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What a talented bunch… And you’re in that bunch! So bring whatever you’ve got to the table!

Loughborough Church Sunderland New Springs - TalentI wonder if you know – but there is only one thing that stopped me being an international rock star and world-acclaimed actor. ‘And what was that I hear you ask?’ Well that’s simple – it was ‘talent!’

Talking about ‘talent’, let’s look at the dictionary definition for this fascinating word.

ˈtalent/

noun

natural aptitude or skill.

synonyms include: flair, aptitude, facility, gift, knack, technique, touch, bent, ability, expertise, capacity, power, faculty; strength, strong point, forte, genius, brilliance; dexterity, adroitness, skill, cleverness, virtuosity, artistry…

Bearing in mind the above, I can’t help thinking what an amazing bunch of talented people we have at New Springs City Church. They range from current Olympians and literally some of the fastest sprinters and bob-sleighers in the world, TV and film actors, professional musicians and wonderful singer/songwriters and composers, anointed worship leaders, unbelievable vocalists, incredible dancers, amazing artists, creative writers, outstanding sports people, ex-professional footballers, black belt martial arts winners, the sharpest academics and lecturers, brilliant entrepreneurs, high-flying managers, remarkable social wealth experts, successful business owners,  wise and competent leaders, a plethora of experts in specific and varied fields, innovational design,  people inventors, highly efficient administrators, outstanding communicators and Christian public speakers ..and so the list goes on and on and on.

You know, it always takes my breath away when I consider the many, varied and talented people that God brings to us here at New Springs? Having said that, it doesn’t just happen – as a church we pray all sorts of people in – and we do all we can to welcome, nurture, foster, develop and celebrate the many different giftings and talents that God brings our way.

Now I can almost see some of you grimacing at the page and thinking, ‘but what about me? I’m none of those things and I don’t feel I’m particularly talented in any area at all.  I’m not sure I’ve got anything to bring to the table.  In fact, if the truth be known, I feel a bit of a disappointment, even a failure where this whole talent and gifting department is concerned!’

But here’s the truth of the matter – if you’re feeling like this, I’m sorry to say you’re thinking is absolutely way off the mark and it’s a million miles away from what God’s word actually says about you.

To understand this, all we have to do is consider that popular passage of scripture found in
1 Corinthians Chapter 12 according to the paraphrase known as The Message, written by the well-known Christian author, Eugene Peterson. Here it is then.  Read it with fresh eyes and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to you through His Word.

The Apostle Paul writes….

“What I want to talk about now is the various ways God’s Spirit gets worked into our lives. This is complex and often misunderstood, but I want you to be informed and knowledgeable. Remember how you were when you didn’t know God, led from one phony god to another, never knowing what you were doing, just doing it because everybody else did it? It’s different in this life. God wants us to use our intelligence, to seek to understand as well as we can. For instance, by using your heads, you know perfectly well that the Spirit of God would never prompt anyone to say “Jesus be damned!” Nor would anyone be inclined to say “Jesus is Master!” without the insight of the Holy Spirit.

God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God Himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is. Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful:

wise counsel

clear understanding

simple trust

healing the sick

miraculous acts

proclamation

distinguishing between spirits

tongues

interpretation of tongues

All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when.

You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of His one Spirit, we all said goodbye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which He has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptised.) Each of us is now a part of His resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—His Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.

I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.

But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it’s a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honour just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn’t you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair?

The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.

You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything. You’re familiar with some of the parts that God has formed in his church, which is his “body”:

  • apostles
  • prophets
  • teachers
  • miracle workers
  • healers
  • helpers
  • organisers
  • those who pray in tongues.

But it’s obvious by now, isn’t it, that Christ’s church is a complete Body and not a gigantic, uni-dimensional part? It’s not all Apostle, not all Prophet, not all Miracle Worker, not all Healer, not all Prayer in Tongues, not all Interpreter of Tongues. And yet some of you keep competing for so-called “important” parts.”

WOW! What an amazing passage of scripture! What an amazing paraphrase!

Let’s ponder again on just some of the salient aspects of the passage. Parts such as…

“God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit.”

“God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God Himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful.”

“All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when.”

“I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together.”

“As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.”

“The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part.”

“You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. It’s only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything.”

“But it’s obvious by now, isn’t it, that Christ’s church is a complete Body and not a gigantic, uni-dimensional Part?”

Now, if this passage of scripture tells us anything, it tells us a couple of things. Firstly we are all uniquely different and secondly each one of us has something unique and valuable to offer. Each and every one of us is a specific part of Christ’s Body here on earth and each one, without exception, has been entrusted with various talents and giftings by Almighty God.

According to this passage of scripture whoever you are. You most certainly do have a serious contribution to bring to the table in God. Whether you believe it or not, God has most surely deposited in you and entrusted you with specific giftings and talents and He expects you to use those talents and gifts to further His Kingdom and to see His Church move on and flourish in the 21st Century.

I told you we were a talented bunch didn’t I? Nevertheless, you must never forget that you personally are also a real part of that bunch as well!

So, my fellow believer, this ain’t no time for any of that false humility stuff, and it’s no time for shrinking back in any way (or for excuses for that matter!).

This is the time to find out what God has entrusted you with.

This is the time to recognise what God has given you and to nurture, develop and use it in the best way you can under the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God.

This is not the time to hide your light under a bushel – this is the time to come out of the shadows and to rise and shine depending totally on His ability to use you in whichever way He desires. This really is the time to make yourself available.

This is the time to step up to the plate. This is the time to mount up with wings as eagles to soar and play your part.

And when you bring what you’ve been given to the table, you can be sure we will be there to greet you. You see, we too are bringing what we have been given to that same table. And together, you with your gifts, and we with ours – we’ll get the job done!