Yesterday morning, when I was reading in the latter part of 1Corinthians 11, the words that jumped off the page were “when you come together.” Not because I had some profound insight concerning them but because they are repeated again and again. Five times in eighteen verses Paul uses the phrase. If you learn anything from the passage it’s that “coming together” was just what a local body of believers did. If you said you were part of the church at Corinth then people knew that, whatever else you did as a body, you at the very least were coming together. However, Paul says of these believers, “When you come together it is not for the better but for the worse” (12:17). And he proceeds to instruct them on how to come together in a way that is honoring to the LORD and beneficial for the body.
This morning, reading the first part of 1Corinthians 12, I’m reminded of how the body can come together for the common good.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
(1Corinthians 12:4-7 ESV)
No one should be busier at a Sunday morning gathering of saints than the Holy Spirit. When we gather to exalt the Son to the glory of the Father it is the Spirit who should be, in a manner of speaking, breaking a sweat as He enables the deployment of all the spiritual gifts. And after we’re done meeting and head home to every day living, when the body serves the body outside the building, then too the Spirit should be active as He powers these “varieties of gift.” No Sabbath rest for the Spirit it seems to me. Instead, active empowerment of what Jesus has graced to every believer (Note: EVERY BELIEVER). And all for the common good.
How we deprive the body of common good when we don’t show up. How we stifle the family’s growth when we are not contributing. How we miss out on knowing an encounter of the divine kind when we are not in a place or position to be the conduit of the Spirit’s power through the gifting given us. How we fail to know the touch of God when we cancel on the opportunity for Spirit gifted brothers and sisters to minister to us.
Hard for these gifts of the Spirit, given for the common good, to have an effect for the common good if we don’t come together.
I wonder if it would be different if we really believed what we say we believe . . . that a divine gracing has been “given to each one of us according to the measure of Christs gift” (Eph. 4:7). And that “all these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as He wills” (1Cor. 12:11). Beyond just the responsibility of the stewardship implied from having received a gift from Christ, what of the anticipation of seeing that gift energized by the Holy Spirit and the satisfaction of knowing God Himself has determined it for the common good.
I’m thinking the people of God need to be coming together more. I’m thinking that, as individuals, we miss out when we remove the opportunity for our Spirit powered gifts to flow through us and to others. I’m thinking the Bride of Christ misses out when members of the bridal party have gone AWOL and are MWA (missing without action).
For the common good. It’s our common calling. Enabled by anything but a common dynamic.
All because of grace. All for His glory.