Sunday, February 7, 2010

HOME: (how do you spell relief?)

When the time is right, the path opens up. I'm back home, studying and thinking about the way God works in his Church. One of my highest values from growing up in a family of "can do"-ers is egalitarianism. We define this value as the Body of Christ in action: each gift is used to benefit the whole, without regarding one person above the other. A few of the gifts I'm examining as part of my current study of missionary wives are below:

People with gifts of mercy and service often occupy the lowest tier of hierarchies, but they are foundational components of love and action in every community. "Worker bees" run the planet, whether or not they are self-motivated or innovators. Mercy-givers care for the hurting, nurture the wounded, and give encouragement to the weak and strong alike.

Pastors love people, study them, and serve them. Teachers are fascinated by their subjects of interest - they learn and explore before passing on their excitement. Many of them pursue wide-ranging studies, accumulating information from many sources.

Prophets who understand the direction God is moving may be the least popular. One pastor, in a sermon series on spiritual gifts laughingly said, "Those are the ones we avoid, banished to the corner of the room shouting, 'Hey, everyone! Can't you see what God is doing? How much more obvious could it be?'"

Givers connect the flow of God's abundance to the needs of the Church. Whether they have much or little, they are a conduit for resources, "stuff," and money. Faithful givers can be trusted to accept God's provisions without greed or favoritism for where God directs it.

Administration is another gift of the Spirit, no less valuable than others. Functioning as intended, sound administration pulls a group together for a common purpose and creates systems where the lowest positions can serve the whole Body with the same honor as the highest. Unhealthy administration supports hierarchy and status at the expense of good ideas and blocks people "without rank." Power unchecked strangles the lively flow, so dysfunctional and crippled organisms evolve.

Home as my own boss, I'm strategizing how best to utilize the hours for the tasks ahead. How will I stay connected to the Body and remain part of the flux of gifted relationships? Without input from frank friends and prophets, it would be easy to cobble together a life that is unbalanced or one-sided. I do have spiritual giants and mature companions whom I entrust with my journey. I'll be visiting you over a cup of tea soon!

Read more:
*For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:3-10 NIV

*Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him... The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business. James 1: 2-5, 9-11 NIV

*My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. James 2:1-10 NIV

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