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March 15, 2015 Kingdom Kulture – Takes Community (Part 1 – Community through shared gifts)

March 15, 2015

Kingdom Kulture – Takes Community (Part 1 – Community through shared gifts)

 

 

Intro: In the children’s message, we talked about going in a particular direction.  The sermons of late have been preparing us to move together in a particular direction.  My goal is that we arrive at a place where we all see and acknowledge the giftedness of one another so that we can agree that we need each other.  And I want us to be open to the exercising of all the gifts present here, and to discover that even the ones we think are a little wanky, still have a place in the kingdom.

 

Our journey together will be an adventure!! 

 

We are not in a rush, so before we spend time looking at the different gifts and their descriptions, and try to discern what our own gifts are, I want to look at Spiritual gifts in general. Spiritual gifts are mentioned thirteen different places in the epistles – most written about by Paul.  This was one of his “things” that he saw as key to living in a kingdom culture.  He was working towards getting the church, the body of Christ, to function in its most healthy manner, which required that all members of the body use their gifts for the good of the whole.  This is an incredible congregation.  Don’t we want to be all that God desires us to be? Isn’t that what we want?  If so, then let’s listen to the wisdom of Paul and Peter the two main speakers of the early church.

 

Romans 1:11-12 (READ)

We’ve been sitting in Romans 12 for several weeks.  This is where Paul’s heart is as he began the letter.  And here we discover that one purpose of a spiritual gift is that it be used to strengthen other people in the faith.  If we see someone struggling, we are to go to them, whether we can name our gift or not, and see how we might best meet that person’s need.  If we do it through encouragement well that might point to the gift of encouragement.  If we do it by giving them funds they need to bring about all that is right, then maybe our gift is generosity.  If we are called to just be there and listen and walk with them through the hard time, maybe we have the gift of empathy.

 

It is more important to show up and do what you feel called to do than to be able to identify your gift and hoard it for just the right opportunity to unleash it on the world.  The identifying of the gift can be important, but it’s more important that you discover it by using it.

 

The other piece we discover in this verse is that the use of a spiritual gift is not necessarily a one way thing.  Paul is longing to receive from the Romans as much as he is desiring to give.  We are called not just to worship as a body but to function as a body, lifting each other up, spurring one another on, meeting one another’s needs, continually reminding one another to keep our eyes fixed on Christ.  The gifts God gives us are the tools for doing this.

 

Do you think about this on a regular basis?  When you are thinking of coming to church, how much of your thinking goes to meeting the needs of others we will encounter there?  What might change if that became part of our mission when we came to worship?  I think some of you already do this, but what might happen if we all did?

 

1 Peter 4:7-11 (READ)

Peter lays out some general and specific gifts we are to practice with each other because we are the body of Christ.  Let’s break this passage down.

 

The end of all things is near. This is the purpose for writing what follows.  Peter is reminding the church that the life we are experiencing now is temporary and will not last forever.  So he states that we are to . . .

 

. . .  be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. You think you have nothing to offer?  You can always pray.  But pay attention here, lazy folks don’t pray, but those who are alert and of sober mind.  He goes on to state a priority in our life together, as the body of Christ, the Kingdom builders and dwellers . . .

 

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Any questions?  Have you ever thought you may have wronged someone in the church family?  It might have been due to a broken promise, or a sharp answer or a misunderstanding or due to a public decision, or not showing up when someone wanted or needed you.  Have you ever felt awkward around another person in the body because of something you heard or said about them in public?  When we realize that there is a rift in any relationship, we have a choice. We can try to ignore it, or let it fester, we can confront it in our own life.  The enemy of God will use situations like this to drive a wedge in that particular relationship and even in between our relationship with God.  Peter tells us what we are to do in this situation – even when we are frustrated or hurt – we are to choose to love. To accomplish this may require that we lay down our rights.  It may mean that we admit that our expectations may have been out of sync with the reality of the other person’s life.  It may bring us face to face with the reality that we need to communicate our own needs and desires more clearly if we want someone else to meet them. 

 

Bottom line:  We will let each other down.  We will disappoint one another.  We will not always live up to one another’s expectations.  And every time that happens, we have a choice:  to hold a grudge or to love that person and allow the relationship the opportunity to heal.  Huh, sometimes love is like a Band-Aid that you place over a wound so that it can heal until true restoration of the wound has taken place.

 

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

Some people have a true spiritual gift of hospitality.  There home is always open and in their very person they are welcoming and open to all.  (Sylvia Abrams).  But this is a more general injunction.  We are all to offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

 

As often as possible I try to have our session meetings in the homes of our elders.  This verse is one of the reasons why.  There are many of you who are willing to open your homes to others.  Hey!  Want to host a session meeting?  Let us know!  How is your hospitality?  It reaches further than opening our homes, it is looking for the opportunity to make someone feel welcome, whether you meet them in a store or a restaurant or a hospital.

 

10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

Remember that it is God who gives us our spiritual gifts, according to the faith that he also gives us.  We are to use our gifts that God has given us because it is part of our worship, our honoring of God, our witness of Christ to the world. It is through employing our spiritual gifts that we meet the true needs of one another.  How we do this will look different for each individual and Peter goes on to list just a couple.

 

11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

As Peter tells it here, who is at the center of these two gifts?  It’s not the individual, it’s God himself! 

 

Concl.  Our mission, our God-calling, is to use our gifts in order to build up the body of Christ by making disciples of Jesus Christ.  This is not easy work.  Take a look around!  This is what God is working with!  You and me!  Broken people in a broken world with lives that are far from perfect.  With personality flaws and weaknesses, and still, this is how God has chosen to reveal himself to the world – through the likes of us.  Pretty amazing!  Let’s end with a little group affirmation.  Turn to someone and repeat after me: “Yep!  God is using even you!”  Turn to someone else and repeat after me: “It’s true!  I need you!” 

 

If you will receive those words from one another and do your best to live into them, the Kingdom Kulture will become deep rooted among us and we, as a body, will reflect who God is and what God is doing to the rest of the world.