Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Keep Your Appointment

"Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts."

(I Corinthians 12:27-31a NIV)

This is an interesting passage for those of cessationist bent. The ordinals used in this passage can be taken as an order of rank (of importance or even authority), or as a description of the timing of expression. The mention of "greater" in the next to the last verse could be seen as requiring the ordinals to be interpreted as also ranking importance or greatness, but for me, the "thens" seal the deal-- for they most definitely introduce the idea of sequence or timing into the list. If this roster of gifts puts them into sequence, then the issue being addressed is their development and extension, not their comparative value. Paul is trying to help eager Corinthians understand not only the what, but the how and the when of ministry gifts. Notice in the sequence where the miraculous of varying sorts falls. Throughout, but incredibly enough, at the end as well, after the eruption of teachers. Paul says that the body starts with the ministry of an apostle, and as that body grows, up rise prophets, and as it continues to grow then arise teachers, and as things continue to expand then all kind of gifts... and the miraculous was intended to be present from start to finish!

That's cool enough in my mind, but here's the cherry on top: whereas we have been concentrating on leadership gifts in this series of posts, this passage doesn't restrict it's scope to them as does Ephesians 4. Leadership is part of the body, but so too are the lead. Each of us is part, each of us has gifting to serve by and these are assigned by God. Paul called these appointments. Just as a finger on your body wouldn't do any good attached to your elbow, so also God has the prerogative of placing us in the spot he knows we belong. I must admit, I've grown tired of both the church shoppers and the church marketers of our day. What consumer benefits a church might offer has nothing at all to do with divine appointment. What business does any leader have holding out a carrot trying to entice believers to make a decision about where they belong on a basis other than God's appointment?

So, grow where God sprouts you, stay unless God moves you. Embrace your giftings, and rise into whatever God is making you for the benefit of the body. God doesn't run by our clocks, and yet he's always on time, and being a perfectionist in all he does, he expects us to keep our appointments.


Anonymous said...

this certainly leaves me with much to pray about. i want to percieve God's direction for me. after all, i am the servant. no one wants a body that is not healthy where a part is not working...and the body of Christ needs all parts to be listing to the head and working correctly. i have been looking around...goofing off...instead of paying attention to what i am told to do. always back to the basics. can't run on an empty tank no stearing.

Heanous said...

I too have been searching. Not so much for my place because I do serve where I can within my church but more so for maturity. I agree with the basics though. When life gets confusing I often retreat to the foundational truths for inspiration and reassurance. I'm out of my league with these five positions. The closest I may come is a teacher but none the less I am happy to be serving as I am enabled.

SLW said...

If we ask God to lead us, he will, but for it to make a difference we'll have to perseveringly, patiently act on that leading. All that any of us can do in regard to God's appointment is to find it, fit in it, and function.

God bless you, Nancy, with a full tank and His hands on the wheel.

SLW said...

Don't ever sell yourself short, my friend. Your church appreciates your service, and there is no telling yet what God will raise you up to be and do. In the meantime, doing what he asks of us today is all that He will ever ask of us.

Blessings, bro.

Heanous said...

Now you are the one being too kind. I am content to do what I am asked to do in church. You are right, who knows but the Lord what He will have me doing in the future. Hence my desire for a closer more mature relationship with Him so that I will be prepared for the task. Whatever His will is for me I will gladly take it.

Anonymous said...

God bless you also. I went shopping for a chruch to trying to find the chruch and found that what i was looking for was within me the whole time! The church is in me. God will lead me and i pray to follow His lead. God loves you so much brother S. We are being grown and shaped. It is wonderful to see it happen. Praise be to God. Our God. May God's love flow through you and may you find His abundant peace in His company. Breath in the sweet Holy Spirit and let your heart sing!