After a tough chapter of challenging the Corinthians about their (and our) selfishness, Paul begins to share why it is so important to share the Lord’s Supper in perfect unity:
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 12:1-3).
Just as there were physical distractions of selfish people at the Lord’s Supper, Paul is turning their attention to serious spiritual distractions that were present in the church at Corinth and can be present in your church today. It is not hard for us to imagine someone testifying during the serving of communion, saying, “Jesus is Lord!” We have all felt the presence of the Holy Spirit during this time. It is what rejuvenates our faith and keeps us going.
But have we ever heard someone exclaim, “Jesus is cursed” or “Jesus is evil”? Probably not, but sometimes we can feel Satan distracting us with spiritual attack at that moment. Paul makes it clear that a line must be drawn – when a pastor leads the ritual in the name of Jesus, he and we are brought into the presence of the Holy Spirit, all together as one body, in perfect unity:
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Cor 12:4-7).
Each of us is unique, having been endowed with spiritual gifts and with modes of service in the church. This is what a mentor of mine many years ago used to call our “richness of mix.” I love that. But our gifts do not make one person any higher in the eyes of God than another, because we are gifted by the same Lord and empowered by the same God. This sounds so obvious, but when we encounter disunity in the church, it often has to do with conflicts between gifted people wielding their own will rather than submitting to God’s will through prayer.
“For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues” (1 Cor 12:8-10).
Every church where it is said that “Jesus is Lord” has a plethora of spiritual gifts! The churches that grow and thrive recognize and celebrate that their power is measured by spreading the Gospel together as one body and does not come from any individual person or clique of persons in the church:
“All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills” (1 Cor 12:11).
This focus on the one and same Spirit is the theme of Chapters 12 through 14, one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible. So, just as there is one blog but many parts, we tie this series together under the heading of “One Body, Many Members” just as Paul does.
For now, just take a moment to thank the Lord for the spiritual gifts he has given you personally, even if you are not yet sure what they are. Keep repeating “Jesus is Lord!” This simple declaration makes available to you all the power of the Spirit, a power that is mighty indeed.
And hurry back for Part 2!