January 25, 2010

To live is Christ — with every part of me

Yesterday’s experience at church challenged me and filled my heart with worship. The preacher showed how God shapes His people to serve Him. Everything about each Christian is part of His plan that we might be His servants.

He used an acrostic, SPENT, to help his listeners remember that we are uniquely equipped.

S stands for spiritual gifts. Romans 12:6 says, “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith.” He used other verses to show that every Christian has been given at least one spiritual gift, not for ourselves, but to serve others.

P stands for passion. Using 1 Corinthians 3:5-6, he did a little skit to show how Paul and Apollos may have talked about what each considered their passion for serving. I can readily identify with the variety in God’s family concerning the desire to do things for God. Besides, the world is full of needs. No one person is able to bear the burden for all of them so “God gives us the desires of our hearts” (Psalm 37:4) in a variety of ways to cover those needs.

E is about experience. From Philippians 1:19 and other Bible verses, the preacher illustrated how God uses our experiences with Him throughout our lives to shape how we think and give us confidence in doing His will.

N is for natural talents, things we were born with like art, music, skill with numbers, athletics, even talkativeness. (See Exodus 31:2-5) These are also part of God’s plan in making me into the person He wants me to be.

T stands for temperament, my personality. He uses introverts one way, extroverts another. Am I flexible, consistent, level-headed, emotional, quiet, talkative? All of what makes me who I am is part of God’s plan. Psalm 139 is all about how God knew me before I was born, encouraging me in accepting who I am.

A sermon like this is hard for a person my age. I have been a Christian for a long time, yet have regrets and things I wish I could do over. Also, some of the examples in the sermon made me feel as if I was too old to be involved in anything major. This message was a big challenge.

Yet it was also encouraging because the words never made anyone feel left out or unimportant. Each believer is part of what God is doing, from parking attendants to those who clean up after coffee is served. I don’t have to write a hundred books or disciple dozens of new Christians. I just have to do what God asks me to do, and realize that He has shaped me to do it. This means accepting who I am, what I have gone through so far, and even accepting that He is using the mistakes that I’ve made as part of His construction process.

This is directly related to the verse that again is given for today’s devotional reading. God has equipped me so that I might be able to . . .  

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)
I’m not able to bear all the burdens of everyone, but there will always be a few areas where I can be of service because of the way God has SPENT time, effort, and the power of His Holy Spirit shaping my life.

The most fascinating part of this message was not just that it builds confidence regarding obedience, but it left both my husband and me in awe of God. As the words sunk into our hearts, we thought of all the permutations and combinations of those five areas in individual lives, then multiplied that by the millions who follow Christ. What an amazing God — He uniquely equips every single person to be part of His plan for this world.

For me, the practical part is very simple. To live is Christ means accepting that He has SPENT so much, including the life of His Son, to make me what I am. All I need to do is let Him direct the use of it in service to Him.

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