How can I serve?

This discussion was shared at our second 2014 team meeting on April 7.

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. … Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. —1 Corinthians 12:18-20, 27

We’ve heard the analogy of the body of Christ many times before—the hands, feet, arms, collarbone, kneecaps, toenails, etc. It is God’s intention, and a wonderful thing when it happens, for us to all bond together to function as a unified, complex machine. A group of people who, knowing their roles and functions, use their strengths to serve God and others in the ways Jesus taught us. At REUNION, we call it helping people find their way back to God.

But how many of us actually know what our roles are? And, as we prepare for our trip to the Dominican Republic, how can we not only learn what our roles are, but have confidence enough to apply them, both in our everyday lives and in our time in the DR?

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to take a few minutes to assess your spiritual gifts. Maybe you’ve thought about this before, maybe you haven’t. Either way, it’s a helpful exercise to try to understand where you can fit into the larger body of the church. REUNION’s LifeMAP course utilizes a spiritual gifts inventory that helps hone in on your God-given gifts and abilities. In a way, it’s a tool to discover your DNA. Maybe you’ve been given the gift of administration, or discernment, or serving. Take 15 minutes and fill it out. I’ll wait here.

Are the answers surprising? Did you know them all along?

Three interesting truths came out of this assessment for me.

God is the source of these gifts.

For me, part of the helpfulness of LifeMAP was rediscovering some gifts I hadn’t thought about in a while, but remembered as gifts that I had used earlier in life. While I’m a completely different person now than I was when I was 12 years old, there are some fundamentals that have never changed. Like my love for music (music), or my tendency to find optimism and belief in the face of negative circumstances (encouragement), or my enjoyment of painting, sketching, and digital art (creative communication). I’ve used these gifts at some points in my life, and have completely not exercised them in others. But as I think about the core of who I am, each of these gifts plays a central role in my character and DNA. Because of this, I truly see them as having a source in God.

You don’t have to have every gift to make a difference.

Thank God. We’re all in this together, people! God wants to use us all in our own unique ways, and that looks different from one person to the next. But different isn’t a negative. Look for ways to learn and appreciate what each other’s gifts are. And, rather than selfishly stealing God’s creativity in working through others, try to nurture and empower people to use their gifts in meaningful ways.

We exist with these gifts, but in order to truly live, we must put them in action.

It’s the James thing—faith versus works. In our postmodern society, we see works as very important to our faith. That’s great! Just remember works should never replace God’s grace, forgiveness, and redemption through Jesus. There’s nothing we can do to earn that. That’s the beauty of the Christian life. With that in mind, use your gifts! Use them for good. Use them daily. Ask God to present new ways for you to use them. He is creative in how he wants to use your gifts. Ask God the question, “How can I serve?”

The DR trip is a reminder that we’re all in this together, and we are to function as the body of Christ. Remember the type of work we do while we’re there—using your vocational skills in the medical clinic, construction, or other service projects that may come up; encouraging Pastor Luis and his family; singing to God songs of love and truth; interpreting; serving children food and loving them; evangelizing throughout the communities we visit; the list goes on. God will use you on this trip. Ask him for the boldness and courage to keep your eyes open for opportunities to make that happen. He is faithful.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. —Romans 12:1-12

QUESTION: What are your gifts? How can you use them in your daily life to serve God?