Message: Strengths and Weaknesses: A New View
Scripture Text: 1 Corinthians 12:27-31
1. God Question: Do Christians have weaknesses?
2. To find out, let’s walk through a chunk of 1Corinthians chap. 12.
a. Read 1 Cor 12:12-31a – slide below starts the verses
b. A Spiritual Gift is that special ability that is brought to life in you by the Holy Spirit, for a specific purpose, namely, “for God’s glory/delight and his work in the world.”
i. It seems that Paul wants to say that because ALL followers of Christ receive at least one Spiritual Gift, there are no weaknesses for Christians.
c. But then he talks about how some are ‘weaker,’ ‘less honorable,’ ‘unpresented’
i. In v.28 he ranks gifts from 1st to 3rd.
ii. And then says something about ‘greater gifts’ in v.31s.
iii. The Corinthian Church was getting this letter because some Snobby, self-righteous Christians were going around saying their spiritual abilities were more awesome than others’ because they used them in worship and they made great show. Like speaking in tongues.
d. Paul’s response is that all people are gifted and all gifts are used by God to do important things
i. He wants to respond to snobby Christians by elevating gifts they thought weren’t as important as the ability to speak in tongues – thus the ‘rankings’ and ‘weaker’ gifts actually being greater and more desirable.
e. There are no weaknesses for Christians when it comes to spiritual ability.
f. There are weaknesses when it comes to how Christians and churches often let things which stand in the way of using their gifts and helping other Christians use theirs.
3. Visit a Christian church long enough and you’ll hear about volunteering.
a. The truth is that Churches have jobs which need people to fill them. They get the people into the jobs by recruiting them.
i. A common tactic: voluntold. It’s being asked to perform a task without any real option to decline.
1. Also: nominteered. Involunteered, pro–bonofessional, discombobligated, Katnissed (for the Hunter Games fans out there).
ii. The problem with most churches’ methods of volunteering people is that the churches don’t ask about or help people to find their spiritual gifts and Christians don’t know or insist on only taking on tasks which use their gifts.
b. There are many important tasks in church: greeting people, offering music, leadership, offering care and prayer, teaching children, you and adults to name only a few.
i. But the tasks exist to be matched with the spiritual resumes of gifted people, not vice versa.
ii. Gifted people come before jobs, even if they’ve been used in the church for centuries.
c. The church also needs to create lots of maneuvering space for any kind of abilities the church hasn’t seen before to be quickly matched with a new task.
i. Churches should constantly be creating new ministries- visible and behind the scenes, at church in mission to community.
ii. And Christians who don’t see an opportunity to use their gifts should insist on creating an opportunity rather than settle for something else.
d. How can 1stPres be a strong church of gifted people in a time of church celebrities, big church staffs, when 20% super-volunteers take up 80% of the work for themselves, and some volunteers think their church job is theirs for life.
4. Gifts are weaknesses when they are sidelined. When Christians never bother to know theirs; when they know them, but never use them; when they use them to become Superior Snobby Christians.
a. Gifts are strengths, and at God’s full potential, when they bring out the giftedness of others.
i. Benjamin Disraeli said, “The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but reveal to him his own.”
ii. An Ethiopian Proverb adds, When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.
b. Jesus once taught a parable which since has been called the Parable of the Talents
i. Read Matthew 25:14-29 – with reading beginning with…
ii. Jesus is saying that it’s not just having a gift of the Spirit, but investing it in others so that it multiplies beyond the borders of yourself.
5. So here’s your assignment:
a. If you haven’t yet, identify the 1-2 spiritual abilities which are most you. Write them down and carry them with you.
b. Imagine what you’d be doing in 1stPres’ mission if you were using that ability to bring out the giftedness of others.
c. Here’s an Opportunities List to guide you, but that’s just what’s happening now.
i. If you don’t see yourself in it, think outside the box and talk to me, let’s create something new!
d. Imagine if we all did this, and started to use our abilities for each other!