Yesterday we looked at part 2 of spiritual gifts. Like a puzzle we were able to make sure that all the pieces came from the same source, found what the big picture looked like, and now all that is left is the job of putting the puzzle together. Paul uses an analogy we can all relate to (unless you are a family dog) revealing the consist theme of diversity played out through unity:
Many parts, one body! 1 Cor. 12:12-13 12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
Recall in Acts 8:18-19 we meet Simon the Sorcerer who asked Peter if he could buy this power, he wanted to have each person he touched gifted with the Holy Spirit, striving for power without purpose, and yet it is the community itself which allows the gifts to glorify the body! The two parts: Baptism and the Holy Spirit—Baptism in one sense is the Great Equalizer—all come together despite diversity into unity allowing all the division, factions, and in-fighting to be drown in the dark depths of the water and yet as we come out of the water and receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit we see the Great Magnifier—allowing the gift to shine bright, making Christ known in the world!
In fact in many ways, when we become Christians, it is like getting a pair of skates as a gift. Excited about the gift you might put them on, get onto the ice, and for hours go around and around, doing those twirls, and twists, day after day skating turning and gliding, when it is revealed to you the skates weren’t given to you so you could skate alone, but so that you could be part of the hockey team that is forming. Not to free skate, but to skate towards the championship. (Francis Chan) 1 John 4:12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. The story of our faith is radically changed through those words, no longer is it about skating alone—not “me and God” but now “us and God!” You aren’t just here to hear a sermon, you aren’t just here to see your friends, you aren’t just here to go through the motions, you are here to love one another in a way that gives others a glimpse of the unseen God! Here to contrast the way of the flesh—were we think about me, myself, and I—where we church shop, or where when we are angry we head for the exits, or when we are asked to serve we blow it off!
When we serve together, we are brought together! We are unified through sweat, through struggle, through hopes and dreams that go beyond us. In living out our gifts we find our purpose for existing as expressed by St. Ignatius of Loyola who said, “The goal of our life is to live with God forever. God, who loves us, gave us life. Our own response to love allows God’s life to flow into us without limit. All the things in this world are gifts of God, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily.”
Although our physical puzzle may never be completed as they lay on our coffee table for months or years at a time unfinished, it is the spiritual puzzle that comes together perfectly when we live out our vision—having our lives transformed through relationship with Jesus Christ—-putting God’s picture in place!