There is this interesting teaching in the Bible that people who are Christ followers are given a gift or two. These gifts, called ‘spiritual gifts’ are abilities that a person has that are to be used for the benefit of the rest of the Body, the linked-together community of Christ followers. In fact, these gifts are part of what make us all different, as different as hands and feet and elbows and noses.
The reason they are called gifts is that they aren’t something we have earned or made or anything. They are gifts. These aren’t necessarily helpful for gainful employment, and may not
show up in any other area of the person’s life other than for the good
of the group. Some people have the gift of mercy, of being able to care. Some have gifts of hospitality or teaching or wisdom or creative building or administration.
Yesterday, some of us were talking about the number of people in our congregation who need special care. Some have brain injuries, some have emotional injuries, some have physical challenges. I say with great joy, we are being trusted with a growing group of these people.
Here’s what surprised me as we were asking God how to best love our congregation: In the middle of what we call praying, I realized that anyone who identifies themselves as a Christ follower has at least one spiritual gift. This means that the guy who is developmentally challenged, who can’t reason beyond elementary school, that can’t find a job even with the help of the agency charged with that task-he has a spiritual gift and is needed, not just tolerated by, but needed by the Body.
In the case of this guy, I think his gift is encouragement.
I just was talking about this with an educator from our congregation who said, “so how do we help discover these gifts? Traditional inventories don’t work. Maybe, just like we watch a child to see what skills they have, we watch people to see what gifts they have.” And I think she’s right.
Too often, I think, we look at people who need special care as opportunities to show how loving we are, how caring we can be. In fact, we can get prideful about our humble service. But I’m thinking that it’s not about how loving we can be, it’s about how much we need to be loved by these people who need care.
I don’t know what this means, this challenge to be consistent with our theology of spiritual gifts. But I think it means we have to think more.
Oh. and pray much much more.
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