Snapshots: Day 196
The Snapshot: “And Saul offered up the burnt offering.” (1 Sam 13:9) Well that sounds very spiritual. After all it was there in the Law. But the trouble was that Saul wasn’t a priest; Saul was going beyond his calling, trying to manipulate God by religious activity, apparently doing the right thing – but in the wrong way. I wonder how many of us ‘try to be religious’ or ‘try to be spiritual’ and go beyond our calling and gifting? I believe it is very common in leaders – it was in me once upon a time. We feel we ought to live up to people’s expectations and so we try to be all things to all people. Good shepherds sometimes try to be good preachers but fail abysmally. Good preachers try to be good prophets but fail abysmally. Let’s each be what we’re called to be – and that’s all.
Further Consideration: Possibly one of the most ignored passages of the New Testament is 1 Cor 12, all about us each being a part of the body of Christ, the church. The primary point that Paul makes is that we are all different. He clarifies that in Rom 12 where he again talks about the body: “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.” (v.6) i.e. we are what we are in this ‘body’ according to the nature of the grace that God has imparted to us when we turned to Christ. It comes in the form of spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12:4) or service that he calls us to (1 Cor 12:5), maybe even ministries to build up the rest of the church (1 Cor 14:12, Eph 4:11,12, Rom 12:6-8)
Now what is sad is that in very many churches these verses are never taught and therefore there is no expectation within the body of being able to move according to the grace God gives us. The result of this is that most people sit in the congregation expecting others to spoon-feed them and opening their mouths to receive is all that is required of them. Thus the local body never grows to, “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph 4:13) and it is not surprising that the church has such little impact on the modern world.
The other outworking of this failure is that we are so often left with one-man ministries and the local church expects him/her to do everything that is ‘spiritual’ (leaving the notices, handling the finances and arranging the flowers to the ‘laity’). That poor person becomes a Saul who, in the apparent absence of any other ministry turning up, feels called to do what they are not called to do. Perhaps we need to do a serious series of 1 Cor 12 applied to the life of the local church so that we can put these things right. But again, tragically, such leaders are wallowing in failure because God is not blessing them as a teacher / prophet / evangelist etc. etc. because they are drowned in the things they should not be doing because God has not gifted them accordingly. Much thought, prayer and change needed.