Using Gifts for the Church

You might recall me saying that we need to fit net curtains to the dining room and second bedroom curtain rails. Jenny removed the hems and we were ready to have the ruffle tape fitted. A friend of ours came around and we got the sewing machine out. This machine belonged to Jenny’s mom. Jenny has it for the last 35 years and her mom had it for about ten years before that. Our friend set everything up and tested the machine. It worked for about 80 centimeters on off-cut material and then decided that it would no longer work. Disaster!

Our friend took the net curtains home and attached the ruffle tape there. She brought it back and we fitted it, and it looks rather nice. She brought her sewing machine with her, and I watched her work her machine. It’s amazing what she can do with her machine … changing from straight stitch to zigzag stitch … from forward to backwards. This made me think of how the Tabernacle and priestly garments were set up in the Book of Exodus:

Ex 35:23 Everyone who had blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen, or goat hair, ram skins dyed red or hides of sea cows brought them. 24 Those presenting an offering of silver or bronze brought it as an offering to the LORD, and everyone who had acacia wood for any part of the work brought it. 25 Every skilled woman spun with her hands and brought what she had spun—blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen. 26 And all the women who were willing and had the skill spun the goat hair. 27 The leaders brought onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece. 28 They also brought spices and olive oil for the light and for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense. 29 All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the LORD freewill offerings for all the work the LORD through Moses had commanded them to do.

30 Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts— 32 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, Ex 33 to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship. 34 And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. 35 He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsmen, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them master craftsmen and designers. Ex 36:1 So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the LORD has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the LORD has commanded.”

2 Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the LORD had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work.

Did you notice the “everyone”, “those”, “every”, “all”, “the”, “they” and “he”? Be it working or giving, every Israelite was involved in making the priestly garments and making things for the Tabernacle. The idea of the Tabernacle was that it was a movable place of worship where God was present in the Holy of Holies. Everyone pulled together to ready a place for God’s presence where priestly activities could be performed with the focus on worship.

Today, we don’t have priests because the last and final sacrifice on the last and final altar was Jesus’ sacrificial substitutional death for every one called by the Spirit into the Faith. Neither do we have the concept of the Tabernacle. In Jesus we have a new covenant:

Heb 8:13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.

And it did … though the Temple replaced the Tabernacle as a place of worship, the Christian Church supersedes the Temple.

And the Church is not a building–it is a people who are able to meet anywhere without restriction … on the Lord’s Day or on any other day of the week. This does not mean we can’t have a building! A building, whatever its shape or size, is most useful in a democratic world because it prevents believers from disturbing others as they perform worship. It also help to protect from the hot sun, cold wind and wet rain.

When you think of the Church in the context of a people or a building, gifted people are required to make the people spiritually beautiful and to make the church esthetically beautiful. In this sense, believers today need to be like those who worked on the priestly garments and setting up the Tabernacle. The shocking news, however is that most people calling themselves Christian do not participate in the life of a Church. They might be members or attenders, but they do not share their resources (financial and practical) with the place they go for baptism, confirmation, marriage, burial, counseling, etc. The result is that, mostly, the local Church struggles to exist and perform all the ministries required of her. Often, the world looks at the Church and sees neglected buildings and gardens, neglected members and a Church where little or no impact is made on the society where it’s based. Respectfully, this is a contradiction because a Church (the people) ought to be dynamic and vibrant, because as saved souls they are alive in Christ! The Church ought to be the most influential organism in the community because it has a life changing ministry that affects the present, future and eternity! Often, she is not. Yet:

1Co 12:4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.

7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.

The list is not exhaustive, but to every believer a spiritual gift mix is given to bless the body. Yet, most believers do not utilize their gifts for the purpose God provides them. Is this why the church is failing?

Dear God, thank You for gifting me. Help me to mature my gifts to use them in the Body of Christ. Amen.

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