August 15, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (1 Corinthians 12)

Submitted by Ulia K. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

1 Corinthians 12:2-3

  • What are some mute idols that influence and lead people astray today?

Examples of mute idols are the idea of a comfortable and cozy life, built up through money and possessions, protecting yourself and your nuclear family from any threat or danger, even the rightful claims of God; a boundless, pleasure-seeking life that promises transcendence, happiness, satisfaction; the happiness and contentment promised through the prestige, power, security of an advanced and successful career, able to command others under you.

It’s these mute idols that promise something–happiness, security, transcendence, peace–they don’t speak to you, they cannot relate with you, but people worship them thinking they’ll give what they want.

  • According to vv. 2-3, Paul describes a pagan as someone following mute idols and a Christian as someone who can say, “Jesus is Lord.”  Is there evidence of this kind of fundamental difference between my life and that of a pagan?  Does my life back up my confession that “Jesus is Lord?”

Even as a Christian, even as someone who confesses that Jesus is Lord, I can see ways in which I still follow mute idols.  When I don’t want to admit to some wrongdoing, to some hidden sin, then I follow the mute idol of image maintenance, believing that keeping up an image will make me happier.  When I opt not to have a difficult conversation with someone because I don’t want to rock the boat, provoke trouble and a messy situation, so at the cost of speaking truth in love to deepen a relationship I care about, I prefer to follow the mute idol of my emotional comfort because it promises immediate comfort, no emotional disturbance.

If Jesus is my Lord, then I would readily acknowledge my sins in confession; I have no image to maintain–for myself, before others, before him–because he has already shown me I’m a sinner he died to save, and I can be free to be honest about who I am.  With Jesus as my Lord, I would place a high priority on speaking truth in love to those I care about for their sake, and not maintain a forced I’m-OK-you’re-OK complacency.  With Jesus as my Lord, I would seek to love and obey God first and entrust my child to his care.

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

  • Why does Apostle Paul emphasize that the different kinds of gifts, service and working are all from the “same Spirit,” the “same Lord,” and the “same God?”  Why does it follow that there is no basis for any superiority or inferiority complex within the church?

Apostle Paul emphasizes that different gifts, service and working are all from the same Spirit, Lord, and God because the Corinthian Christians were divisive over what kinds of spiritual gifts they had by placing more importance on certain gifts than others.  But he says that kind of competitive, superior/inferior spirit is totally off because it’s “the same God who empowers them all” (v.6), “to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (v.7), “all these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills” (v.11).  It is the same God who has gifted us, the same God who has allocated those gifts to us according to his will, the same God who has given us these gifts for the purpose of the common good.  So earlier in 1 Corinthians 5.7, Apostle Paul says, “What do you have that you did not receive?  If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?”

  • What are the spiritual gifts that God has given me?  How can I fully use them “for the common good” (v. 7)?

Something I’m always thankful for and that I’m aware of as a great privilege is the simple fact that I have a healthy, able body.  I rarely get sick, I don’t have carpal tunnel, I don’t have back problems, I’m relatively strong.  I’m aware that this gift of serving is something precious God has given to me that I can use “for the common good.”  I can lift things for others, even type for others, I can stay up late for a night taking care of urgent things without being too drained the next day.  Physically I can be fully available to help others as needed.

1 Corinthians 12:12-27

  • Reflect on the fact that individual Christians are called to unite to form the body of Christ—i.e., to be Christ to the world today.  What is the personal implication of this truth on my life in terms of how I view myself, conduct my life, and how I regard and value other believers God has placed in the church with me?

It’s an awesome truth that the church is the body of Christ.  This truth should squash any notion of that “little old me” syndrome that thinks my presence doesn’t make a difference, and instead gives me a deep sense of worth, identity and purpose; like the commentary says, it is my “supreme glory” to be “part of the body of Christ on earth.”  It is an awesome truth that God would take sinners, reverse his rightful judgment and wrath on our lives, and instead ennoble us by calling us his body on earth.  This truth helps to determine my day to day choices–what I spend time on, what I spend money on–because I can use what God has given me to build up the church and do kingdom work.  This truth also shows me the importance of each individual church members, the unity I’m called to have with them, as we together are to be the body of Christ in the world.

I’m really excited as we anticipate the Fall semester.  In our church, each of us working together to be body of Christ is how we’re ever able to help all our ministries welcome a new crop of people every Fall.  Each of our members working hard together towards the common purpose of being the body of Christ on earth.

1 Corinthians 12:14-20

  • What is the attitude of someone who says, “Because I am not _______, I do not belong to the body?” 

This attitude is very self-centered and lazy.  A person who says something like this discredits all the “functions” he does have that he can use to build up the body of Christ, the ways he can experience freedom from self and encouragement as he sees others give their strengths wholeheartedly to the body.

  • Given that “God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be” (v. 18), have I embraced my part in the body of Christ?   

Now that I’m older, God has cleansed my heart of a lot of my “Because I am not ___, I do not belong to the body” attitude, the ways I would envy others’ personality traits and feel sorry for myself that I’m not more ___.  I’ve grown to accept a lot more what my strengths are and how I can fulfill my function in the body, as well as others’ strengths and see how they fill so much of my lack, and experience freedom from myself and strengthening as we together try to be that properly functioning body to do God’s kingdom work.

Personal Prayer

Dear God, Thank you for the church, that you have given us such a high calling to be your body on earth.  Thank you that you have placed me in the body where I’ve been able to experience freedom from my self-centered ways, encouragement from others’ strengths, and the joy of working hard together for a common purpose.  I pray that the preciousness of being a part of the church would continue to be a source of strength and protection for me against following “mute idols” in my life.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Submitted by Chul K. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

1 Corinthians 12:2-3

  • What are some mute idols that influence and lead people astray today?

They include money, fame, vanity and ungrounded messages that are communicated through popular media and social culture.

  • According to vv. 2-3, Paul describes a pagan as someone following mute idols and a Christian as someone who can say, “Jesus is Lord.”  Is there evidence of this kind of fundamental difference between my life and that of a pagan?  Does my life back up my confession that “Jesus is Lord?”

Yes, I see clear difference in my life. Someone following mute idols are forever chasing after his dreams that are illusory. When I say, “Jesus is my Lord,” this means that I try to listen to what Jesus has to say to every aspect of my life. I don’t live my life just following my own instinctive desires, advice from people or influence from media. My ultimate authority is the word of God and I value advice and exhortation from people who have the same source of authority as I do. However, I have to admit that I feel subtle, constant influence from the messages by media and built-in social pressure from my workplace.  This is why I need God’s word everyday.

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

  • Why does Apostle Paul emphasize that the different kinds of gifts, service and working are all from the “same Spirit,” the “same Lord,” and the “same God?”  Why does it follow that there is no basis for any superiority or inferiority complex within the church?

The same God dispensed all these different spiritual gifts to his people in his church for us to accomplish his salvation plan. Given the purpose of all these gifts is to accomplish God’s salvation plan through his church, there is no reason why we should be concerned about who has what gift and go through a pendulum swinging from a sense of superiority to inferiority complex. I should remember this one truth that it is all about God and his kingdom and not about me. These gifts are for his kingdom work, not for me to feel good or bad about myself.

  • What are the spiritual gifts that God has given me?  How can I fully use them “for the common good” (v. 7)?

God has given me the gift of teaching and the gift of prayer. Looking back in the past, I realized how much God has invested his people in my life for me to appreciate the word of God more deeply and experience the joy and excitement of studying God’s word. I must steward these gifts and use them so that others will learn and understand the word of God. Also, I must try to go deeper in my prayer in which I lift up all of the common concerns in our church as well as people whom God entrusted to me.

1 Corinthians 12:12-27

“‘You,’ he says, ‘are the body of Christ.’  There is tremendous thought here.  Christ is no longer in this world in the body; therefore if he wants a task done within the world he has to find a man to do it.  […]  Literally, we have to be the body of Christ, hands to do his work, feet to run upon his errands, a voice to speak for him.  […]  Here is the supreme glory of the Christian man–he is part of the body of Christ upon earth.” [William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians, Daily Study Bible Commentary (Philadelphia, PN: Westminster Press, 1975) 113-114.]

·      Reflect on the fact that individual Christians are called to unite to form the body of Christ—i.e., to be Christ to the world today.  What is the personal implication of this truth on my life in terms of how I view myself, conduct my life, and how I regard and value other believers God has placed in the church with me?

It is amazing truth that indeed church is the body of Christ and God decided to accomplish his plan through his church–his people. God wants to save some people through his specific people at specific time and place. Though it seems a daunting task to me, when I remember the truth that I am not doing this task alone, I am doing my part of God’s work while all the other brothers and sisters in our church do their parts and together, we may be able to finish God’s salvation plan.  As Apostle Paul put it, we may be all things to all people so that we may save some. Of course, God saves these people. But He saves these people through us. In this regard, I must take my life seriously that I must be extremely careful about my conducts, speech, the way I live my daily life and the way I spend my time since my life is meant to be Jesus’ hands and feet to advance God’s kingdom. Of course, I can’t do this by myself. My lack in character and competence is so glaring that there is no way I can make this happen. This is why God has established his church in which I find many brothers and sisters who share the same heart and mind towards God’s kingdom work and we can work together to accomplish his will. I absolutely need them and they need me, too. Looking at our church, I thank God for many different ways we bring the gospel to people at different ages and background. Joyland and impact ministry outreached our children.  Element and Inter-high ministries cover youth, and college ministry covers college students. And we have ministries for outreaching international students/visiting scholars, working young adults, and the elderly. I can’t do all these by myself. And one ministry group can’t do all these, either. Because of other ministries in our church, because of many brothers and sisters in these ministries, we as a church, can save some whom God has in his mind. Who is equal to such task? Only God’s church can do this. When I mediate upon this mystery of God’s church and the way God saves people through church, my appreciation and gratitude towards brothers and sisters in our church grows.

“So Paul draws a picture of the unity which should exist inside the Church if it is to fulfill its proper function.  A body is healthy and efficient only when each part is functioning perfectly.  The parts of the body are not jealous of each other and do not covet each other’s functions.” [William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians, Daily Study Bible Commentary (Philadelphia, PN: Westminster Press, 1975) 113-114.]

  • What is the attitude of someone who says, “Because I am not _______, I do not belong to the body?” 

It is a self-centered and narcissistic attitude towards God’s kingdom work. This person sees God’s work as a means of boosting his/her ego and his/her sense of belongingness is not based on loving relationship or proper understanding upon the principle of God’s church, but based on merits and performance. This is far from what the Bible teaches about the body of Christ.

  • Given that “God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be” (v. 18), have I embraced my part in the body of Christ?   

Yes, I have embraced my part in the body of Christ. Though I don’t have a lot of gifts, or youthful energy, I still have my part in the body of Christ to which I should be faithful. One thing which is clear to me is that I must mature as a shepherd whose heart and concern are always with the people God has entrusted to me.  I must be a faithful shepherd who diligently care for God’s flock. It does not matter how I feel about my qualification and adequacy as a shepherd. This is God-given role in his church for me and I must be faithful in carrying out this part.

Personal Prayer

Father God, thank you so much for teaching me once again about the amazing mystery of your church–how we are all lacking in many areas of our lives, yet when we faithfully exercise our gifts that you dispensed.  We, as a church, can be God’s hands and feet for this lost world. I will remember this important truth all the time–what we are doing is God’s work and this is God’s church, it is not about you and me, it is about God and his kingdom work. Please help me to be faithful in taking a good care of your flocks. Some of them are weak, some of them are getting astray and others need a lot of encouragement and guidance.  Please help me to be a good shepherd like Jesus who is willing to lay down his life for his sheep. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Submitted by Karen L. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

1 Corinthians 12

 ·      Why does Apostle Paul emphasize that the different kinds of gifts, service and working are all from the “same Spirit,” the “same Lord,” and the “same God?”  Why does it follow that there is no basis for any superiority or inferiority complex within the church?

Apostle Paul emphasizes that the different kinds of gifts, service and working are all from the “same Spirit,” the “same Lord,” and the “same God” because it’s so natural for the Corinthians and for all of us to evaluate the things that we can do or the talents that we possess in the worldly way–the more gifts we possess, the more service we are a part of, the more activities we are involved in, combining with how visible we are through them, the better we are than someone who has less or does less or less visible.

Unless we see that it’s the “same Spirit,” the “same Lord,” and the “same God” that has “apportion to each one individually as he wills,” and we have received these things from God with the purpose of building up His own Body, we will start comparing ourselves to others and can therefore feel proud or insecure.  We’re reminded through this passage that it is God who decides what and how much to give each person, so that no one should feel superior or inferior based on his positions/talents/abilities.

  • What are the spiritual gifts that God has given me?  How can I fully use them “for the common good” (v. 7)?

I have experienced that as I give my all to just do whatever it takes to love the people God has entrusted to me, God enables me and I end up developing gifts and abilities that I didn’t have before.  At one point, because I have musical abilities, I was always involved in praise band, singing, special music, and etc.  But, as I accepted tasks that needed skills that I didn’t have and just be committed to meeting whatever needs God brought before me, I found myself becoming better at the things that I wasn’t so good at and was afraid to do and not only so, I experienced my heart and capacity growing.  I also experienced my love and appreciation for the Body of Christ increasing as I saw how the body of Christ comes together to help one another out, with a deep desire to do whatever to build up the Church so that God will be glorified.

1 Corinthians 12:12-27

“‘You,’ he says, ‘are the body of Christ.’  There is tremendous thought here.  Christ is no longer in this world in the body; therefore if he wants a task done within the world he has to find a man to do it.  […]  Literally, we have to be the body of Christ, hands to do his work, feet to run upon his errands, a voice to speak for him.  […]  Here is the supreme glory of the Christian man–he is part of the body of Christ upon earth.” [William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians, Daily Study Bible Commentary (Philadelphia, PN: Westminster Press, 1975) 113-114.]

• Reflect on the fact that individual Christians are called to unite to form the body of Christ—i.e., to be Christ to the world today. What is the personal implication of this truth on my life in terms of how I view myself, conduct my life, and how I regard and value other believers God has placed in the church with me?

As I think about how Jesus is no longer in the world, but that He has left His mission to us, to the church, to be His hands and feet and to show the world the love of the Father, I get overwhelmed with a sense of privilege but also a tremendous sense of burden as I see the depth of my own sinfulness and limitation and also that of others. The call “to be Christ to the world today” just seems so impossible. However, as all of us, each individually was touched by God’s grace and responds in his commitment to love and honor God in his life, come together, God’s power is displayed and His presence is felt amongst us. This means that first and foremost I have to be connected and be relating to God. I cannot ride on the momentum of the ministry or depend on others’ convictions. I have to take ownership of my own spiritual growth. I also have to see that I’m connected to the rest of the Body and that my own personal sins affect the whole church. My insecurity, passivity, and pessimism do not just affect me, but they can dampen the whole ministry. My fear and desire to hold back do not just impact me, but also those around me. My faith also has a way to not just strengthen me, but also those around me. During the Fall season, as we’re engaged in the biggest outreach effort of the year, I always get inspired and amazed to see the whole church coming together, with one single purpose, to bring the lost children back to our Father. I’m thankful that I’m surrounded by brothers and sisters in this church who don’t bail out when things get tough and continue to trust in God to provide and continue to honor God in their lives as best as they know how. When the world tells us to protect and preserve ourselves, to only love our loved ones with the limited resources we have. I’m thankful that I can experience the power of the gospel coming alive as we commit to serve God together. I feel so grateful to God that I not only can be a part of this Body where I have experienced God’s love and power in my personal life, but I also feel so honored that I could be “Christ” to the world as I commit to struggle with my sins and also commit to be faithful at wherever God has placed us along with the rest of the church.

·      Reflect on the fact that individual Christians are called to unite to form the body of Christ—i.e., to be Christ to the world today.  What is the personal implication of this truth on my life in terms of how I view myself, conduct my life, and how I regard and value other believers God has placed in the church with me?

As I think about how Jesus is no longer in the world, but that He has left His mission to us, to the church, to be His hands and feet and to show the world the love of the Father, I get overwhelmed with a sense of privilege but also a tremendous sense of burden as I see the depth of my own sinfulness and limitation and also that of others.  The call “to be Christ to the world today” just seems so impossible.  However, as all of us, each individually was touched by God’s grace and responds in his commitment to love and honor God in his life, come together, God’s power is displayed and His presence is felt amongst us.  This means that first and foremost I have to be connected and be relating to God.  I cannot ride on the momentum of the ministry or depend on others’ convictions.  I have to take ownership of my own spiritual growth.  I also have to see that I’m connected to the rest of the Body and that my own personal sins affect the whole church.  My insecurity, passivity, and pessimism do not just affect me, but they can dampen the whole ministry.  My fear and desire to hold back do not just impact me, but also those around me.  My faith also has a way to not just strengthen me, but also those around me.  During the Fall season, as we’re engaged in the biggest outreach effort of the year, I always get inspired and amazed to see the whole church coming together, with one single purpose, to bring the lost children back to our Father.  I’m thankful that I’m surrounded by brothers and sisters in this church who don’t bail out when things get tough and continue to trust in God to provide and continue to honor God in their lives as best as they know how.  When the world tells us to protect and preserve ourselves, to only love our loved ones with the limited resources we have.  I’m thankful that I can experience the power of the gospel coming alive as we commit to serve God together.  I feel so grateful to God that I not only can be a part of this Body where I have experienced God’s love and power in my personal life, but I also feel so honored that I could be “Christ” to the world as I commit to struggle with my sins and also commit to be faithful at wherever God has placed us along with the rest of the church.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Response