Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6
There is a lesson I wonder if I will ever learn. God tries to teach me over and over again and the classrooms he uses are funerals. That’s right, funerals. I go to a lot of funerals (I never really want to but I am always glad I did.) Invariably as I sit there and listen God scrapes a shallow part of my soul a little deeper. Invariably he confronts me with the infinite measure of his creativity as the memories shared in the course of a funeral bring to light the tiny but spectacular sample of it captured in one person’s life. It never fails, I always think “I wish I knew them better.” And it never fails, I am dejected by the truth that I could have.
Too much of the time I choose to take relationships that belong to God and behave like they belong to me. When I do that I am not looking for the wonder of God woven through a person’s personality, experiences, and gifts – I am only looking for how that person can facilitate my agenda or inhibit it, or, at how they can serve me or if I’ll have to be inconvenienced to serve them. When I choose to let my personal agenda prevail other people have no chance to be known by me, only used or ignored. So, I am often confronted with my sinful self-centeredness at funerals when I get a point blank shot of a fascinating and complex character of a human being I could have known but was too busy to meet. It is one thing God uses to remind me how deeply dependent I am on his grace. But I am not giving up.
I love 1 Corinthians 12 because it adds to my conviction and challenges me to take time to look at each person God providentially brings my way. It commands me to see his unique creation - his Spirit empowered wonder, one variety of servant determined and directed by his Spirit. You can’t miss in this text that Father, Son, and Spirit are all referenced as overseeing and empowering his gifts in everyone who know Jesus as Savior.
1 Corinthians 12 is written so I would remember these things about you, and you about me. This text is given to us so that we would appreciate and respect, and even marvel at each other. It is given to us remind us to take time to ask, listen, share, serve, and give thanks for each other.