As followers of Jesus, we’ve been entrusted with an incredible calling: to live on mission with Jesus, extending God’s influence into every nook and cranny of our world. That’s exciting, but it’s also intimidating. It’s easy to feel like we don’t have what it takes to pull it off. But we do. You do. God has equipped you – and all the followers of Jesus together – with powerful, world-changing gifts. Join us as we learn together how to be the world-changers God has equipTed us to be.
1 Corinthians 12:1-3
God has gifted each member of His church so that we are equipped to be on mission with Jesus. We exist as a church to help people become like Jesus and join him on mission…and in this series we’re going to explore what God says about how he has gifted and equipped us…equipted us…to be on mission with Jesus.
Craig: Well, welcome to all of our locations. So glad you’re with us. We’re launching a new series today called Equipted and just in case you’re wondering, no, that’s not a mistake. We did that on purpose. We had a bunch of people call this week and say, ”Hey, I hate to be the ones to tell you this, but, well, you guys goofed actually. You misspelled the word equipped.” We didn’t actually. I’m not saying we’re like above the possibility of making serious grammatical or typographical errors. It happens. Just a couple of weeks ago we did a baby dedication service and we kind of had a perfect storm honestly because we had a lot when people come in than we expected. And so we had to move in at the last minute to a bigger auditorium here on the Littleton campus. And when we did that, our tech people had to like scramble to get everything. And so we had one poor tech guy. He was like typing frantically to get all the slides in.
I was trying to help out. So this is all on me too. I was watching over his shoulder because I knew he was moving fast and he might easily make mistakes. And I allowed one to slip through, which meant that at a certain key point in the service, we as missionaries were thanking all the parents and the grandparents and all the families. And so we put up this big slide that said, hey, basically, thank you for allowing us to join you in your journey of tasing your children. Yeah, so it happens. We’re certainly not above making those kinds of mistakes, but this is not one of them. Okay. This is not one of them. We actually did intend to call this the Equipted Series.
And the reason is pretty simple. When God laid this series on my heart almost a year ago, I put it in the working title. I called it Equipped/gifted, figuring we’d either settle on one or the others or the worship team…the creative team had come up with another way to talk about it. But the way that we kept talking about our planning team, every time we talked about it, people kind of scanned those two words equipped/gifted and smooshed them together. They’d say, so for the Equipted Series, I mean, I’m sorry. I mean the equipped or the gifted or the equipted…what? What is it? Everybody kind of wanted to just say equipted. It’s just the way it came out. And I’m not saying the Holy Spirit led us to this, but maybe he did. We just decided to push it and we’re gonna call it the Equipted Series because it reminds us of two very important truths, which is this. If you’ve said yes to Jesus, if you put your faith in Jesus, God has given you new gifts to equip you for your new mission. Do you understand that? If you’ve said yes to Jesus, then God has given you new gifts for your new mission. Because when we say yes to Jesus, we don’t just get forgiven of our sin. I mean, that’s amazing enough by itself. When we say yes to Jesus, we don’t just get adopted into the family of God. That’s amazing enough. But when we say yes to Jesus, we also get invited into a new mission with him. We get invited to participate in the mission that Jesus himself had and that he calls us to, of extending God’s influence into the world. And that’s exciting, but it can be a little bit as well. We might feel like, who am I to be on a mission with Jesus? How could I possibly have what it takes to really be doing that in the world? And on our own, we wouldn’t, but when you said yes to Jesus, God gave you new gifts to equip you for this new mission. Okay?
And so we’re gonna be talking about in this series. We’re gonna be talking about all kinds of gifts, but in particular, we’re gonna spend a lot of time talking about something we call spiritual gifts. How many of you have heard about spiritual gifts? It’s totally okay if you haven’t, we’re gonna get you caught up real quick. But even those of you who have heard about spiritual gifts, let me ask you this. How many of you are not quite exactly sure what a spiritual gift is? Can we be honest? Yeah. Some hands there. How about this? How many of you would say, I know exactly what my spiritual gift is? How many of you are like, I do not know what my spiritual gift is? Okay, got questions there. How many of you would say, I’m not even sure how to go about figuring out my spiritual gifts? I’m not even sure how to know what it is. How many of you would say, I don’t know how to know my spiritual gift? A lot of questions.
We’re gonna deal with all those questions in this series. And so whether you come from a background where you’ve heard a lot about spiritual gifts or this is a brand new concept to you, we’re gonna unpack the answers to those questions. Why don’t you go ahead and grab your Bible and start making your way to the book of 1 Corinthians. We’re gonna be in chapter 12 but the key idea is this, God has equip-ted you, God has equipted you for mission, okay. That’s the key idea we’re gonna explore. So, why don’t we just do this? Why don’t you look at somebody next to you and say, God has equipted you for mission?
So the question is how? What kinds of gifts has he given? What does it look to use those gifts for the purpose that he’s called us to? And that’s what we’re gonna explore. Now, let me just say this, the very kinds of spiritual gifts, if you’re familiar with and you may not be, and again, that’s totally fine, we’ll catch up. But if you’re familiar with the concept of spiritual gifts, the concept may actually have some baggage for you. And you may have come from an environment that really emphasized spiritual gifts, maybe even over emphasized certain gifts and made you feel like maybe you weren’t quite as good a Christian because you didn’t have a certain spiritual gifts or maybe you came from an environment that was just really skeptical about spiritual gifts in general. And so if you felt like you had a spiritual gift, maybe you kind of were feeling a little bit sort of out in the wings and ostracized because of a spiritual gift God had given you. And so the content of spiritual gifts can actually create a lot of anxiety for people depending on the background they’re coming from.
So let me let you know, here’s how we’re gonna go at this. At Mission Hills, we’re a Bible-driven church. And to be a Bible-driven church means that we don’t figure out what we think and then slap a Bible verse on it to justify what we think. And we don’t have experiences that dictate what we think that we put a Bible verse on top of. But we’re compelled by the powerful truth of God’s Word. That’s what it means to be Bible-driven. We’re compelled by the powerful truth of God’s Word, and, so we go to Scripture to figure out what to think and how to think. Scripture, it shapes and it drives our thinking.
And so what we’re gonna do in this series is we’re gonna work verse by verse through a section of the book of 1 Corinthians that pushes into the topic of spiritual gifts in-depth. There’s other passages that we could go to in the Bible that talk about spiritual gifts, but none of them deal with it in as much depth as
1 Corinthians: 12-14. So we’re gonna work through that verse by verse. And Paul starts us off with a foundational truth about spiritual gifts. He says this. ”Now, about the gifts of the spirit,” about the gifts of the spirit or we could also translate, now, about spiritual gifts, which tells us immediately the spiritual gifts come from who? Came from the Spirit. They come from the Holy Spirit. What that means is that a spiritual gift comes to us by the Holy Spirit. We don’t learn it over time. It’s not built into us when we’re born, okay? It’s something that came into us the moment the Holy Spirit came into us. That’s what we mean by spiritual gifts. They’re empowered by the Holy Spirit. Apart from the Holy Spirit working in our lives, we wouldn’t have this ability. We wouldn’t have this gift. Spiritual gift comes from the Holy Spirit.
Now, that’s not the only kind of gifts we have. I think it’s really important that we understand that God actually gives us three different kinds of gifts. Everybody listening to this has three different kinds of gifts that God gave you so that you could be on mission with him. We can talk about natural gifts, we can talk about learned gifts, and we can talk about spiritual gifts. We’re gonna be talking a lot in this series about spiritual gifts, but I think it’s important that we understand that we all have natural gifts and learned gifts as well. Natural gifts are abilities that we have that we are born with. Natural gifts are abilities that we have, that we’re born with. Some people are just born with the ability to do certain things. I’m not talking about like babies who can play the grand piano or those kinds of things, but I mean sometimes people are just born with an ability to do music and it develops over time, but that core gift was in them from the moment they were born. Some people have the gift of languages. They’ve been really good with languages from the moment that they were born. Some people were born with the gift of patience. Maybe, maybe, it could happen. Anybody have like incredibly patient children? No, okay, well, I could be wrong about this one then. Maybe we’re not born. But the point is that a natural gift is something that we kind of were formed in the womb with. As God knitted us together in our mother’s wombs, he gave a certain kind of abilities that we realize over time, but they’re kind of baked into us from the beginning. Those are natural gifts.
We also have learned to gifts. Learned gifts are abilities that we develop over time and through experience. They are things that we learn how to do because of experiences that God allows us to go through. We’re not born with these abilities, but because of experiences we’ve had and over time, we learn to be able to do things we couldn’t have done otherwise. I had an opportunity just this past week to meet with two different Christians that were struggling to sort of see eye to eye on something significant to both of them. They’re kind of missing each other and there was misunderstanding. They thought the other one was seeing something, and saying something, and feeling something very different and it was kind of creating an issue.
And so I had the opportunity to kind of mediate that and try to draw them a little closer together. And one of the things that became clear as I talked to them was, part of the problem was it was a clash of cultures. They were looking at the same issue through two very different lenses. One of them was Asian and the other was Anglo. And what I realized was that God had gifted me, through experience, to be able to speak in that situation because I grew up in Asia, and so I kind of got the Asian cultural view. But of course, I am Anglo. I mean, look at me, right? Like, there’s no question that I am Anglo, right? But what I was able to do is I have to go, hey, because I was raised in Asia, I sort of understand that, you know, here’s what’s happening from the Asian perspective. But because I’m Anglo, I was able to go to the Asian, here’s what’s happening from the Anglo perspective. And that helped them to make some steps towards each other and reconciliation. And God allowed me to do that. It was a gift that God gave me, but I wasn’t born with that. It was an experience that I had that gave me the ability to speak into that particular situation. So those are learned gifts and we all have those kinds of things.
And then of course, we have spiritual gifts. Paul is gonna be talking a lot about spiritual gifts in this section, but spiritual gifts are abilities that came into our lives when the Holy Spirit came into our lives, right? We weren’t born with them. We were born again with them. You can say it that way. We didn’t learn them over time. They were abilities that were brought into us, implanted within us, that came to us when the Holy Spirit came into our lives. And of course, that immediately raised the question, well, when does that happen? When does the Holy Spirit come into us? When do we get these spiritual gifts as believers? And I just wanna acknowledge that there’s some division in the Christian Church on this particular subject. Some Christians believe the Holy Spirit comes fully into our lives the moment we say yes to Jesus. The moment that we say yes to what Jesus did on the cross and we put our trust in him, the Holy Spirit comes into our lives and is fully there in all of his power to begin changing us from the inside out and giving us access to these abilities that we wouldn’t have apart from his presence in our lives.
So some Christians believe that that happened from the very moment we said yes to Jesus. But there’s another side of the spectrum and that is there are some churches that teach that the Holy Spirit applies forgiveness when you say yes to Jesus. And so you’re forgiven, and you’re free, and you’re destined for heaven at that moment, but the power of the Holy Spirit doesn’t fully come into your life until some secondary experience. At some point after your trusting in Jesus moment, the Holy Spirit comes into you through what they call the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, but it comes later.
And what I wanna say, no matter which background you come from, is that I believe that we’re all brothers and sisters in Christ on this issue. That whether you believe the Holy Spirit came fully into your life the moment you said yes or that he comes in fully at some other moment, we’re all still followers of Jesus, okay? We’re all still brothers and sisters in Christ. But I also wanna be honest that where I believe based on Scripture and what the leadership of Mission Hills believes is on that first side, we believe the Holy Spirit is fully present in our lives the moment we say yes to Jesus. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are present in our lives the moment we say yes to Jesus.
Now, there may be moments as we go along where we have a more powerful experience with the Holy Spirit or we’re yielding ourselves to be completely filled by the Holy Spirit. And that’s an ongoing process. Since we have may have different experiences over time, but the power of the Holy Spirit is present with us the moment we say yes to Jesus. So the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, which can be called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit according to Scripture, the moment that we say yes to faith in Jesus. So if you are a follower of Jesus, if you’ve said yes to Jesus, the Holy Spirit is fully present in your life. The power of the Holy Spirit is fully present in your life, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are present in your life, just waiting for you to use them, okay?
But we have three gifts. We have natural gifts, we have learned gifts, and we have spiritual gifts. Here’s what I wanna say before we get into the spiritual gifts business that Paul’s gonna really focus on. I wanna make sure that we understand that all the gifts have some similar truths that apply to them, whether we’re talking natural or learned or spiritual, here’s what I want you to understand. Number one, every good gift is from your good Father. Every good gift is from our good Father, whether it’s natural or learned or spiritual gifts, they’re all from the same source. They’re all from God. This is what James says. He says, ”Every good and perfect gift comes from above. It comes down from the Father of Heavenly Lights.” So every gift, natural, learned, spiritual, they’re all from God. And there’s a reason why God has given these gifts. Natural, learned, spiritual, every gift that’s given from our good Father is given for good purpose. Every good gift has a good purpose.
God doesn’t give gifts at random. He doesn’t go, well, I don’t know, try this. In other words, God does not give gifts to us the way that men give gifts to their wives, right? Let’s be honest, we’re not good at it, guys. In around Christmas time, you’re gonna see guys wandering through the mall going, I’ll try that. How about this? Because we’re not quite sure. We’re not good at it, but that’s not our God, okay? Our God doesn’t give random gifts. Our God gives gifts that are very specifically tailored for the part you’re to play in his mission. Do hear me on that? God gives gifts for the specific part that you’re to play in his mission. And so he gives you gifts to enable you to play the part that he’s custom designed for you to be on mission. He’s equipted you for mission and the gifts are what allow you to do that.
Now, by the way, that means something I think very significant. This is kind of a bonus. You want a bonus today? Here’s your bonus. Understanding what God is providing often points to where God is guiding. I get this question all the time. It’s probably the most common question that I get asked. What’s God’s will for my life? What is God leading me to? What does God want me to do? What’s my part to play in the mission? Like, I understand, I’m called to be on mission, I’m called to become like him and join him on mission, but, well, what part do I play? Exactly how do I do that? How do I extend God’s influence? What’s my unique part or what’s God’s will for my life? And I get that question from every season of life.
You know, right around now when we’re doing graduation time, I have all kinds of high school people wanna say, ”Hey, what is God’s will for my life?” College graduates are asking, “What’s God’s will for my life?” But I’ve had 89-year-olds ask me that question, what’s God’s will for this season of my life? And what I’ve discovered is that easiest way to begin to understand where God is guiding is to ask the question, what is he providing? Because God gives gifts that are tailored to the part that he’s called us. Imagine that you’re a soldier and your commanding officer calls you up and says, ”Hey, I’m sending you on a mission.” You’re like, ”Okay, great, where is it?” ”Oh, you’ll figure it out,” because that’s kind of where we are, right? God doesn’t usually set things on fire and then speak out of them. We know we’re called to be on mission but he hasn’t necessarily told us exactly what that mission is. But see, if you’re being sitting off on a mission and the CO said, you know, you’ll figure it out. We’re gonna send you some equipment, pay attention to the equipment, that equipment would give you some pretty good insights, wouldn’t it? I mean, if you unboxed the first thing of equipment and you found that you were being given sandals, you’re probably not being sent to Antarctica, right? If you opened the box and you’re getting a down parka, probably not being sent to the Middle East, right? The equipment that you’re receiving is giving you some insights into the particular place where you are to be on mission. And so in the same way, paying attention to what God is providing often gives us insight into where God is guiding.
So if you wonder what’s my part to play, here’s what you do. I’m gonna give you some homework. Now, most of you are not gonna do this homework, but a special few among you are gonna do this. And the special few who do this are gonna find that this series is that much more powerful in your life. If you do this, you’re gonna find that God speaks to you very specifically throughout this series in a very powerful way. So I wanna encourage everybody to do this homework. Here’s what you’re gonna do. You’re gonna ask yourself this question. What gifts has God given me? Natural, learned, and spiritual. What gifts has God given me? And then what do those tell me about my part in his mission?
So here’s what you’re gonna do. You’re gonna go home, so set some time this week. Get a piece of paper and make three columns. At the top of the first column, you’re gonna put natural gifts. Top of the second column, you’re gonna put learned gifts. Top of the third column, you’re gonna spiritual gifts. And then you’re gonna fill in those columns. You’re gonna spend some time reflecting, ask the Holy Spirit to lead you. And say, you know, what has God given me as a gift that I was kind of born with, a natural innate ability? And you’re gonna write those down in that first column. Second column, you’re gonna think through your experiences and what God’s taught you to do over time and through experience and you’re gonna list down those learned gifts.
Now, if you know what’s your spiritual gift is, some of you said you do, great. You put that in that column. If you’re not, that’s okay, don’t worry about it. Because oftentimes, even those natural and those learned gifts begin to really point us and then you’re gonna step back from that list, you’re gonna go, “God, what does this tell me about where you’re guiding me? What does this tell me about the particular part that I’m called to play in your mission?” And if you do that, you’re gonna find that the rest of this series really pushes you further and further into being on mission with Jesus. So I wanna encourage you to do that.
Paul’s speaking here primarily about spiritual gifts, but a lot of what he says applies to all gifts. Some of what he’s gonna tell us though, is unique to this third category. Here’s what he says ”Now, about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed,” which is Paul’s way of basic… Well, actually it’s not Paul, it’s the New International Version. They’re cleaning Paul up just a little bit. They’re making it really polite and kind. What Paul literally said was, I don’t want you to be ignorant, which is insulting, right? He says, I don’t want you to be… About spiritual gifts, I don’t want you to be ignorant. And there’s two reasons for that.
Two things that happen when we’re ignorant about spiritual gifts. Number one, ignorance about spiritual gifts leads us to ignore them. You hear me, church? Being ignorant about spiritual gifts leads us to ignore them. If we don’t know what they are, if we don’t know how they function, if we don’t know what ours are, then we’re not gonna look to them to accomplish the mission that God has called us to. And it means we’re gonna be engaging in mission without the tools that he specifically provided to enable us to accomplish it effectively for his glory. I mean, imagine somebody tells you, “Hey, I want you to go dig a hole.” And they hand you a shovel, but you don’t know what a shovel is. And we’re also gonna imagine for the purpose of this illustration, you’re not that bright. They give it to you and you don’t know what it is or how to use it, so you start with the handle end and you’re like, “Well, this is stupid. I’m not getting anything done.” So what are you gonna do, you’re gonna set it aside and you’re gonna go to digging it with your hands, right? And you’re not gonna be nearly as effective because you don’t understand the tool that you were given. And in the same way, being ignorant about spiritual gifts can lead us to ignore them, which means that we are not as effective in the mission that God’s called us to as we could be. And that’s no good. So Paul says, I don’t want you to be ignorant about spiritual gifts.
Now, there’s another way that ignorance about spiritual gifts causes a problem. And here’s how I’d say it. Ignorance about spiritual gifts can ignite conflict in the Church. Ignorance about spiritual gifts can ignite conflict in Church. People who don’t understand what spiritual gifts are, can get kind of weirded out when people are practicing their spiritual gifts or people start using spiritual gifts as a way of elevating their superiority. Well, I’m more spiritual than you because I have this gift and, you know, I understand what it is and you don’t. And all kinds of things can begin to happen because we don’t understand spiritual gifts. It happens around the world. It happens in this country. It’s happening in our community right now. Churches are being divided because of what I would call ignorance over spiritual gifts.
So ignorance about spiritual gifts can ignite conflict and division in the Church, which is ironic because that’s the exact opposite of what spiritual gifts are intended to do. Spiritual gifts are intended to multiply the mission of the Church. Spiritual gifts are intended to help us do what God’s called us to do. And here’s what we’re gonna see time and time again in this series. The way that we think about spiritual gifts either divides the Church or multiplies its mission. The way we think about spiritual gifts either divides the Church or multiplies its mission. And so there’s a lot at stake here and Paul says, ”I don’t want you to be ignorant about spiritual gifts.” He says this, ”You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other, you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.” And it feels like an abrupt shift. But if we break it down, I think it’ll make sense. He says, I want you to know that when you were pagans, in other words, before you had a relationship with Jesus, before you said yes to Jesus, before you had faith in Jesus. He says, before that was true, you were somehow or other, and that’s such an interesting phrase. Well, what he’s saying is basically, there was some force at work. You couldn’t necessarily put your finger on it. You couldn’t point to exactly what it was, but there was some forced at work, some way that it was influencing you and it was doing something. It was leading you astray to mute idols. And that’s such an interesting phrase, to mute idols.
There’s some irony in what he’s saying because he’s talking about idol worship. I don’t mean idol worship the way we often talk about it in the modern world. We wanna say things like, well, you know, anything that you are giving worship to or giving your time and energy and attention to besides God, that’s an idol. And that’s true on some level, but Paul’s talking about literal idols here, actual stone, or wood, or metal statues that represented spirits. And they worshiped not the idols, they worshiped the spirits that they thought were associated with those idols. And Paul calls them here mute idols. And the irony is, he’s saying, well, of course, they’re mute. They’re chunks of wood, or stone, or metal. They don’t have the power of speech. But he’s just said somehow or other, there was power leading you to these things.
There’s more going on here than just chunks of wood and stone. But there’s a spiritual force at work here. And really what Paul is doing is he’s building on something he said a little bit earlier in the Book of Corinthians, if you wanna look there with me, it’s 1Corinthians 10. 1 Corinthians 10:19, he said this. He said, ”Do I mean then that an idol or that food sacrificed to an idol is anything or that an idol is anything? Am I saying that those chunks of wood and stone, am I saying that they’re gods or goddesses?” ”No, of course not. ”He says, verse 20, ”No, but,” and this is so important, church, “But the sacrifices of pagans that were offered to idols are actually offered to,” what’s that word? Demons. He says, there’s a real spiritual force. There are real spiritual creatures associated with his idols. The sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.
Here in Chapter 12 when he talks about somehow or other you were influenced and led astray. He’s saying, the idols themselves might be mute, but there are spiritual powers associated with those things. There are spiritual forces associated with those things. And before you were followers of Jesus, you had experience with them. He says, you know what this was like. And to really understand what Paul is saying, we’re gonna have to get just a little bit uncomfortable. Are we comfortable with getting uncomfortable, church? Yeah? What had happened before they came to Jesus when they were worshiping idols is what happened a lot in the ancient world. In fact, it happens in the modern world when idol worship is happening, that is when people are worshiping idols, weird things happen, strange things happen, supernatural things happen. People go into ecstatic trances or frenzies and they speak in strange languages or strange voices. They have information they shouldn’t have and they’re giving prophecies and all kinds of things that are going on.
And this is so important to understand. Paul’s not saying they were faking it. He is not saying the people worshiping idols are making it up or inventing it themselves. But what Paul told us is they are spiritual forces, they are supernatural forces causing these things, but those supernatural forces are what, they’re demons, but they’re real spiritual forces. It’s not all faking, real spiritual forces are at play in the worship of idols. And he says, and you knew that. You were familiar with that. You experienced it yourselves.
And now here’s where it’s gonna get really uncomfortable. You’re ready? Some very similar kinds of things were happening at the church in Corinth. In Christian worship services, people were speaking in strange tongues. People were delivering prophecies. People were going into ecstatic frenzies. People were delivering messages to others that seemed to involve information that they shouldn’t have access to, words of knowledge and wisdom, all things Paul’s gonna talk about. But of course, the church in Corinth said, but it’s not demons, it’s the Holy Spirit doing it. It’s the power of God moving through us. What’s uncomfortable for some people, I think is that Paul never says they’re wrong. He never says the Holy Spirit doesn’t do that. He never says God would never do that. But he says, understand this guys, you had similar experiences outside the church and that was demons. Now you’re having some experiences sort of like that inside the church and you’re saying it’s the Holy Spirit and that might be true, but you gotta remember this, never forget this, the Holy Spirit is not the only source of supernatural phenomenon. The Holy Spirit’s not the only source of supernatural phenomenon.
The devil counterfeits that outside the church. He’s not that creative. Do you understand that about the devil? He’s not that creative. He didn’t come up with his own ideas. He takes God’s ideas and he twists them and he tries to imitate them. Says, yeah, it’s not all that surprising you’d see that kind of stuff outside the church because the devil’s an imitator, but just because you see it inside the church doesn’t necessarily mean it’s from God because the Holy Spirit’s not the only source of supernatural phenomenon. So what do we need? We need a way to tell the difference, right? We need a way to seek the source. That’s what Paul’s getting at here. We need a way to seek the source. We need a way to tell whether something is God or whether it’s not. And not even just for supernatural things. Because you know what? There’s so many things that claim to be able to speak into our lives, right? There’s so many things that claim to be able to tell us, this is what you should do. This is how you should live your life. This is what you should devote yourself to. This is the mission you should be on. This is the part you should play. There’s so many different voices and some of the voices claim this is from God.
How do we know if it really is? It’s not just how we evaluate supernatural phenomena, it’s how we evaluate every voice that claims to be able to speak authoritatively into our lives. How do we seek the source? We need a way to seek the source. So how do we do it? This is what Paul says. 1 Corinthians 12:3. ”Therefore, I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says Jesus be cursed. And no one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” That’s where he says is the criteria. That’s the way that we seek the source. He says, these are the two things, these are the things you look for. He says, no one, one side of it, no one speaking by the Spirit of God says Jesus, be cursed.
Now, understand, he’s not just talking about saying the words out loud, okay, because you understand, I just said the words out loud. The Spirit of God does live in me. So people are perfectly capable of saying those words. Even demons can say the words Jesus is Lord. He’s not just talking about saying the words, he’s talking about the trajectory that they set us on. He’s talking about the path that those words put us on. He says, nobody’s speaking by the Spirit of God can cause you or tell you or lead you to live in such a way that takes glory, and honor, and authority away from Jesus. You hear me?
No demonic spirit, no human being faking it can actually set you on the right path. And nobody who is filled by the Spirit of God can set you on a course that dishonors Jesus. Because here’s what happens, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit always lifts Jesus up. The Holy Spirit always lifts Jesus. The Holy Spirit always gives honor to Jesus. The Holy Spirit always draws attention to Jesus. The Holy Spirit always gives authority to Jesus even though the Holy Spirit is God. The Bible is very clear. There’s three persons who make up God, Father, Son and Spirit. They’re all equally divine, they’re all equally powerful, they’re all equally worthy of worship, and yet the Holy Spirit says, don’t look at me. Look at Jesus. Pay attention to him, gives glory and honor and authority to Jesus. The Holy Spirit always lifts Jesus up. And so nobody empowered by the Holy Spirit can cause you to live in a way that takes glory and honor and authority away from Jesus.
He says the other side of it, the flip side is that no one can say Jesus is Lord, apart from the Holy Spirit. And again, we’re not just the words, but nobody can actually teach you to live in such a way that gives Jesus honor and glory and causes you to bow down to him as the Lord, unless they’re being empowered by God. No human being can set you on a path to give Jesus honor and glory in your life. No demon’s gonna set you on a path to give glory and honor to Jesus and lead you to obedience because the Holy Spirit always leads us to bow down to Jesus, right? The Holy Spirit always leads us to bow down. The Holy Spirit always causes us to live in a way that we give glory and honor to Jesus, and we bow down to him as Lord. That we give authority to him, that we live in obedience and submission to him.
So really, what Paul is saying is, there’s two sides of it. He says, the Holy Spirit always lifts Jesus up and leads us to bow down, right? There’s your criteria. There’s your key. There’s the way that we seek the source. We ask, does it lift Jesus up and lead me to bow down to him? That’s the key question. This is the important question, friends. Whatever the thing is, whether it’s seeming to have a supernatural origin or whether it just seems to be a voice that’s speaking with some authority, whatever it is, this is how we evaluate — as we are gonna see later in the book of Corinthians, this is how we evaluate somebody who claims to have a word of knowledge, or a word of wisdom, or to speak in tongues, or to give a prophecy, or whatever it is.
This is also how we evaluate that Bible study that everybody’s going after. This is the voice of God. You should listen to this Bible study. You should listen to this preacher, you should listen to this podcast. You should go to this church. The way we evaluate all of those voices, is that we ask this all-important question, does it lift Jesus up and lead me to bow down? And if the answer is it doesn’t lift Jesus up, it takes glory away from him, or it draws attention to a human being, or to some other thing other than Jesus, and it’s not leading me to live in submission and obedience, it’s not the Holy Spirit speaking. On the other hand, if it lifts Jesus up, draws attention, glory and honor to him, and it leads me to live in greater and deepening obedience and submission, then that very well might be the voice of God. But that’s how we seek the source.
And Paul starts this entire set of instructions on spiritual gifts with this one key truth. This one all important question because he says, the Holy Spirit’s not the only source of supernatural phenomenon. And you might see something and go, “Well, how could that not have the power of God? I mean, did you see the crazy things that are happening? Did you see the supernatural power that’s evident?” And then Paul says, “Yeah, but remember, the Holy Spirit’s not the only source of supernatural phenomenon.” Or we listen to a podcast, or a teacher, or read a book and we go, “But it sounds so good. It sounds so right. I mean, it’s using Bible verses all over the place. It must be the power of God.” Maybe, but this is the question, does it lift Jesus up and does it lead me to bow down to him? Before Paul goes into any more instruction, he says, you’ve got to learn to ask this question. This is the filter that we put everything through. This is the test that we use for every voice trying to speak authoritatively into our lives.
And so, I just have one question for you today because we launched this series and this is the question, what in my life do I need to apply this question to? What in my life do I need to apply this question? I’m wrestling with this right now. You need to wrestle with it. What in our lives do we need to apply this question to? The reality is that we’re often undiscerning. We allow things to speak into our lives that we have not evaluated. Books, and TV shows, and preachers, and churches, and podcasts, and so many different things, we allow them to influence our lives and we’ve never subjected them to this test. Is it lifting Jesus up and leading me to bow down? And what happens is, you know, we often go, well, it doesn’t really matter because it’s not really…it’s not having much of an impact on me. So does it really matter where it comes from? Because we look and we go, “Well, yeah, I mean maybe it’s not exactly speaking truth and maybe it’s not the voice of God in my life, but I mean, it’s not really impacting me.” But the problem is that what happens is sometimes the impact, it’s really small. You know, we’re only a half a degree off a plum. We’re only a half a degree off of going straight. And it doesn’t seem like much of a big deal until you get farther down the line, right? And that one degree off over the course of weeks, and months, and years, and decades, can very well lead us to places that we look around and go, how on earth did I get here? How did I get so far from Jesus? How did I get so far off of the Christian faith? How did I get so far off from that place where I’m recognizing the authority of Jesus and bowing down? How did I get here and the answer is because we allowed a voice to speak into our lives that got us just one degree off and we allowed it to keep speaking, and didn’t subject it to this all important question. So I challenge you this week spend some time asking the Holy Spirit to lead you. What in my life do I need to apply this question to?
Let’s just pray right now. Jesus, we thank you for your goodness. As the followers of Jesus, we thank you that you have saved us. You demonstrated you love for us in this, that while we were yet sinners, you died for us. You forgave our sin and in rising from the dead and inviting us to put our trust in you, you not only eliminated the debt of our sin, but you adopted us into the family of God and you invited us on mission with you. You allowed us to come into a new life of meaning and significance where we get to work with you, Jesus, extending the influence of our good father throughout creation. And not only did you call us to that mission, but you gifted us, you equipted us. You equipted us with gifts from your Holy Spirit.
Lord, we ask that you’d bless this study, that you bless this series, that over the next few weeks as we unpack what you teach us in your Word, you would help us to not be ignorant about spiritual gifts, to not allow them to divide our mission, but to multiply our mission. Lord, would you help us start out right this week by causing us through your Holy Spirit to ask this all-important question of all those voices speaking into our lives. Does it lift Jesus up and lead me to bow down? But would you show us each place in our lives that we need to apply that filter, that we need to seek the source, so we would be on the right path, pure of heart and of mind, and clear of those things that would encumber us from being on mission with you.
Now, if you’re follower Jesus, would you continue praying? I wanna ask you to do me a favor. Would you start praying for the people around you, the people watching online, all over the world? Because I believe in all of our campuses, there are people who can’t apply this truth. Even the concept of a spiritual gift is ultimately meaningless because they don’t have a spiritual gift, because they don’t have the Holy Spirit, because they don’t have faith. They don’t have a relationship with you, God. And if that’s you, I just wanna speak to you for just a moment wherever you happen to be. Because we were all in that same place at one point, maybe we’re trying really hard to please God by doing the right things and avoiding the wrong things, and so frustrated we can never seem to do enough right things or avoid enough bad things, always seem like we fall short. And maybe for you, faith is really religion. It’s just about trying to check the right boxes of the dos and the don’ts. And yet, that’s not the essence of Christianity. That’s a powerless version of Christianity. And if you’ve bought into it, I wanna speak to you right now.
This is true Christianity. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God loves you so much he sent his own Son to die for you. All those wrong things you’ve done, he took the weight of them on his own shoulders. He died on the cross to pay them off, to cancel your debt. Three days later, he rose from the dead to prove that he had accomplished it. That’s not a matter of faith. Those are facts of history.
Here’s the matter of faith. The risen Jesus is offering you forgiveness. He’s offering you adoption into the family of God. He’s offering you power through his Holy Spirit to come into your life to begin changing you from the inside out, to allow you to become the man or the woman that God designed you to be, that you’ll never get there on your own, but by faith in Jesus, you will be transformed. Faith comes in when we decide to accept his offer. And if you’re listening to this and you realize, I don’t have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus, I’ve never said yes to his offer. But if you’re ready to say yes, if you’re ready to put your trust in Jesus to see forgiveness and adoption and the power of the Holy Spirit, would you just lift your hand up right now if you’re ready? That’s awesome. Fantastic. If you’re watching online, just click the button right below me and wherever you are, you just have this conversation with God. In your heart, say this to him. Say, God, I’ve done wrong. I’m sorry.
Jesus, thank you for dying in my place. Thank you for paying the price of my sin. I know that you rose from the dead and that you’re offering me new life, forgiveness, adoption into your family, power through your Holy Spirit. I need all those things, Jesus, and so I’m ready to accept your offer. Right now, I’m saying yes to you, Jesus. Right now, I’m putting my faith in you, putting my trust in you. It’s all about you. Jesus, come into my life, be my Lord and my Savior. I’m yours for now and forever. Amen.
In all of our campuses this week, we’ve had a lot of people say yes to Jesus. Can we just welcome them into the family of God? That’s so awesome. Hey, if you made that decision today or this weekend, I’m gonna encourage you to do something really simple, just text the word ”Jesus” to 888111. You’re gonna get back a link that’s gonna tell you five things that are true about you now that weren’t true before you said yes to Jesus, including this power of the Holy Spirit that you have in your life to begin becoming the man or the woman that God designed you to be. So we’d love for you to text ”Jesus” to 888111. It’ll also give you the opportunity just to get some free resources to help you begin living out this new relationship with Jesus and being on mission with them.
Hey, right before I wrap up, if you grab your worship card, I just wanna highlight a couple of things. Neil talked about them, but I really wanna make sure that nobody goes out here and missing that two new experiences. We encourage you, if you said yes to Jesus recently, maybe even today, we have a Discovering Faith experience. It’ll help you figure out, you know, what is this Christianity thing? What does it look like to walk with Jesus? What are my next steps? Love for you to join us. It’s gonna be for the four weeks of June, starting next weekend. You can sign up online or at the Mission Hills’ Welcome Center or you can do it through the church app. Love to have you be part of that Discovering Faith. And the other one is the Discovering Mission Hills. Whether you’ve been coming to Mission Hills for one weekend or for 30 years, Discovering Mission Hills is an all new experience where you’re gonna figure out who we are as a church and what it looks like for you to understand the gifts that God has given you and what it looks like for you to be on mission with Jesus here as part of Mission Hills. Wanna fill that place up because I want everybody getting off the bench, getting onto the field, and being on mission with Jesus. And Discovering Mission Hills will help you do that. That’ll be all four weeks. At 11:00 in M3, starting next weekend. So you can also sign up for that online, in the app, or at the Welcome Center today. God bless. See you next time.
1 Corinthians 12:4-11
This week we continue our “EquipTed” series, looking at how God has gifted + equipped us to live on mission with Jesus. Join us as we learn how we can be empowered to discover the Spiritual Gifts we’re each endowed with and uncover how we can use those gifts to change the world around us.
Craig: Well, welcome to all of our locations. So glad you’re with us for week number two of our Equipted series. If you’re just joining us, you can always catch up on the messages online. But I’ll give you a quick little snapshot. Here’s what we know so far. Number one, we know that God has created and redeemed us for mission, so God created us for mission, he made us in his image and called us to partner with him and to extend his influence all to creation. We rebelled against that, kind of did our own agenda thing. But Jesus came and redeemed us not just from our sin, he didn’t just forgive us for our sin, he didn’t just invite us to be adopted into the family of God by faith, but he actually redeemed us for our mission and so he said to his earliest followers here’s what he didn’t say, he didn’t say, “Hey, come follow me. I booked some rooms at the Marriott. We’re gonna hang out, we’ll have a good time.” He said, “Now, come follow me, I’ll make you fishers of men.” In other words, you’re gonna go on mission with me, you’re gonna be part of extending God’s influence in the world.
So God created and redeemed us for mission, okay? So we know that. Second thing we know is that God has provided. Where God guides, he provides, right? If he’s gonna guide us to mission, he’s gonna provide what we need to be on mission with him. God’s never going to send us on a mission that we’re not geared up for. He’s never gonna call us to do something that he has not given us what we need in him to be able to accomplish. And so where God guides God provides and what we know too from last week is that God has provided in three different ways. He’s provided natural, learned, and spiritual gifts. Natural gifts are abilities that we have from the moment that he knit us together in our mother’s womb. So we know we’re born and we’re hardwired to be able to do some kinds of things. Some things we can do now we have learned abilities, which they developed over time with their experience and then we have spiritual gifts.
Spiritual gifts are things that we suddenly are able to do because the Holy Spirit is in us. Now, that’s only true believers. If you’re not a follower of Jesus, you also have natural gifts. You also have learned gifts, and God has given you those because he has a mission that he’s calling you to. But if you’re not a follower of Jesus, you don’t have a spiritual gift. That’s true, only a follower of Jesus…because the spiritual gifts are ability we have because the Holy Spirit is in us. And so the moment we say yes to Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes into us and begins to work through us. And one of the things that spirit does is gives us these things we call spiritual gifts. Now, how many of you have heard about spiritual gifts? Okay, almost everybody. How many of you would say with confidence I know exactly what my spiritual gift is? Not nearly so many hands, which is not surprising.
I think that there’s a lot of ignorance about spiritual gifts. And I know that’s a harsh sounding word, but that’s what Paul said. He said it back in 1 Corinthians 12. When we looked at last week, he said about spiritual gifts. I don’t want you to be ignorant, because when we’re ignorant, spiritual gifts, it either causes us to ignore our spiritual gifts or it ignites conflict within the church. And so what Paul wants to do is he wants to erase our ignorance. And so that’s what we’re gonna do today. I want you to go and grab your Bible, start making your way to 1 Corinthians 12. We’re gonna be picking up in verse 4. I think there’s a lot of ignorance about spiritual gifts in the church. I think there’s a lot of churches that are ignorant in ways that cause them to overemphasize particular gifts. I think there are a lot of churches that are talking about spiritual gifts in a way that causes them to not pay any attention to spiritual gifts. And because of that, and really on both sides of the aisle there we have our churches that are not able to be on mission with Jesus in the way that they’re called to be.
And so we’re going to raise some ignorance today. Paul begins in chapter 12:4 and says this, he says, “Now, there are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working or different kinds of ministries, we could translate it as, but in all of them and then everyone it is the same God at work.” Now, I want you to notice it is emphasis there is yes, there different kinds of gifts, but they all come from the same source, right? He says different gifts, one Giver. That’s his big emphasis there. And that’s foundational. It’s important that we realize that no matter what the gifts are, and there’s a lot of different kinds of gifts, we’re gonna talk about several varieties today. But all the gifts come from one source. So different gifts, one Giver. This is so, so important. It’s foundational. And what he’s really telling us is this, that the Giver is more important than the gift, okay? The Giver is more important than the gift and when we forget that, what happens is we can easily get fixated on particular gifts or just the gifts in general and forget about the Giver. And that’s kind of what was happening in the church in Corinth.
They were focused on, they were fixated on, they’re obsessed with the gifts and the Giver was somehow being pushed behind the scenes. And Paul says, when that happens, we’re gonna have problems. And so he says, “You gotta remember, the Giver is more important than the gift, so here’s what we need to do. We need to focus on the Giver, not the gifts. Focus on the Giver, not the gifts. That’s what Paul’s trying to get us to do. That’s foundational. And then on top of that foundation, he builds this truth, verse 7. Now, to each one, the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. And if you have the ability to highlight that in the Bible, or if you’re using the digital version, you can somehow mark that. I actually, I know this is going to sound sacrilegious on some level, but you might even do this with your page. You might even like bend the page. I know you’re not supposed to do that to a Bible, but that’s how important that verse is.
So each one is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. What Paul’s doing there is Paul is giving us hands down, there’s not even a close second, hands down the clearest definition of what a spiritual gift is. He says it’s a manifestation of the Spirit. It’s not just an ability that we have, it’s an ability and when we practice that ability, the spirit manifests. Now, manifestation that’s a that’s a big word, right? That’s five syllables. Like that’s a big word. So let me break it down. I gave you some other other ways to translate it, to get a handle on it. He says, not each one is given we could say it this way. Now, each one is given a revelation of the Spirit, okay? That’s another way you can translate it. We can also say not each one is given a demonstration of the Spirit, we could say each one is given an announcement of the Spirit. Here’s my favorite way to translate it. If I was in charge of translation, here’s what I would have said, that each one is given a showing up of the Holy Spirit because the word that Paul’s using is a word that basically means to make clear to others.
When I was in Peru a couple weeks ago, we were at the base of Machu Picchu, we’re in a little town down there. And we were at a hotel, we were there kind of late, and we were waiting to get all checked in. Took a while we were big group. And one of the members of our group kind of was wandering and she came back and said to Coletta and I, “Hey, I found something really cool. Do you wanna see it?” And we’re like, “Well, yeah, of course we do, right?” So she took us to the back of the hotel, which kind of got into the jungle, and there were these really old steps there like Inca kind of steps. And they like headed up the mountain into the jungle. She’s like, “Do you wanna see where they go?” And I’ll be honest, my first reaction was no, it’s a jungle. Like there’s jaguars, and like almost every Indiana Jones movie begins with something horrible happening when you walk steps like these into that…but Coletta was always game and even though she just had surgery on your foot, she’s like, “Okay, let’s do it.”
And so they start one of these steps and very quickly we’re in the dark and we can’t even see what the steps are. And so me being the problem fixer, I was like, I pulled out my cell phone, I turned on the flashlight app and I was like, this is not a good idea. But okay, come on. And what I was doing is I was highlighting each one of the steps so they would know where to take it and that’s kind of what Paul’s talking about here. He says, to each one is given away the Spirit shows up, to each one is given away that we as believers have a way of saying, there’s the Spirit. Here’s God, he’s at work, and here’s what he’s doing. It’s illuminating, it’s revealing, it’s showing people that the Holy Spirit is in the work in our midst.
By the way, I know a bunch of are going like, where did the stairs go? Yeah, no idea. We stopped. Because even the adventurous woman that were like totally wired up for this pretty soon they’re like, “It’s really dark. We should go back.” And so we went back. I have no idea where they went. Probably nowhere good honestly though. This is what Paul’s saying. He says, “Each one is given a showing up of the Spirit and the ability we have, it’s not just something we can do, but something that when we do it, the Holy Spirit kind of comes in sort of rides the wave of that ability and does things that only he can do. So it’s not just something we can do, it’s a way the Holy Spirit shows up through us. Does that make sense?
Now, that’s pretty cool, right? He says, “To each one to every follower of Jesus, if you put your faith in Jesus, then you have a spiritual gift.” And here’s what he says a spiritual gift is. Let’s put it in everyday English language. A spiritual gift is the main way that the Holy Spirit shows up through each believer. That’s what a spiritual gift is. It’s the main way the Holy Spirit shows up through each believer. Now, we might have more than one spiritual gift. There might be different ways the Holy Spirit shows up in each of us as individuals, but there’s always at least one main way and this doesn’t mean that every time you do that thing the Holy Spirit shows up in the same way or to the same degree, but there’s a main way that the Holy Spirit shows up through each and every one of us let’s put our faith in Jesus. That’s really exciting news, right?
So now the question is, what’s that way? We need to know it, right? We need to know what it is because listen, you might be sitting here going well, I know that person has a spiritual gift. Craig, I know you have a spiritual gift. I’ve known these people have spiritual gifts, but he really, really told me that I have a spiritual gift, that I have a way that the Holy Spirit says here I am. Yes, it’s exactly what I’m saying. Listen to me, this is so, so important. If you’re a believer, if you are a believer, God has a main way that he wants to show up through you. So important you understand this. If you’ve said yes to Jesus, if you put your faith in Jesus, God has a main way that he wants to show up through you. And our job as a Church, partly, our job as the body of Christ is to help you discover that gift and then to deploy on mission with that gift.
How do we do that? I’ll say how we don’t do it. I’m gonna step on some toes here. We don’t do it through spiritual gifts surveys. There’s like personality test. I don’t know if you’ve ever encountered these, but there’s like, you know, you got the Myers Briggs and StrengthsFinder. Well, the Christians have a version of that, too. We’re always like, follow like, me too, me too. I’ll build one too. And we built spiritual gifts surveys. I don’t like spiritual gift surveys. And I’ll tell you why. Part of the reason I don’t like spiritual gifts surveys is because you know how to game the system. When you read the question, like I know exactly what spiritual gift they’re talking about. And I really liked that spiritual gifts. So I may answer yes to that question. And then a whole bunch of people, like I have the gift of teaching, I have the gift of this or this or this, whatever it is, we go, that’s the gift that I want. But that’s not necessarily the best way to figure out what your spiritual gift is. The other reason I’m not a big fan of surveys is because I think they take such an important element out of the process of discovering your spiritual gifts. They take the people of God out of the process.
And here’s the thing, sometimes, in fact, I want to say most of the time, the way that God shows up isn’t necessarily discernible to the person that God is showing up through. It’s the other people who are in impacted by it, it’s the other people who are affected by what God does that most clearly see that God is working in someone. I’ll give you example my own life. When I was in college I really thought where God was leading me was music ministry, I was a decent musician. I thought God was using me, He had used me in some ways. And so I thought, that’s my spiritual gift. That’s where I’m headed to. So I was involved with a campus ministry called Campus Crusade for Christ, which they now call it CRU, which I think was a very good decision. Like whoever decided let’s put the word crusade into a Christian organization, because people only have positive associations with the word crusade, right? How could that possibly go wrong? Yep, Campus Crusade for Christ. Nobody’s going to think badly. They finally was like, maybe not the best idea that we renamed CRU. But I was involved with this ministry when I was in college, and I was a worship leader for them, and I was a Bible study leader for them.
And at a certain point, the guy was disciplining me, helping me become like Jesus and join him on mission. He came to me one afternoon, he said, “Hey, I need you to go to one of our expansion campuses next week, and I need you to do the talk.” Now, what we had was we had staff on our campus as a Kent State University, a big university, we had to have a full time staff, but they had expansion campuses that didn’t have full time staff, but they would go like on Wednesday nights and the staff would volunteer at one of those campus and they do a program basically a church service. And he said, none of us can do it. I need you to go give the talk. And I was like, “I don’t do that. That’s not what I do. I play guitar and I sing songs.” He’s like, “Well, you can do that too. But I need you to give a message.” I was like, “Okay.” I don’t even know why I said yes. But I said yes.
So I went and I did what I did. I played music, we led some worship. I thought that went really well. At a certain point I put the guitar down and I stood up, I was like, okay, and I didn’t know how to give a talk. I didn’t know how to teach. I wasn’t a Bible college student. I was actually an audio engineering major. Nobody ever taught me how to develop a talk. Certainly no one ever taught me how to deliver a talk. So what I basically did was I just told a crazy story of something that happened while I’d been on tour with a band in Europe that summer. I told this crazy story about what happened. And then I was like, you know, and that kind of reminds me of this verse from the Bible. I don’t even remember which verse it was, I don’t even know if it was a good connection. But I was like that reminds me of this verse. I was all backwards is my story and then God’s Word all kinds of broken. And I was like but, you know, here’s what it reminds me of. And here’s a couple of thoughts that I have around sort of putting that into practice. And I was like, okay, I’m done. My guitar will sing other song. Okay.
And when it’s over, an interesting thing happened. Several people came up to me, not the whole crowd, but several people came up to me and they gave me some encouraging words. And I remember the words because they were all kind of the same sort of words. And nobody came up to me and said, that was awesome. Didn’t happen. And they’re right. It was not an awesome talk. Nobody came up said you’re an awesome speaker. That didn’t happen. But what almost every one of them said was that really impacted me. I was like, “Really?” He said, “Yeah, that really spoke to me.” And several even said, you know, when you said this or that, it’s like a light bulb went on. And I felt like God was saying, this is the area that in my life I need to deal with, and your insights actually helped me figure out like, what do I do with that? I was like, Huh, okay.
I went back to my dorm that night and I prayed. Hey, God, thanks for showing up. Appreciate it. I’ll get back to music now. I graduated college, Coletta and I took a job as…I was a youth pastor for a small church. It was a temporary gig, we were in the process of raising money to go on staff with CRU with a band. But I took this youth ministry job for about a year was the plan and I found myself having to do a whole lot of teaching. And I kept having similar responses from people. People would say, that really impacted me. A light bulb went on. God spoke to me through that, including part of my job was a youth pastor. I don’t know why it was my job, but part of my job as a youth pastor was to do what they called the kids sermon, the children’s sermon, anybody know children’s sermons? If you’re not familiar, in some churches, what happens is they want as many people as possible in the service during the worship, so they let the kids stay in there, that whole service up to that point, and then they want to get the kids out of there before the message starts. But they want to be spiritual about it. So they have them all come up front for this little thing called the children’s sermon and somebody gives a little to three minute message that was my job as the youth pastor.
And so I would do weird stuff. I’d get up there like a tube of toothpaste and I’d squish it all out and I’d share a proverb about the power of words because like words like that, once it goes out, you can’t get it back in. You gotta be careful about words, blah, blah, blah and just silly little things. But almost every week, people would come up to me after the service, mostly adults, who would look around for the pastor. He can’t hear me now. And they would say, “That really impacted me.” There was a light bulb that went on like God spoke to me and I was like, “What? Okay.” And every time I’d go home, and I go, God, thanks for showing up. And I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes. Nobody ever came up to me after a song and said God showed up. People would come and say, “That was a great song. You’re a gifted worship leader. Ah, that’s really good I enjoyed that.” But when I taught, people would come up to me and say, “God seem to show up.”
It took me a while to get a handle on that. I was saying, God, thanks for showing up before I just finally sense that Jesus was going…I was like, oh, that’s my spiritual gift, that’s the main way that God shows up through me. It doesn’t mean I don’t have other abilities and it doesn’t mean every time I teach God shows up in exactly the same way, but that seems to be the main way that God shows up to me. It took me a while to figure that out. Spiritual gifts survey would never reveal that because I didn’t even like teaching. And I hadn’t done enough of it for me to be able to talk about whether or not I was effective. The people of God helped me to see that. I don’t like systems of discovering spiritual gifts that take the people of God out because the reality is often like I’ll finish a message, this still happens, I’ll finish a message and I’ll go, “That was not good. Man, that was the worst message.” This happened to me this weekend. You guys get the second round, actually you’re the third round. The first time I delivered this one, I sat up here afterwards like that was man, uh. And then I went out and several people went, “Boy, that was really impactful. That was super impactful. God showed me this.” And I’m like, “Okay, thanks, Jesus.”
It’s not necessarily an ability that we can sense, it’s a question of what the people of God, the Holy Spirit showed up, God showed up. And see our job as a Church is to make sure that you understand this is so, so important that every one of us who said yes, every follower of Jesus has a main way that God wants to show up to us. And so the question is, how do we go about discovering and developing? It’s so important that we do because here’s the thing, when we work together, when we discover our gifts, and when we live out those gifts, when we deploy in those gifts, what happens is we advance the cause of Christ, we advance the mission of God so much more powerfully than we could ever do on our own. But then I have a picture, we have a picture. That thing, can we get that picture up here? The lighthouse? Yeah, it’s a lighthouse, right? Now, let me ask you this question, which is more important the light or the house?
The natural response is the light and that’s true, right? Because I mean, the house itself by itself is not gonna protect any boat from, you know, wrecking on the shores of the reef or whatever it is, right? The light is the most important thing, but without the house, the light can’t do its job. The lights are gonna lay down on the ground and it’s not gonna shine in the darkness, and it’s not gonna make its difference, bigger difference as it’s supposed to do. What happens is that we’re like the bricks that make up the lighthouse. And when we’re operating in our gifts, with our natural gifts, and our learned gifts, as well as our spiritual gifts, we’re putting them all in Jesus hands. And when we’re living in those on mission, what happens is all of us individually come together as the bricks and we build the house up and we lift up the Gospel, we lift up the Good News of Jesus for all the world to see.
And when we don’t do that the light stays lower down. And it doesn’t accomplish the purposes of God in the same way that it’s supposed to. And so we’ve gotta come together, we gotta build ourselves up so that we’re holding the light of the Gospel up high. And so Paul says, to each one is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. I’m actually not a huge fan of that translation. But it’s the last part, the common good, that I’m not crazy about because the word that Paul uses really talks more about a common purpose or common mission. He says each one is given a showing up of the Spirit for the common mission. In other words, we’re accomplishing what God has called us together to do to hold the light of the Gospel up high for the world to see. It says we need to know what our spiritual gifts are. And so he goes on and he gives a list of some spiritual gifts so that we know what he’s talking about.
Now, I want to tell you two things about this list before we unpack it. Number one, once you understand that this is not an exhaustive list of all the spiritual gifts, okay? This list does not give all the possibilities, you don’t need to go which one of those do I have? This is not an exhaustive list. There’s several other places in Scripture where there’s other lists of spiritual gifts and some of those lists have items that are not on this list. And some of the items on this list don’t show up in those other lists, okay? I don’t think those lists are exhaustive. And I also don’t think that if you put all the lists together, we have an exhaustive list, because the point isn’t to say, here’s all the different ways that the Holy Spirit might show up, figure out which one of these is and push yourself into that. No, no, his point is simply to illustrate that there’s a vast variety of ways that the Holy Spirit shows up. God is infinitely creative. There’s lots of different ways that he might show up through you. But he kind of illustrates with a list, here’s some examples.
Secondly, I want you understand what the list of all gives us here is this is it. The Bible doesn’t define these lists. It doesn’t define these particular items. It doesn’t tell you this is what this gift means, here’s how you understand and the reason for that is the focus is supposed to be on the what? On the Giver. So, so important. There’s some things in this list that are immediately obvious. We know exactly when we saw them. He talks about the gift of healing. Listen, if you pray for somebody to be healed, and they’re immediately healed, okay, that’s the gift of healing. We get that, there’s no question about that. But he mentioned some other things that are not so clear. He talks about message of wisdom, or word of wisdom, or word of knowledge, and there’s nowhere in the Bible that explains exactly what that means. Now, I’m gonna be honest with you that has not kept preachers and Bible study leaders from inserting their guesses. Sometimes they’re honest about it, here’s what I think. Other times they come across real definitive like this is what it is like, oh, I didn’t know that. Yeah, because we don’t know that.
They’re just guesses the Bible doesn’t define it. I’m not gonna put words in God’s mouth. I’m not gonna try to find these. Because again, I think what Paul’s saying is not, here, you need to understand exactly what each gift here means. You need to understand that it’s all about the Giver That’s where the focus is. Listen, he says this, to one is given through the Spirit, a message or a word of wisdom. To another word or a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit. To another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit and he distributes them to each one just like he determined. You see the rhythm of it?
Over, and over, and over again, it’s about the Giver, not the gift. Now, part of the reason that he’s doing this is because this was the problem in the Church at Corinth, they were fixated, not on the Giver, they’re fixated on the gifts, and particularly on a very small subset of the gifts that we might call the charismatic gifts are sometimes called the sign gifts. Every list, every item that’s on this list that Paul mentions here is part of the sign gifts. These are the kind of in your face really obvious, showings up of the Holy Spirit. And these are the ones that the Church in Corinth was obsessed with. And so he chooses his list of examples from this particular list is not an exhaustive list. And again, he doesn’t define them because that’s not the point. His point is to go hey, it’s about the Giver.
In other words, what makes the gift significant isn’t how spectacular it is, or how obvious it is and always, what makes a gift significant is the source. Listen, source determines significance. That’s what Paul’s saying. Who it came from is so much more important than the particular gift. Source determines significance. I’ll share something with you. I’m gonna be super vulnerable right now. Here’s the vulnerability. This is not like you’re like oh, he brought one of his kids toys. No, this is mine. This is Blinky Bill. I searched on eBay, he’s worth like 10 bucks. But I’ve kept him since I was like two years old. He hangs out in my music studio at home. He’s special to me. He’s significant to me. It’s not because of his monetary value. It’s because of where it came from. It came from my dad. When I was about two, three years old, my dad went on a trip to Australia, he came back with Blinky Bill.
Blinky Bill’s significant to me not because, you know, like I don’t think this is koala fur I think its probably fake fur. He’s lost both eyes at this point. He’s missing…he’s not all that valuable from the worldly perspective, but he’s significant to me because of who he came from. He came from my dad. So the source determines significance. Or if that’s a little touchy feely for you, let’s try this. Can I have that picture up here. This is a sketch. It’s not a polished painting, it’s not a finished work of art, it’s a sketch, $16 million. You know why? The source, it’s Leonardo da Vinci. Recently discovered sketch from Leonardo da Vinci, $16 million. Because of the source, the source determines significance. And so Paul says, that’s the same truth when it comes to the gifts of the Spirit. It’s the Spirit who’s, you know, it’s God at work, who’s significant.
You gotta remember that source determines significance. When you don’t, here’s several things that happen and they’re all bad for the church. The first thing that happens when we forget that source determine significance is that we start to value some gifts more than others, because will that’s the really valuable gift. That’s really important gift When that happens, we begin to go, I wish I had that gift and we become envious of people who have that gift. We start to devalue the gifts that we have, we fail to understand that their significance is rooted in the fact that God shows up through these things. But we start to devalue, and when we devalue in our own lives, then we don’t practice it. And then God shows up less among his people. All because we forgot that source determines significance.
Now, which gifts we value depends a little bit on the church, honestly. And there’s some sides of Christianity that value different sets of gifts than maybe we would tend to value in Mission Hills. In Mission Hills, I’ll tell you the gift that we tend to value a lot. It’s the gift of teaching. That’s the gift that we do, that’s the best gift. That’s the most important gift. It’s not. As someone with the gift of teaching, let me tell you, it is not the most important gift. There is no most important gift. When we value teaching, if we don’t have the gift of teaching, they go well, then somehow, you know, I fell short. Somehow, I’m not as important, I’m not as significant. It happens in other churches too. Sometimes they value different things. I dated a girl in college that was part of a more charismatic kind of church. And in that church, the gift of teaching isn’t necessarily the one they value, the gift of tongues or prophecy. Those might be the gifts that they really value.
Different churches value different gifts, but it’s so easy, because when we forget that source determines significance, we go well, I’ll decide the most significant and so we value this or this, but not these and those in that, that creates division in the church. And it creates a context in which the gifts are not operating the way they’re supposed to. Second thing that happens when we forget that source determine significance is that we start to value some gift-havers more than others, not just the gift, but we start to divide the people who have that gift more than others. And the charismatic church that this girl was part of that I was dating. One of the gifts they really had was the gift of tongues.
It was my first really encounter with that. And so I you know, I asked her a certain point, like, you know, how did you get the gift of tongues? Like what was that like? And she said, something I will never forget, so interesting. She said, “Honestly, I didn’t have it for a long time. And it was hard because our church valued that gift. And the people who had it so much they were the more spiritual, they were the ones that God was really blessing. I always felt like an outsider because I didn’t have that gift. And then she said this, she said, so I started faking it. She said, I faked it for a long time, I faked the gift of tongues.
Now, please, please hear me. I’m not saying that’s true of everybody. I’m not saying everybody who has the gift of tongues is fake. I don’t believe that. I believe it’s a genuine legitimate manifestation of the Spirit. We’ll talk in this series a little bit about the parameters that God gives us for understanding what it is and how it functions. But I don’t think that her was, you know, the story of everybody was a gift of tongues, but I also know for a fact, because I’ve heard the same story multiple times. It’s not a unique story. So when a church values that gift and then they value the haver or that people who have that particular gift. Then people who don’t have that gift, they feel devalued, and they’ll end up doing some very strange things. It can happen in the Evangelical Church and evangelical we value teaching.
It’s really easy for somebody who has the gift of teaching to start suddenly feeling like, I’m a big deal. I’m not, I’m not a big deal. And I don’t believe that my gift is more important than any other. It has a particular operation. It’s important I need to use it. Because I want God to show up through it. But it’s not more important than other gifts I’ll be I’ll be honest, I have been ministered to by people that have the gift of encouragement that God shows up when they’re encouraging. That minister to me more than any sermon I’ve ever heard. I have a tremendous value that I placed on the gift of encouragement. I don’t have it, but it’s powerfully impacted my life. But when we forget that source determines significance, we begin to look at certain people and go well they have this gift, therefore they’re more important and that creates division. It creates jealousy, it creates a lack of unity in the Church fails to hold the light of the Gospel up as high as it supposed to.
Because we forgot that source determines significance. Third thing that happens, unfortunately, is that we start to value how a gift advances us rather than how it advances the Gospel. When we value certain gifts, and certain people have them, it’s so easy to begin with people who have those gifts to go, well, yeah, then my gift actually, it pushes me into the spotlight, it pushes me forward. It gives me notoriety, and fame, and influence, and honor, and esteem and all those kinds of things. And it’s so easy to get that because we’re we’re valuing how it advances me rather than the Gospel or the God who gave me the gift. And it certainly can be true of teaching in the Evangelical Church, can be to have the gift of prophecy, or other kinds of things like that in other kinds of churches. But let’s face it, guys, there’s no gift that’s been given so that people look at us and go, you’re awesome.
And I get that sometimes, and I know that when it’s given, it is given as a compliment. I know it’s given as an honor and I get that. But it makes me intensely uncomfortable. And so always my response is. No, I’m not. I’m so glad God’s using me, I’m so glad God’s showing up. But we can’t allow gift to advance us rather than the God who gave it and the Gospel that he’s given us to share. Every one of us has a gift. If you remember nothing else from today, this is this is the truth that I want you to grab a hold of and I want you to go out of here wrestling with God wants you to discover and to deploy your spiritual gift. God has a way that he wants to show up through you. If you are a follower of Jesus. God has a way that he wants to show up through you. God wants you to discover it, he wants you to deploy it. How do we do that? Let’s get practical. Step number one, you need to make sure that you have a relationship with God.
Because the spiritual gifts we’re talking about, they’re different than natural gifts. They’re different than learn gifts. These are abilities that come to us by the Holy Spirit. Now, sometimes the gift does involve a natural gift or learn gift. Sometimes God takes that and starts to show up through that. But the gifts that we’re talking about here these ways Holy Spirit show up, they only happen because the Holy Spirit is in us. And Holy Spirit is only in us when we have put our faith in Jesus Christ. God loves you so much he sent his Son to die for you. On the cross, he paid the price for every sin that you’ve ever committed. Three days later, he rose from the dead to prove that he had paid off the debt of sin and to offer you the new life that he has. When we say yes to Jesus, we get forgiven of our sin, we get adopted into the family of God and the Holy Spirit comes to live in us. And when the Holy Spirit comes to live in us, he brings this way that he shows up through us.
If you don’t have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus, you don’t have a spiritual gift, but you can. But you have to have that relationship will give you the opportunity to do that before the day is over. Make sure you have a real relationship with Jesus. It’s not just a matter of, well, I’ve gone to church my whole life, or I’ve tried really hard to be a good person, none of that’s going to do it. Jesus didn’t die for good people. He died because we could never be good enough. He died to do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves, you gotta have faith in him. You can do that today if you don’t have it. But that’s the first step. Second step is this. You need to check your motives. You need to ask yourself the question, why do I want to know what my spiritual gift is? Is it about advancing you about gaining honor and respect? Is it just because that would be really cool to know how God does that? None of those are sufficient motives. Why do you want to know what your spiritual gift is? Why do you want to know how God shows up through you? Check your motives. Third step is this, pray and pray specifically for a more missional mindset. Pray that God would make you the kind of person who wants to be on mission with him. As we say at Mission Hills. We’re here to help people become like Jesus and join them on mission two sides of the same coin.
And I’m convinced that one of the reasons that a lot of people don’t know what their spiritual gift is, is because they don’t have a missional mindset. So they’re not looking for it to be more effective in their mission with Jesus. They’re looking to know what their spiritual gift is for different reason. And I think that’s one of the reasons why people don’t know their spiritual gift is God will reveal your spiritual gifts when we are moving more and more into that place where we’re going to use it for what it’s intended to be on mission with him. So pray for a missional mindset. Fourth step is this, this is so important. You don’t take a spiritual gifts inventory survey, you ask. You ask other believers, when they’ve seen God show up through you. This is how we do it. You ask other believers, when they’ve seen God show up through you, by the way that the question you ask is not Hey, when I did this, did you see God show up through me? Okay, because you’re going to be talking to nice people they’re gonna be like, of course I did. Yes, absolutely.
That’s not the question. There’s some other questions that we’ve published a list of questions there in the Mission Hills app. If you don’t have it, get it free. Go to Mission’s app, you’re going to find a list of questions that we develop that you can ask other people that will help you get at this issue where have you seen God showing up through me? This is how we discover it friends. so important. I was in Zimbabwe, a few years ago, I was part of a nonprofit, one of my staff was there with us. And at a certain point in our trip, I remember, we were sitting on this wall waiting for our van to come and take us to something and some of the issues spiritual gifts came up and she said to me, she said, yeah, I’ve been following Jesus for like, 25 years and I don’t have any idea what my spiritual gift is. And my response was, what are you talking about? I said, you have the gift of hospitality. And she goes, I hate potpourri.
I, like Martha Stewart is on my hit list. I was like no, no, no that that’s that’s not that’s the American modern hospitality. I said. I said hospitality is it’s the ability to make people feel so comfortable with you, making you feel at home with you that they just they lay it all on the table and then they’re willing to let you into their lives and you’re able to minister to them in ways that other people can’t because they let the walls come down. And she goes, really? I said, yeah, I said, how many times when you’re in a coffee shop, do people, random people just stop by your table? Go? What are you studying, sit down and talk to you. And they’re there for two hours. And they’ve shared their entire lives with you. She goes all the time.
I said, yeah, how many times a year on the on the airplane, and you’re going to try to get some work done. But somebody random sits down next to you. And they go, hey, what are you talking about? And they don’t even listen to answer, then they start telling you what their lives are like, and what they’re struggling with where their points of pain are. They lay it all on the table, and you’re able to speak the Gospel into that maybe they come to Jesus, maybe they don’t, but you have a relationship, and they keep speaking to you and God’s extending his influence into their lives. How often does it happen? She goes every time. It’s like, yes, that’s the gift of hospitality. And she went, I had no idea.
So I wish you had asked that question to somebody sooner. Because everybody around and we were all like, how do you not know this? Because we’d all seen it. We need to ask people where we see God showing up. We developed some questions help you do that. And then the fifth step is this, you need to try different kinds of serving. Try different kinds of serving. Because when we don’t try different kinds of serving, we don’t give people the opportunity to see where God might show up. But sometimes we don’t try them guys to serve because like, well, I didn’t like that, or I wouldn’t be good at that. That’s okay. We’re not gonna put you in charge of it. But maybe subbing. I can’t tell you the number of people that I know who are children’s pastors now. They only work with kids who got into children’s ministry kicking and screaming, because they said, I don’t like kids.
I’m not any good with kids. But we got guilted. The pastor gave the message that we don’t have enough kids workers, we need somebody and said, like, okay, I’ll do it for couple of weeks. And the most remarkable thing happened. They were like, this works. Like, I’m impacting these kids. My group’s listening me that group is insane. They’re crazy. And that guy’s losing his hair because they can’t…and what’s different? Do I just have a really good kid? No, no, God’s showing up through you. And they began to see that and then they began to love it. Sometimes we come to love the way God shows up, not necessarily we love it before God shows up. I didn’t love teaching. But I love the fact that God shows up even when I feel like this was not a good message. People go, yeah, but the light bulb came on when God showed up. That’s awesome. I love that now.
We need to try different kinds of serving. And when we refuse to try different kinds of serving, we might very well be missing an opportunity to let other people around us see whoa, God showed up then you step out of our comfort zone, so we try again serving and then we need to circle back to number four, and ask those questions. God has a way he wants to show up through you. He has a main way he wants to show up there he wants you to discover and to deploy your spiritual gift. We need to get at it. The mission of God that he’s given us is at stake. Will we hold the light of the Gospel up as high as it should be? Or keep it down on the ground, bright as always, but unable to be seen from the distance that it should be. We gotta get at this. Would you pray with me? Jesus, it’s ridiculous. You died on the cross for us. You died while we were yet sinners, we were sinful, we’re in rebellion against you. And yet you came and you paid the price for our sin on the cross that love, that grace. It’s unbelievable. But you didn’t stop there. When you rose from the dead, you didn’t just offer us forgiveness. You adopted us into the family of God, you gave us new life that goes on forever and ever with our Creator. That’s ridiculous. But even that wasn’t enough for you. Beyond that you gave us your Holy Spirit.
The third person that turned to God himself in our lives, looking to show up through us. That’s ridiculous, but it’s so cool. Thank you. For those of us who know what our spiritual gifts are we say thank you, Lord, help us to value the Giver and not the gift. Help us to use it to advance your cause not ours. For those of us who don’t know what our spiritual gifts are Lord, but asked for powerful movement, your Holy Spirit, give them the courage to try new things. Give them the courage to to ask those questions of others. And Lord, would you speak to those around them so that you can speak through those to them about the ways that you want to show up to them because we want you to show up. We want to be the kind of Church that’s filled with people where you show up through us and draw attention and glory and honor to yourself and help us to get after it.
To discover and deploy our gifts. As the followers of Jesus, we say thank you. If you are a follower of Jesus, just give me a favor. Begin praying for the people around you. The people watching online at all of our locations that don’t know God, they don’t have a relationship with him because I want to speak to you for just a moment. Maybe there’s something in this message has made you go. Well, I wish that were true of me. I wish I had God in me. I wish had a way that God was showing up through me. Well, God wants you to have that too. But it starts with the relationship. Not a religion, it’s not something you don’t earn the right for God to show up through you because you did enough good things and avoided enough bad things. You don’t you don’t convince God to show up through you because you attended church long enough, or you were in this Bible study or whatever, all that stuff. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about a relationship.
If you don’t have a relationship with God, you need to understand how desperately he wants it. God loves you so much, he sent his own Son to die for your sins. Jesus rose from the dead and he’s offering you forgiveness. He’s offering your relationship with your Creator that goes on forever. And he’s offering you the power of God coming into your life to change you from the inside out, and to begin showing up through you in such a way that you can be a part of the mission of God. And if you came in today and you realize I don’t have that relationship with something in the message that he said, that’s where I need to start, I need that relationship. And if you’re ready to say yes to Jesus to put your faith in him, you just slip your hand up right now. If you’re ready to say yes to Jesus, that’s awesome. Fantastic. If you’re watching online, just click the button right below me. And wherever you are, you just have this conversation with God.
In your heart, say, God, I’ve done wrong and I’m sorry. Jesus, thank you for dying in my place. I believe that you rose from the dead, that you’re offering me, forgiveness and a new life. I need both of those. And I know you’re the only source of them. So right here right now, Jesus, I’m saying yes to you. Putting my trust in you. Putting my faith in you. Come into my life. Be My Lord my Savior, for now and forever. Amen. All of our campuses we have a number of people this weekend make that decision to join the family of God. The family of Jesus. Can we just welcome them into the family? So awesome.
1 Corinthians 12:12-27
We are continuing our series on how God has equipped + gifted us to be on mission with him. This week we look at how the church is made up of unified elements – one body – and diversity – the parts/people who make up the body of Christ. Now here’s the big question: which is more important: diversity or unity?
Craig: Welcome to all of our locations including those of you who are joining us Church Online, so glad you’re with us. We are three weeks deep into our Equipted Series, taking a look at all the ways that God has equipped and gifted us, equipted us to be on mission with him. Here’s what we know. We know that God created and redeemed us for mission. The Garden of Eden, I don’t know if you know this, the Garden of Eden was not a day spa. Anybody? It wasn’t a retreat center. The Garden of Eden was a mission training facility. And basically, what God did was he planted the garden. He put Adam and Eve in it, and he said, ”Hey, you see what I did here, you’re gonna do this out there. You’re gonna rule and subdue all creation. You’re gonna bring order to it.” And so really, they were made to extend God’s influence in creation.
That’s what our calling was, that’s what our mission was, our purpose was. We rebelled against that. We went AWOL, but God loved us so much that he sent his own Son and he paid the penalty for our rebellion in his blood. But Jesus didn’t just die to forgive us for our sin. He also died sort of to bring us back into our mission. And so Jesus said to all of his followers, go into all the world, preach the Gospel, the Good News to all creation. That’s mission. And so we were created and redeemed for mission. And we also know that where God guides, he provides. God’s too good a Father to call us to do something and not equip us to be able to succeed in that calling. And so God has provided what we need to carry out the mission that he’s guided us to.
Now, we also know that there’s three different ways that God has provided. There are natural gifts, abilities that we have because we were born with them. God wired us from the start with them. We have learned gifts. Those are abilities that we have because we developed them over time and through experience. And then we have spiritual gifts. We talked about these last week. These are gifts and abilities we have because the Holy Spirit comes into us the moment we say yes to Jesus, and he brings with it these new abilities. And as we saw last week, what’s great about spiritual gifts is they’re not just a new ability we have, but it’s actually the way that God shows up to us, is the way the Holy Spirit announces his presence through us, to the body of believers and to the world. So it’s really important that we understand our spiritual gifts as well.
If you missed the teaching last week, I really wanna encourage you to get caught up in that content. You can do it through the Mission Hills App or through the website or through a podcast because every follower of Jesus has one of these main ways that the Holy Spirit shows up through them and we wanna know what they are. And in the last week’s teaching, we talked about some very practical steps to help discover what that spiritual gift is. But today, we’re gonna add a fourth category of gifts. We’ve talked about natural and learned and spiritual gifts. Today, we’re gonna talk about the gift of other people.
I always like to just get a feel for the room because there’s always some people who are like, do we have to bring other people into this? Because other people may think so much harder and they do, right? You know what? When I was single, there was no division or conflict in my apartment. My apartment was a place of perfect unity and peace. I always understood what I was saying. I always saw things with the same set of priorities. We were perfectly unified. And then Coletta and I got married, and suddenly, two things happen. Number one, we got better. We are definitely better together. She brought things to the table, ways of seeing things, gifts and abilities that I didn’t have. All of that made me better. I brought gifts to the table she didn’t have, so I made her better. Together we were better. And honestly, I think together we were better at being on mission with Jesus, together we were better at extending God’s influence in the world, not only than we were as individuals, but really than we were even with just the two of that’s the, you know, the two of our abilities and gifts and stuff coming together. We were better together, but at the same time we got better together, things also got harder, right?
You added another person into the mix and there’s always a new potential for conflict and division. And what I realized was the more people you add to the mix, the division and the conflict or the potential for that grows exponentially. It’s not just a one to one kind of a deal. See, where it’s just Coletta and I, there was only one possible conflict configuration, right? She and I could have conflict and division with each other. It was just one. When we added our oldest daughter into it, I realized we didn’t just go from one to like, you know, two or three, it was an exponential increase because here, check me on the math on this one. Okay. Here’s the potential conflict configurations when there’s three of us, I could have a conflict with Coletta. Okay. I could have a conflict with Rochelle. I could also have a conflict with Coletta and Rochelle together. Right, because they could be together with each other but not with me, right? That’s a new conflict configuration. But, Coletta could also have a conflict with just Rochelle and not me, or she could have a conflict with Rochelle and me. That’s we’re at five.
And there’s still one other potential conflict configuration as Rochelle could have a conflict with Coletta and I together. Six. We went from one to six by adding one person. And the math, by the way, this is factorial math for those of you who are like what kind of…it’s factorial math. It’s a little bonus. A little freebie for those of you who like that kind of thing. Here’s what it means. It means when we added our fourth daughter Lynae, we went from six possible conflict configurations to 24. If you have a family of five people, 120 possible configurations of conflict. Remember that show ”Eight is Enough?” Yeah, it’s way past enough. Eight people in your family, I kid you not, 40,340 possible configurations of conflict and division.
So what happens in the church when we go way beyond eight, when we talk about hundreds or even thousands? Just for fun, I was like, you know, Mission Hills, we estimate conservatively is about 7,000 people who come on a regular basis to Mission Hills. 7,000 people call it home. I just said, ”Hey, let’s work out the potential conflict configurations if we choose the 7,000 people.” So I put it into Excel and Excel was like, nope. I kid you not, it like didn’t give me an answer. It was just like I can’t calculate that. And I was like, wow, that’s bad news, right? Because you see here’s the problem, right? See, when we put more people together, things get better because no one person has all the gifts. And so by bringing different people together, we bring different gifts. And so here’s the central truth and I want you to understand this, God has equipped us for mission through the gift of other believers. We’re better together. But the more people you put into the mix, the more potential conflict and division that happens, right?
And so here’s the big question for today. How do we get the promised benefits of diversity without the potential conflict, without the potential division? How do we do that? And it’s an important question, not just for the Church. I think it’s an important question for marriages because the reality is when you get two people together, they’re better together, but it’s also harder, right? I’m not gonna, please just look straight at me. No, don’t look around. We’re not gonna do any hand raising, but I think a lot of people, they got together and at first, it was like, oh, this is good. We’re better together. Then things got a little bit harder and sometimes people begin to go like this would be a whole lot easier if I were single again. It would be easier, but it wouldn’t be better. We’re better together, but more people we put together the more potential for conflict and division. And so how do we get the promised benefits of all these different gifts and stuff coming together? Because no one person has all the gifts, right? And so we need multiple people to get all the gifts assembled. How do we get the promised benefit of those gets without the potential conflict and division? That’s the question we’re gonna push in today. It would be useful I think not only in the church but in marriages and in working with your friend group and in work, in your neighborhood. Anytime you put a bunch of people together, things get better, but they also get harder. So how do we get the promised benefits without the potential conflict?
Why don’t you go ahead and grab your Bible, start making your way to the book of 1st Corinthians Chapter 12 and pick up where we left off last week. We’re in verse 12 which says this, ”Just as a body though one has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” And we said, so it is with Christ, what he means is, so it is with the body of Christ is kind of a shortened version of that, and the body of Christ is kind of code for the Church. So he says just as it is with the human body, so it is with the Church. And his point’s pretty easy to understand, it’s a very simple analogy. He says, you know, the body has many parts, right? You know, head, shoulders, knees, and toes, right? Nobody got to come back with the knees, okay? Lots of parts, one body, one body, many parts. He says, so it is with the Church. You know the body has many parts but it’s one person. The Church has many people, but it’s one Church.
And he introduces us here to two very important themes that we’re gonna see over and over today. On the one hand, he says the Church depends on diversity. The Church depends upon all these different parts coming together. If the parts don’t all come together and if we don’t have all the different parts represented, then you have a weaker church. In the same way that a body missing parts in some ways is weaker. It struggles a little bit. So the Church depends on diversity, but at the same time, he also says the church depends on unity. The Church depends on unity. It’s many parts, but it’s one body. They’ve gotta be focused on the same goal. They’ve gotta be moving together towards the same purpose. So it says the Church depends upon diversity and the Church depends upon unity. These are the two rails of the train track that the Church is the train that’s moving forward towards the horizon of extending God’s influence in the world of lifting the light of the gospel high for all the world to see, of making an impact around the world for all of eternity. That’s where we’re headed. And the two tracks that we run on are diversity and unity.
Now, I recognize that that word diversity leaves a bad taste in some people’s mouths. And the reason for that is because the world has tried to emphasize diversity in a way that it’s often caused harm and frustration and confusion. And the reason for that is very simple. The world doesn’t understand diversity. The world doesn’t get it. God gets it. He invented it. God invented diversity and there’s a reason why he invented it is because it allows us to succeed in the mission that he’s called us to. The world doesn’t get it, but the world has to get us to focus on diversity, but without some very important missing ingredients.
And so I recognize the word diversity may raise some red flags and I wanna ask you to do something for me. Do me a favor. Just set aside any past conceptions you have with that word diversity. Please set aside any preconceived notions, and I want us to think about diversity from a biblical perspective today. And when I use the word diversity, here’s what I mean. Biblical diversity is different gifts working towards the same goal, so, it’s so, so important. It’s different gifts working towards the same goal. It’s not different for the sake of different. You know what different for the sake of different is? It’s a recipe for division. It’s only when we have a same goal, that diversity actually becomes a meaningful thing that we can truly value. See, the world tries to teach about diversity, but without the common goal, without the common mission, without the common purpose. And so of course, divisions never going to do anything other than divide because we’re not using it in service of our higher calling of a larger purpose.
So when I say diversity this is what I mean, it’s different gifts working towards the same goal. And Paul says, ”Understood that way, diversity in unity are the two tracks that the Church runs on.” And he’s gonna emphasize those over and over again. Verse 14 he says, or 13 ”For we are all baptized by one Spirit, so as to form one body. Whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free, we were all given one Spirit to drink.” That’s unity, right? He says, doesn’t matter what your background is, doesn’t matter if you’re Jew or Gentile, those were the two big racial divisions of the day. We could say today, doesn’t matter if you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian, it doesn’t matter, right? Racially, it doesn’t matter where you come from. We’re all part of the same Spirit. He says, it doesn’t matter if you’re slave or free, those were the two big socioeconomic divisions of the day. Says, it doesn’t matter what your background is, we are all baptized into one Spirit and we all drink one Spirit. And that seems like strange language, right? You might be going like, what does it mean to drink the Spirit? Are we gonna become one of those kinds of churches? He’s like, he’s just making a really, it’s kind of a cool analogy actually because see when we’re baptized physically, we go into water, right? Symbolizes dying with Christ and being buried, and then when we’re brought up, we’re rising from the grave. And he says, we all were baptised, we’re all immersed into one Spirit, but in the same way that you can be immersed into water, you can also put water into you by drinking it. He says, it’s kind of like that with the Spirit. We’re all in one Spirit and one Spirit is in each one of us, but the point is it’s one Spirit which makes us one body. It’s an emphasis on unity. He says, even so, even though it’s one body, he says, even so, the body is not made up of one part, but of many. That’s diversity.
The Church depends on diversity. It says ”Now, if the foot should say because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body, it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say because I’m not an eye, I do not belong to the body, it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.” That’s unity. Regardless of how we think about it, regardless of our attempt sometimes to go, well, I don’t really belong and I don’t really fit in, I’m not really part of, he says you can say that all you want, but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re baptized into one Spirit. If you’re a follower of Jesus, you’re baptized into one Spirit, the Spirit is inside you. You are a part of the Church. We’re all one body. That’s unity. He says if the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? That’s diversity. Different gifts. He says the church depends on diversity. Without it, we would be a weaker body. But in fact, God has placed the parts of the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? That’s diversity,
But as it is, there are many parts, but there is one body. That’s unity, right? I mean, you just see it. It’s just over and over and over again. It’s the two tracks the Church runs on. We know the horizon and we know where we’re headed. We’re called to extend God’s influence in the world. We’re called the lift the light of the Gospel up high, to shine in the darkness for all to see, and the two tracks that take us there is diversity and unity. Over and over again, the Church depends upon both of them. The problem, of course, is that we struggle to be unified and our diversity often divides us rather than propelling us forward. And so he says this verse 21. He says, ”The eye cannot say to the hand, must not say to the hand, I don’t need you. And the head cannot say to the feet, I don’t need you.” Why not? Because they do need each other. Right, I mean the eye might recognize something that needs to go into the body. The eye might see, you know, a tall glass of cool water, but without the hand, the eye can’t get it into the body. So the eye can’t say to the hand, I don’t need. You know, the head might, you know, kind of look around and go, you know, we’re standing in the hot sun and we’re baking, we should get into the shade. But without the feet, it can’t accomplish it. It can’t get there. So the head can’t say to the feet, I don’t need you. The reality is we do need all of those parts. They all work together.
And so he says this, ”On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.” Those parts of the body for whatever reason and may have to do with, you know, we see other parts through our particular lens and we tend to think that our lens is best, then we look at the other parts and go, well, that’s weaker. Or maybe it’s a cultural thing. We grew up in a culture that emphasizes these things and not those things. As we look at those things and go, well, that’s not as important, there’s all kinds of reasons why we do it, but we have this tendency to look at different parts and go, those are less important. And Jesus says, you’re wrong. You could not be more wrong. They’re indispensable. There’s so important. He says, ”And the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty.” Well, our presentable parts need no special treatment. I don’t know about you. When I was growing up, that verse made me so uncomfortable. I was like, what’s the special modesty? And like, are we talking about the naughty bits here with like why is that in the Bible? Why are we having this conversation? But what I’ve come to understand is what he’s actually talking about is the internal organs. He’s talking about parts that are out of sight.
And he’s saying just because they’re out of sight doesn’t mean they should be out of mind because even though they’re out of sight and the temptation is to think, well, those things are unimportant., the reality is they actually are…they have special honor because there are way more important, right? I mean they don’t get the attention. I mean we put a lot of attention on ears. I mean we decorate them. Nobody decorates the small intestine, right? How gross would that be? Because this is the small intestine, you know what, they are? They’re unpresentable like nobody wants to walk around with their intestines. They’re unpresentable he says, but they’re treated with special modesty, but they’re also given greater honor because the reality is you can lose an ear, but you can’t lose your small intestine. You understand what he’s saying? He’s saying, and this is so important, the amount of attention that something attracts is no measure of the value that it actually has. That’s all he’s saying. The matter of attention something attracts is no measure of the value that it actually has.
No guy has ever looked at a woman and gone get a load of those intestines. But those intestines are indispensable, right? Just because something attracts attention, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any more valuable than anything else. He says all the parts are indispensable. And warning us to get a handle on this, he says this, ”But God has put the body together.” He has put all the parts together giving greater honor, meaning greater importance to the parts that lacked it. Nobody honors the internal organs, but they’re actually far more vital than most of the external ones. So that he did this for a reason. Listen, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. He says, ”God gave greater importance to the ones that are less obvious, ones that attract less attention so that there will be no division.” And we’re seeing a couple of things here.
Number one, we’re seeing something that’s really important about God’s heart, and here’s the way I would say it, God hates division in the Church. Because of course, he’s not just talking about the physical body, he’s talking about that as an analogy for the body of Christ. He says, yeah, there’s upfront parts, there’s roles that attract a lot of attention, but those parts aren’t inherently any more valuable than the ones that are operating behind the scenes. And God has arranged the body in the physical body, but he’s also arranged it in the body of the Church in the same way so that there would be no division because God hates division in the Church.
In fact, if you read the Bible carefully, what you’re gonna find consistently is God’s strongest words, his harshest criticism, his most alarming judgments honestly. They’re against not the people outside the Church, but apparently against the people inside the Church that are causing division in the Church. God calls sin what it is, no matter where it is, but honestly, the reality is we don’t expect redeemed behavior for unredeemed people outside the Church. But when people who put their faith in Christ come into the body of Christ and then begin to cause division, God gets really upset. God hates division in the Church.
The second thing we see here is that he tells us what we’re supposed to do to begin playing our part in keeping that division from happening and says he’s done this so there’ll be no division in the body, but that its part should have equal concern for each other. So you see, he’s given important to even the behind the scenes pieces so that we would have equal concern. And what he’s telling us is this, we do our part by having equal concern for each other. We do our part by having equal concern for each other. The moment we stop doing that, the moment we start valuing some people, some gifts, some perspectives, whatever it is more than do we do others, what happens is we create division. So we do our part by having equal concern for each other.
So he says, ”If one part suffers, every part suffers with it because we have equal concern for each other.” If one part is honored, every part rejoices with it because we have equal concern for each other. And he says, ”You are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it.” You know, English doesn’t have a plural “You” unless we go south, right? What he literally says here, now y’all are the body of Christ. All of you together, you’re all the body of Christ and each one of you individually is a part of it, but only a part of it, but a really important part of it because there are no unimportant parts of it. He says, ”You’re all the body of Christ.”
And what he’s saying very simply is this, he’s saying that the success of our mission, it depends on our ability to value the diversity of God’s gifts. If we’re gonna succeed in doing what God’s called us to do as a church, as a family, as a group of friends, anything, our ability to succeed in the mission that God has given us, it depends upon our ability to value the diversity of God’s gifts. To say that’s valuable and that’s valuable and that’s valuable and not that’s more valuable and that’s less valuable, none of that, our ability to succeed depends on our ability to give value to all the parts.
I’m a rock climber. And it’s interesting to me that, you know, when it comes to equipment for rock climbing, the rope is what typically attracts the attention. Like a lot of times people will find out that I rock climb and they go, ”Oh do you climb ropes.” And I’m like, ”Well no. Like, that’s like middle school gym stuff, right?” No, I climb rocks. But they’re like, oh, but you know, but you use ropes. Yeah. And then that’s… it’s just all the attention’s on the rope. But you know what’s interesting is like the rope all by itself is really kind of useless. Like, if I just start at the bottom with the rope tied to me and I climb up and that rope, doesn’t get clipped in anywhere. If I fall, all that rope’s gonna do is make a pretty design around my body. Okay. For the rope to do its work, there’s a whole bunch of other pieces of equipment that are involved. And as you climb up, what you’re looking for is opportunities to put pieces of, they’re called pro or protection to find places in the rock where you can add these things in so you can clip the rope to. And there’s a bunch of different kinds of pro I usually carry with me. These are some of the…my favorite ones, they’re called cams. They’re mechanical. And so what happens is you find a crack and you pull this and it kind of gets narrow, your stick it in the crack and you let it go and it starts to expand. And honestly the harder you pull in the other direction, the more it tries to expand. So it locks into place.
So I find a crack and I stick that in there. And then I clip the rope onto it and now suddenly the rope has some use. Till that point, it was just decoration. Now it’s actually got some use though. But you know, sometimes the cracks aren’t that big and so I have to have a variety of these kinds of things. You know, I’ve got slightly smaller ones and then really small. How many of you feel really comfortable like putting your life on that little guy, right? I’ve fallen on this one. I’m still here. It works. Sometimes you can’t do that though. Sometimes you have to use some other kinds. Like this is a passive caming device. The idea here is you put it in like this and as you pull down on it, it does that. It kind of rocks and locks into place. Sometimes that’s the only thing you can work on. Sometimes, honestly, you just get these tiny little cracks and no piece of gear works except these things called nuts. Yeah. How about that one? How about this? This is my favorite one. And the reason I like this one, this one saved my life actually. It’s bent that way because I fell on it. I just had this tiny little crack. I got this thing in there. I climbed three or four feet above it and I fell and this thing caught me. It helped me.
Now let me ask you a question, which is most important? The rope, this guy, this little guy? I mean you understand it. It’s a meaningless question, right? There’s no such thing as more important, most important. They’re all indispensable. And I have to value all of these equal to when, you know, when I start off, I don’t necessarily know what I’m gonna need to accomplish the mission. I mean there’s a very clear mission when it comes to rock climbing, right? It’s to get from the bottom of the cliff to the top and then back down in one piece.
And when I start off, I have to rack up going, I’m not sure exactly what I’m gonna encounter. And so I need a variety of things and I have equal value on these and these and these. See, I value meekly and that’s what allows me to succeed in the mission because when I get there and I need one piece, I’ve got it. That’s what Paul’s saying. He says, ”The success of our mission depends upon our ability to value the diversity of God’s gifts.” As a church, we have a much bigger vision, a much bigger mission than just getting to the top of something. Extending God’s influence in the world, bringing the lost to know the love of Christ, shining the light of the Gospel for all to see, that’s so much bigger a mission, but our ability to succeed in it depends on our ability to value the diversity of God’s gifts. And unfortunately, what often happens is rather than valuing diversity, diversity actually divides us. Instead of driving us towards our purpose, diversity often drives us away from each other, right? It’s such a sad reality, but it is a reality. Instead of going, oh, we’ve got all these different gifts. They can get us so much further than we’d ever get without all those gifts, what we find that the diversity actually drives us away from each other. And it happens politically, it happens generationally, it happens with the way we value some spiritual gifts over others. It happens with racial, I mean all those things. Rather than going, hey, wait, there’s a lot of here and when we put it all together, we’re so much better together. What will happen is that division often drives us apart, so what do we have to do? How do we get the promised blessing of diversity without the potential division?
Let me give you a couple of thoughts. The first one is this, is that we keep the mission front and center. You may wanna jot this one down. Because it’s true not just in the Church, it’s also true in your family. It’s true in your marriage, it’s true in your friend group. We keep the mission front and center. See the reason that the world can’t teach us about diversity in a way that really makes any difference is because the world doesn’t have the mission. And the mission is the lens that allows us to see the value in all the different pieces coming together, all the perspectives coming together, all the gifts coming together, all the people coming together. But without that mission, there’s no way to see the value of all those things. The world doesn’t have that mission, so it’s left going, well just appreciate the fact that you’re different from each other. Difference is hard, difference is complicated. Without the mission being front and center, difference is just gonna lead to division. We have to keep that mission front and center.
Second thing we do is this. We have to decide that we’re gonna refuse to confuse. We’re gonna refuse to confuse, and the world’s taught us some very confusing things about diversity and about differences and those kinds of things. And so honestly, sin has taught us different things and we’ve gotta set aside all that then we go, I’m gonna refuse to make those mistakes. I’m gonna refuse to confuse and let me give you a couple of examples.
Number one is we refuse to confuse visibility with value. We’re just gonna say no more. I’m not doing that anymore. Just because something’s more visible, just because something attracts more attention, I am not gonna say that it’s more valuable and I am not gonna seek after it if that’s my gift and I’m not gonna only elevate people and lift people up and value them if they have these particular gifts or perspectives with it. No, we’re gonna refuse to confuse visibility with value because they’re not the same thing. I mean, I have to check this out, so I mean it’s really easy. You come into a church and you think, well, you know the most important things that happen are the teaching and the worship leading, that’s just the most visible stuff that happens. It’s not the most important stuff.
Did you know many studies have confirmed that most people who visit a church decide whether or not they’re coming back in the first 10 minutes? Do you know that? If you’re new, you walk into Mission Hills, you know whether or not you’re gonna come back for week number two within the first 10 minutes of setting foot on this campus. And you need to understand that is before they’ve heard the message. It’s before they’ve even heard a worship song, but it’s not before somebody there smiled at them or ignored them. It’s not before somebody made them feel welcomed or made them feel like they didn’t belong. It’s not before somebody saw that they had kids and didn’t know where to go and walk them down to the kids’ ministry so they didn’t have to wander around confused. It’s not before any of that happens.
So let me ask you this, which is more important, the preaching, the worship leading or the guest services team? It’s a trick question. They’re all indispensable. We’ve gotta stop confusing visibility with value. Or how about this? We refuse to confuse comfortable with compelling. See, we have a tendency to value some things because we’re comfortable with them because and then comfort becomes like, you know, well, that’s the best way, right? You know, my way is always the best way, right? My level of comfort determines the level of value or something in there. No, not really. We got to stop doing that. We have refused to confuse comfortable with compelling.
I still can’t believe this is true, but it is true. There are thousands of churches across the United States of America, that are continuing to fight the worship wars. By which I mean, are we gonna just do hymns or are we gonna do modern worship? Like we’re past that as Mission Hills. I honestly, when I came here three years ago, I was blown away that as a church that was over 70 years old, successfully navigated that transition. The leadership and so many of the people went, you know what? If we’re gonna reach the next generation, we probably need to embrace some music that a lot of us actually don’t really like. It’s not comfortable, but we understand that it’s compelling and it’s part of reaching the next generation. I love the fact that Mission Hills made that transition. There are churches all over the country that are still fighting, they’re dividing over which songs to play and what style of worship and that is so sad. Because they’ve lost their mission. That’s the first thing that’s lost. They failed to keep the mission front and center. And they failed to understand that what I’m comfortable with isn’t necessarily what’s compelling.
I don’t get any complaints that I wear jeans when I preach. I should say I don’t get any complaints anymore. When I got here, I did. I got notes. In fact, my youngest daughter was given a note second week we were here. Somebody said, ”Give this to your dad.” She read it. Of course, she did. It wasn’t closed up and she was hopping mad. And I understood why when I saw because they basically said, hey, you’re the pastor of Mission Hills now, you can afford a nice pair of pants. I was like, actually, I paid way more from my jeans than any pair of dress pants that I’ve ever owned. They weren’t comfortable with it. But you understand that there’s a compelling reason why I typically wear jeans. I understand that we don’t live in a culture that understands church. They’re typically not churched anymore. That’s not the background that came up. In our particular part of the country, that’s not people’s common background experience. And so one of the big struggles is the people tend to go well, church and spirituality. That’s like an off to the side kind of thing and part of the reason I dress the way I do is to try to communicate from upfront. Christianity is an every moment of every day for everybody kind of a thing. There is no separation
The people who aren’t comfortable with that aren’t here anymore. I wouldn’t have shared that if this individual was still here. But they couldn’t get past thinking that comfortable was the same thing as compelling. They’re just not. You know, what kinds of things are we comfortable with and we tend to get grumpy when they don’t happen or we get grumpy when something else is happening and we’re not asking the question, you know, is my problem that that’s not comfortable is my problem that that’s not compelling to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We gotta refuse to confuse comfortable with compelling. We have to, we have to. Or we have to refuse to confuse opportunity with obstacle because sometimes we have opportunities to learn from each other in a way and we see them as actually obstacles instead of opportunities.
I mean we talk about even thinking about spiritual gifts, the section of 1 Corinthians, we’re gonna get into this really detailed next week. It’s a lot about spiritual gifts. And, you know, there are divisions in the Church over that. You’ve got what we already call the charismatic side of Christianity that tends to value certain things. Then you got the little bit more non-charismatic side than values other things. And rather than learning from each other, rather than seeing certain value in what other people are bringing to the table, their strengths, we tend to go, no, that’s an obstacle and we separate. You know, the charismatic side of things, honestly I would argue doesn’t value theology enough. And I say that as a seminary professor. I work with students from all different backgrounds and I think often the more charismatic side of Christianity doesn’t value theology as much and it sets them up to fall into heresy and doctrinal error that’s bad for the Church.
But you know what, the non-charismatic side doesn’t value worship even close to as enough as we should. I mean in worship, we are allowed to come in to the very presence of God Almighty, the Creator of the Universe, the flinger of the stars, and we’re told that he inhabits the praises of his people. And we often just kind of go through the motions when it comes to worship. That’s not true in the charismatic side, we can learn a lot in terms of worship in the charismatic side. And they can learn something from us in terms of theology so we could be better together. But instead, we see opportunity as obstacle. We got political divisions, we’ve got racial division.
You don’t understand. Sunday morning is still the most racially segregated hour of the week. You know, different races, different cultures, different ethnic backgrounds. Look, we have stuff to learn from each other, but instead of seeing it as an opportunity, we see as an obstacle and we have to refuse to make that confusion anymore. We took generational separation. Can I just be honest? I am so sick. I am so sick of being at pastors’ conferences and hearing this, millennials are driving me crazy. I’m so sick of that. People like, they love to say like, you know, millennials, they’re just, they think they have it all figured out. They’re so entitled. And I’m like, do you know where millennials learned that? Gen X. You wanna talk about a group of people that thinks they have it all figured out and is entitled, that is Gen X. And you know where we got it? Baby Boomers. I don’t think that’s a generation. I think it’s an age and stage thing honestly, but you know there’s genuine difference in some of the ways that millennials approach things and we need to learn from that, the Church will be weaker if we don’t. But instead, we see an opportunity as an obstacle and so if we’re gonna really get the promised blessings and benefits and not the potential divisions we have to go, I refused to confuse.
The third thing is this, we celebrate. We celebrate what moves us towards our mission. It doesn’t matter where it comes from, it doesn’t matter who it is. If it’s moving us forward and extending God’s influence in the world, we celebrate it. We don’t grumble about it, we don’t ignore it, we celebrate it. Let me ask you a couple of things. Number one, how can you put your mission front and center this week? Ask yourself that. How can I put my mission front and center this week? Because that lens is so important. Without it, difference will lead to division. With it, difference will propel us forward. Diversity will propel is forward. How can I put my mission front and center? And by the way, you might think, you know, in terms of not just of the Church, but in your marriage even, and you go, wait, my marriage doesn’t have a purpose. Yeah, that’s the problem. That’s the problem. Your marriage absolutely has a purpose.
When God made Adam, he said it is not good for the man to be alone. And that’s not just because he was gonna eat TV dinners. And he said he can’t succeed in his mission without the woman. And so he made literally an alongside one and together they move forward in mission. Your marriage is the bringing together of two different people so that together you can be better than you’d ever be individually. But most people don’t have any concept that their marriage is missional.
And so, of course, the differences create head budding and division and conflict. How do you put your mission? If you don’t know what your mission is, maybe that’s the conversation you have with your spouse. How are we looking to advance the cause of Christ together? How are we moving forward in mission together? We gotta keep our mission front and center. How are you gonna do that this week? You might also reflect on this question. I think this is important. Where am I most likely to be confused? Where am I most prone to getting confused? Is it visibility with value, is that something you struggle with? Maybe it’s comfortable with compelling tending to look at what we’re comfortable with and go, well, that’s the best thing. Or maybe it’s the confusing opportunity with an obstacle. That can create a lot of resistance. And so where are you most likely to be confusing? Just pray that God would move in your life in that area, teach you to refuse to confuse there.
And then the third one is this, who can I celebrate this week for being on mission with Jesus? Who can I celebrate? And honestly, the greatest power is when you can celebrate somebody who’s different than you, who has a different set of gifts but is using them to God’s glory. Who can you celebrate? Who can you encourage and go, I saw that and I was really encouraged by it myself. Good job, way to be on mission with Jesus. One of my favorite things to say to people, “Way to be on mission with Jesus.” And I love to say it to people who are doing things like I would never have thought to do that. I would be so bad at that, way to be on mission with Jesus. When we celebrate that we celebrate what we’ve become. Have we become what we celebrate? When we celebrate people on mission with Jesus, especially when they’re on mission in different ways than we were with different gifts, we’re moving towards thinking about diversity in a way that God does. Our success as a church depends on our ability to value the diversity of God’s gifts. Would you pray with me?
Jesus, thank you so much for your diverse gifts. Lord, in our heads we recognize that if everybody was exactly like us, if everybody had all the same gifts, whether natural or learned or spiritual, we wouldn’t get very far as a church in doing what we’re called to do. We wouldn’t be able to lift the Gospel very high. We wouldn’t be able to advance your cause very far. So, Lord, we thank you for these two tracks that you’ve given us unity and diversity and we ask that you would allow us to come to value the diversity of gifts that you’ve given in such a way that allows us to reap the benefits as a church, as families, as individuals, as friends, as coworkers, as neighbors.
And Lord, we ask for your forgiveness because we’ve all fallen short in this area, we’ve all come up short. We’ve seen obstacles where you called us to see opportunity. We put value in things that were valuable, but they were no more valuable than the other things that didn’t draw our attention. And we ask for your forgiveness of that. And for all the ways that we have mistaken being comfortable with what actually advances the cause of Christ, we ask for your forgiveness and we thank you that we have it in the blood of Christ. Teach us, lead us.
If you’re a part of the body of Christ, if you are one of those parts, if you’re a follower of Jesus, I’m gonna ask you to do something, would you just keep praying? Would you begin praying to the people around you, of other people watching online at all of our locations because I believe that all of our locations, there are people who are not part of the body of Christ and you know it, and I’d like to speak to you for just a moment. If you’re listening to this and you’re not a follower of Jesus, you have not put your faith, your trust in him, my guess is that you’re listening to this because God is doing something in your life. He’s drawing you to himself. And it may be that you’re resisting that and maybe one of the reasons you’ve resisted, maybe one of the reasons you haven’t said yes yet is that you have this honestly this false idea that saying yes to Jesus means you have to become one part of a cookie cutter operation and maybe you’ve looked at the Church and you’ve gone, I’m not like them.
Maybe the color of your skin is different than the color of the skin a lot of the people that sit on the chairs in that church. Maybe the things that drive your heart don’t feel like they’re on display in the Church. Maybe your politics don’t seem to match up with what you think is true in the Church. I want you to understand something. There’s greater true diversity in the Church than there is outside of it because in the Church, real diversity can be honored and valued because it moves us forward in an incredible mission that God’s called us to.
And if you’ve never said yes to Jesus because you feel like I don’t belong, I want you to understand that you do. That God’s custom designed you for a place in his body and a part in his mission. And he loves you so much, he sent his own Son to die for you, to pay for your rebellion, to pay for every wrong thing you’ve ever done. Three days later, he rose from the dead. He is right now, he’s offering you new life, he’s offering you forgiveness and he’s offering you a proper place in which everything that he’s made about you to be unique can actually be used for the purpose it was intended. And if you’re ready to join that mission, to join that family, if you’re ready to say yes to Jesus, to trust in what he’s done for you, would you just slip your hand up right now? That’s great. Awesome.
If you’re watching online, just click the button right below me. And wherever you are, you just had this conversation with God in your heart, you say this. Say, God, I’ve done wrong, I’ve sinned. I’m sorry. I’m gonna call it what it is. I need your forgiveness. Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross in my place. I believe you rose from the dead and I understand you’re offering me forgiveness, new life, a place in the family of God and a part in your mission. And you’ve customed designed me to play a special part. I wanna put my gifts and my abilities and everything that you’ve made me have, I wanna put them in your hands. So Jesus, right here, right now, I’m saying yes to you. Jesus, come into my life, be my Lord and my Savior. I trust you. I’m yours for now and forever. Amen.
That several people made that decision today in all of our campuses, can we just welcome them into the family of God? That’s awesome.
1 Corinthians 12:28-31 + 13:1-13
We continue looking at how we have been gifted and equipped by God to be the body of Christ. This week we look at how we have been presented with gifts we can use to help the church accomplish its mission. These gifts are indispensable, each in its own timing and working together as a whole.
1 Corinthians 14:1-20
We wrap up our series on how god has equipped + gifted us to be on mission for God. Join us for this week’s message on how we can pursue bringing our heart and mind together in worship focusing on making it a priority to work together to strengthen the whole church.