A Concert of Gifts

I have always been thrilled with the live presentation of an orchestra. It is all right in front of you. It is wonderful. It goes through the emotional spectrum. It is vulnerable. It must follow the lead of the Conductor. It performs pieces which often are old but which never lose their majesty or impact upon the heart. Recently we have been blessed watching the work of Andre Rieu and his orchestra on public television.

A friend once impressed us with the image of spiritual gifts operating in a Christian fellowship in concert. He suggested that an individual would be gifted by God in order to free up his associates for the exercise of their gifts. This outlook emphasizes the "togetherness" of the faith, the community focus of our experience in Christ. Remember, the Lord's Prayer starts with the words "Our Father..."

Regrettably so many of the visible North American ministries appear to emphasize self-development and self-actualization. Joel Osteen, for example, writes books which suggest how you can become a better person. I remember one title I saw once from Robert Schuller Sr. "The Be-Happy Attitudes". How did he ever get that out of the bracing beatitudes given by Jesus in Matthew 5? Like the old Coca-Cola commercial on the TV there is the suggestion that "things go better with Christ". Rather the message should be that all is darkness without Him.

2And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

3Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

5Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

6Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

7Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

8Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

9Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

10Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

12Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

If we are to operate in community, what should be the marching orders? Rub shoulders. Respect order. Look for the gaps in fulfilling service needs in the Body. Recognize that there must be a Conductor. Resist praise, spiritual pride and competitiveness. Listen carefully. Make allowance for "rests in the music". God often speaks most majestically when all is still. Give ear to the little player on piccolo or tambourine. Culture compassion rather than power. After rendering a service, remember that we are still "unprofitable servants". (Luke 17:7-10)

Remember the guideline of the old catechism:

"To glorify God and enjoy Him forever."


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