now, he's
going to tell us about something much more excellent....
I believe that Christianity is deeply desiring a movement of God's
Holy Spirit. We realize that in many ways we are in desperate times and
that the only solution is the Lord. In our desperation we want to see
God work and move. We are looking for the flamboyant answers because
there we can really "see" God. There is nothing wrong with this. This
is how God works and he wants to work, but Paul says don't get hung up
there. There is more to the whole body of Christ. This is just one
part, and especially don't ignore the fact that God has gifted Apostles,
Prophets and Teachers. I'm afraid that within American Christianity a
chasm has been developing between the first and second categories, just
like it was in the days of Paul. The Apostles, Prophets and Teachers
should not be afraid of the ones who are able to perform miracles and
heal, while at the same time those with those gifts should not look down
on the ones with the gifts of leading, preaching and teaching. They
are all gifts and we need them all. Just as in Paul's day, these gifts
need to be drawn together and bound together for God's use in the whole
body of Christ. And the only way that they will be bound together is in
the same way that Paul explains to us in Chapter 13, the great love
chapter. The more excellent way has nothing to do with these spiritual
gifts, but with love which pours over us as a holy anointing oil which
unites us and makes us one strong body of Christ. There can be no time
for envy and strife. There can be no time to argue over who is more
spiritual than the next person. We must all unite together to pray that
God's love be poured over us and the world in a mighty revival of God's
interaction in the world today.
Lord, I pray for your love which unifies to be poured out upon your people today. Amen.