Here's a fun post I wrote a couple weeks ago, not knowing my husband was preparing a sermon on the same passage. (:
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
1 Corinthians 12:7
Chad and I were recently invited to attend a football game at Florida State University. It was a great game from tailgating to the celebratory fight song at the end. I also learned how to properly do the tomahawk chop! Admittedly, I don't follow much football these days. I cannot speak knowledgeably about the players, coaches, or records of any team, even though it is the most common topic of conversation around my house during these months of the year. I do, however, understand the basics (certainly not the specifics) of football, and I can follow along well enough to enjoy the game. I even think I speak my husband's love language when I talk about football to him. Heehee!
I am a supporter of sports in general and of teams in particular because of the community and camaraderie it builds. A team is a group of people who have a unified goal for which they all work together to attain. So much about being on a team builds character qualities that are beneficial in life.
As I read through 1 Corinthians chapter 12 and considered Paul's words to this group of people, it reminded me a lot of a team. Because it is football season (American football, that is), I began to particularly consider a football team. See if this analogy helps with understanding this passage a bit.
All the players on a football team have a skill set, and each position on the team has a purpose. Because of theses two components, certain team members are assigned to certain positions. When each player does his job to the best of his ability, the team succeeds little by little. But if a player does not run the assigned route or block the assigned position, the team fails at the short-term goal and perhaps experiences a setback. Each individual player's role affects everyone else, and each role is important. The receiver needs the quarterback, and the quarterback needs the center. The kicker may not play as many minutes during the game, but his position is important because no one else on the team can perform his job as well as he can.
Consider how many young players enter the realm of football wanting to be the quarterback or the running back. They may even be discouraged to learn that not every player can be assigned to those roles nor is everyone capable of performing those tasks as adeptly as a specific few. Yet what would a quarterback or running back be able to accomplish without the offensive line? Likely very little.
Interestingly, though, each player must still have a few transferable skills. For instance, have you ever seen a lineman get the opportunity to intercept the ball on defense? It is so exciting! Even though his job is to tackle and block, he must still anticipate and respond to a football that is thrown or tipped in his direction. If he says, "It isn't my job to catch footballs" and watches as the ball bounces away, the team misses an opportunity for an interception and chance to score.
For just a minute, can we consider how football mimics the church? The Spirit of God gives different gifts and abilities and passions to each of us. He directs us into certain activities and roles. He empowers us toward tasks we never expected to be capable of. And the goal is the same for each of us: to honor God and to build up and care for the body of Christ (a.k.a. the church). Each individual believer performs their own tasks, fulfills their own position, all of which work together for the common goal of furthering the kingdom of God.
Can you imagine if everyone wanted to be the pastor? Or if no one served in the nursery? Or if everyone wanted to lead worship? Or if the person pouring coffee was unprepared for the task? AAAAAHHH! While coffee may not seem necessary for spiritual growth, it often provides an opportunity for the person with the gift of hospitality to be part of furthering the kingdom. And that's a great thing! Every follower of Christ has a spiritual gift, a desire of their heart, a skill set, a personality, and life experiences which set them up for a certain position on the team, a role in the church, a member of the body of Christ. And similar to the defensive lineman, we must all be prepared to share the love of God and the gospel of Christ regardless of our assigned position. We are one team with many players. We are one body with many parts.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 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? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 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, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12-27
What is your gift? What is your role? You may have to try out a few different positions to find it. Ask someone else for feedback on where they think your abilities and personalities would fit best. I hope you find your place in the body of Christ and then live it out with love and with all your heart.