How do you feel about hearing the obvious? Sometimes, we can hear a spiritual truth so often that we can become immune to its power. It is easy to repeat basic religious beliefs in a way that leads to taking them for granted, or worse yet, becoming hardened and unresponsive. One of the challenges in this situation is to try to make our faith alive in the ears of the listeners.
In1 Corinthians, Paul faced the same problems outlined above. He tried to teach people basic Christian truths in a way that helped them awaken. Paul tried to convince his readers that they had received God’s grace, which can be defined as unmerited favor. So, the next issue concerns how God’s grace is evident in us. Paul says that we’ve been enriched through our faith and that itself is a sign of grace.
How does God’s grace enrich us? Paul suggests that God’s power means that we are not lacking any spiritual gift. And since we know that Paul wrote much about spiritual gifts, he seems to know what he is talking about. The bottom-line about spiritual gifts is that they are given to strengthen both the individual and the church, which is also known as the body of Christ.
Controversy generates when considering many spiritual gifts, including the dramatic ones such as healings and other miraculous events. However, we shouldn’t ignore the more subtle spiritual gifts of helps, discernment, administration, and a host of other, less flamboyant phenomena. The original intent of spiritual gifts was likely to build the foundation of the church in a strong manner. However, now that the church has been around for almost two-thousand years some question whether spiritual gifts are present and necessary.
Paul encouraged his Corinthian readers that God would sustain them until the end. God’s sustaining presence is a demonstration of power and promise. In other words, God meets our faithfulness with a spiritual presence that completes us and fulfills us. We can expect God to be with us despite challenges buffeting us to and fro.
Another conclusion we can draw from Paul’s writing is that we have much spiritual potential. In other words, we are not lackies! That is, we don’t lack anything other than that which we refuse to accept or develop. Often, we desire something only to be reminded that we aren’t doing our part to obtain it. Joy? Peace? Satisfaction? These and much more can remain elusive if we fail to awaken to what God can provide us. As children of faith, we have limitless possibilities. Equipped with spiritual gifts and bolstered by God’s strength and faithfulness, we can face the future and not be debilitated by fear, ignorance and anger. Indeed, we can be confident that God will help us realize the love and truth powering our faith.
–Reverend Larry Hoxey