TEACHING

GROW IN THE WORD~GROW IN FAITH

 

Jan 17, 2019
We are the Church: Diversity
 
We are the Church: Diversity
Transitions can be hard,but they can also be exciting. You may be aware that our Church Council is very actively working to hire a full-time Interim Pastor to help us through this transition. The organization we’re working with not only provides Interim Pastors, but also trains and coaches them to lead churches like  us through a process that will help us to work through our past, assess our present, and prepare for our future. I was involved in our last two Senior Pastor transitions, and I really look forward to having this kind of full-time support and an intentional process to guide us along the way. As we walktogether through this transition into the next season of life as First Baptist Church of Roseau, I’d like us to start by stepping back and taking a fresh look at how we are supposed to become the church that God is calling us to be, and to do the things that God is calling us to do. The fourthchapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is packed with insights toward answering those questions. The principles he provides are at the core of what it means to be the church, and what it means to join God in accomplishing His work in the world around us. If you have your Bible with you, please turn to Ephesians 4. Otherwise you’ll find the text on the back of the Notes Page in the Bulletin. just the first 16 verses.
(Read Ephesians 4:1-16)
 
These are the three key concepts that Paul is focusing on here: Diversity, Maturity, and Unity. In verses 1-6, Pauladdresses the church as a whole with a focus on unity. We’ll be looping back to that later this month. But beginning in verse 7 he’s speaking to each individual believer within the church about diversity in the Body of Christ.
So let’s take a deeper look at what Paul has to say about Diversity.
 
Who? Believers only but everybeliever What? “Grace” = special enablement for doing ministry (i.e. spiritual gifts as found in Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12, and possibly other characteristics) How? By Jesus according to His plans for us (one or more, whatever extent needed) Every gift is significant. The value of each gift is determined primarily by the extent to which it’s invested in the life of the body. These gifts are not personal possessions. Although they are given to individuals, they are intended to benefit the church body. When we use them for selfish purposes or fail to invest them for the benefit of the church, the church cannot fully become or do what God is calling us to. No one (except Jesus Himself) has been given all the gifts. And no one should try to do everything. Instead, we should learn to depend on each other, deferring to each other’s gifts, and pursuing God’s call together. When we spend too much time doing things outside our gifting we may be filling a role that God is calling someone else to fill, someone that He has gifted for that role. Everyone should do something, but no one should try to do everything.
Max Lucadosuggests that we should spend most of our time doing what we do best and enjoy most. Those things are the most likely to be aligned with the gifts, experiences, and other traits that God has given us. Not that we should never do things that aren’t our favorites! All of us need to do that. But our gifts and experiences are strong indicators of what God is likely calling us to do.
 
Here Paul is connecting Jesus’ distribution of gifts to a text very similar to Psalm 68:18, likely for the purpose of establishing Jesus’ valid authority to do so.
 
Here Paul is interpreting the text he referred to earlier, explaining that Jesus is the only One who descended from Heaven to Earth, and from Earth to the grave before ascending again to Earth and then on to Heaven. He’s essentially saying, “Jesus is the One. He is unique. He is above all. He is fully qualified to determine who should receive which gifts and how they should use them.”
We can trust that Jesus got it right. But, let’s be honest. Have you ever wished that you were gifted to do something that’s just not your thing? Maybe even felt a little jealous toward someone who’s especially good at it? Well, Paul does tell us in 1 Corinthians 12:31 that we should “eagerly desire the greater gifts” but he says this immediately after pointing out that none of those gifts has been given to everyone, implying that we should be content with and actively investing the gifts that Jesus has chosen to give us, not wasting our time being disappointed in what He knows is best for us and the church. Instead, we should focus on developing and investing the gifts we have for the greatest benefit of the church body.
 
Not only does Jesus give everybeliever at least one gift for ministry, He also gives the church a gift. He gives the church some individuals that He has specifically gifted for key leadership roles. Although these roles differ, the primary focus of all of these leaders is to equip other believers to effectively use their gifts in ways that will  accomplish the work that God is calling the church to do. In a sense, their focus is not to be on their own gifts but on their use of those gifts to develop and guide the investment of the gifts of others. Like a coach, their success is measured by their ability to help other people to be successful. Not every person with these gifts will necessarily serve in the official roles that we might expect would go along with those gifts. For example, not everyone with the gifts to be especially effective in evangelism will develop a ministry like Billy Graham or Louis Palau. And not everyone with the gifts to teach effectively will make a living as a full-time teacher. However, it is true that anyone who serves as a teacher should possess and develop the gifts necessary to teach effectively. As these leaders invest their gifts in the equipping of others who will then invest their gifts in the work of the church, the church will grow to become what God has called us to be, and the church will do what God has called the church to do. Now, it’s possible that all of this focus on “works of service” could be misunderstood as some kind of an effort to earn God’s favor. But, justa couple of chapters earlier, in Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul made it very clear that our salvation is in no way a resultof ourown efforts.
WatchNotesDownloadDateTitle
  • Jan 17, 2019We are the Church: Diversity
    Jan 17, 2019
    We are the Church: Diversity
     
    We are the Church: Diversity
    Transitions can be hard,but they can also be exciting. You may be aware that our Church Council is very actively working to hire a full-time Interim Pastor to help us through this transition. The organization we’re working with not only provides Interim Pastors, but also trains and coaches them to lead churches like  us through a process that will help us to work through our past, assess our present, and prepare for our future. I was involved in our last two Senior Pastor transitions, and I really look forward to having this kind of full-time support and an intentional process to guide us along the way. As we walktogether through this transition into the next season of life as First Baptist Church of Roseau, I’d like us to start by stepping back and taking a fresh look at how we are supposed to become the church that God is calling us to be, and to do the things that God is calling us to do. The fourthchapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is packed with insights toward answering those questions. The principles he provides are at the core of what it means to be the church, and what it means to join God in accomplishing His work in the world around us. If you have your Bible with you, please turn to Ephesians 4. Otherwise you’ll find the text on the back of the Notes Page in the Bulletin. just the first 16 verses.
    (Read Ephesians 4:1-16)
     
    These are the three key concepts that Paul is focusing on here: Diversity, Maturity, and Unity. In verses 1-6, Pauladdresses the church as a whole with a focus on unity. We’ll be looping back to that later this month. But beginning in verse 7 he’s speaking to each individual believer within the church about diversity in the Body of Christ.
    So let’s take a deeper look at what Paul has to say about Diversity.
     
    Who? Believers only but everybeliever What? “Grace” = special enablement for doing ministry (i.e. spiritual gifts as found in Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12, and possibly other characteristics) How? By Jesus according to His plans for us (one or more, whatever extent needed) Every gift is significant. The value of each gift is determined primarily by the extent to which it’s invested in the life of the body. These gifts are not personal possessions. Although they are given to individuals, they are intended to benefit the church body. When we use them for selfish purposes or fail to invest them for the benefit of the church, the church cannot fully become or do what God is calling us to. No one (except Jesus Himself) has been given all the gifts. And no one should try to do everything. Instead, we should learn to depend on each other, deferring to each other’s gifts, and pursuing God’s call together. When we spend too much time doing things outside our gifting we may be filling a role that God is calling someone else to fill, someone that He has gifted for that role. Everyone should do something, but no one should try to do everything.
    Max Lucadosuggests that we should spend most of our time doing what we do best and enjoy most. Those things are the most likely to be aligned with the gifts, experiences, and other traits that God has given us. Not that we should never do things that aren’t our favorites! All of us need to do that. But our gifts and experiences are strong indicators of what God is likely calling us to do.
     
    Here Paul is connecting Jesus’ distribution of gifts to a text very similar to Psalm 68:18, likely for the purpose of establishing Jesus’ valid authority to do so.
     
    Here Paul is interpreting the text he referred to earlier, explaining that Jesus is the only One who descended from Heaven to Earth, and from Earth to the grave before ascending again to Earth and then on to Heaven. He’s essentially saying, “Jesus is the One. He is unique. He is above all. He is fully qualified to determine who should receive which gifts and how they should use them.”
    We can trust that Jesus got it right. But, let’s be honest. Have you ever wished that you were gifted to do something that’s just not your thing? Maybe even felt a little jealous toward someone who’s especially good at it? Well, Paul does tell us in 1 Corinthians 12:31 that we should “eagerly desire the greater gifts” but he says this immediately after pointing out that none of those gifts has been given to everyone, implying that we should be content with and actively investing the gifts that Jesus has chosen to give us, not wasting our time being disappointed in what He knows is best for us and the church. Instead, we should focus on developing and investing the gifts we have for the greatest benefit of the church body.
     
    Not only does Jesus give everybeliever at least one gift for ministry, He also gives the church a gift. He gives the church some individuals that He has specifically gifted for key leadership roles. Although these roles differ, the primary focus of all of these leaders is to equip other believers to effectively use their gifts in ways that will  accomplish the work that God is calling the church to do. In a sense, their focus is not to be on their own gifts but on their use of those gifts to develop and guide the investment of the gifts of others. Like a coach, their success is measured by their ability to help other people to be successful. Not every person with these gifts will necessarily serve in the official roles that we might expect would go along with those gifts. For example, not everyone with the gifts to be especially effective in evangelism will develop a ministry like Billy Graham or Louis Palau. And not everyone with the gifts to teach effectively will make a living as a full-time teacher. However, it is true that anyone who serves as a teacher should possess and develop the gifts necessary to teach effectively. As these leaders invest their gifts in the equipping of others who will then invest their gifts in the work of the church, the church will grow to become what God has called us to be, and the church will do what God has called the church to do. Now, it’s possible that all of this focus on “works of service” could be misunderstood as some kind of an effort to earn God’s favor. But, justa couple of chapters earlier, in Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul made it very clear that our salvation is in no way a resultof ourown efforts.
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