Note: this was published on the St. John blog page on Friday evening. It was to have been published on this blog earlier on Friday.
And Jesus gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,
We’ve managed to navigate the annual Thanksgiving meal and Day with all it’s required accoutrements. Turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, corn casserole, pecan pie – to name but a few. We struggled to watch the Cowboys lose to the Bills on TV as we played the Davis Game and then Mexican Train dominoes. Now comes the Lollipop Guild and soon Dorothy and her friends will “Follow the yellow brick road” and be off to see the wizard!
All this seems mere prelude to the real attraction for many people this weekend: Black Friday. Some stores are already open on Thanksgiving evening. I think I’ll pass on the Black Friday festivities. I hope, however, that local merchants and shoppers enjoy many great sales this morning. I’m sure some children’s Christmas happiness and many merchants’ bottom line are riding on this day.
God’s agenda is much more far-reaching than happy children on Christmas and merchants’ successful business endeavors. For apart from him the happiest of Christmases or the most successful of business efforts are empty joys and vain success.
God’s purpose in giving his gifts are not merely to give us financial success or happy holiday celebrations. His purpose is to build us up in the faith and to help us reach maturity in our Christian walk. He gives gifts so that the body of Christ is built up.
Three quick take-always flow from God’s gifts to us.
1. God desires that we grow in our maturity and faithfulness, but is not content simply to wish it for us. He gives gifts so that we are able to grow in our faith.
2. This is corporate desire and purpose. If we absent ourselves from other brothers and sisters in Christ, we are short-circuiting God’s purposes and will. The Body of Christ is a collection of people with different gifts and functions. We need each other in order to work together.
3. There are forces at work against God’s purposes and plans. There is danger in. God grounds us in fellowship with one another.
There are many today who criticize the Christian Church. Some say that the world would love Jesus, but not his people. This is a false dichotomy. The body of Christ is the true and great hope for a lost world. The more we grow up into the head, the greater impact for good we will have. We similarly cannot do this alone. So I’m all for building up the body of Christ and working together in that body for God’s glory.