1 Corinthians 12:4-7. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
One of the most amazing truths about our union with Christ is that every Christian has the same Christ in them, but he manifests himself in each Christian uniquely. Paul explains this idea to us here in 1 Corinthians 12 as gifts from the Spirit. Spiritual gifts are the manifestation of Christ in us. But beyond this, their single purpose yet diverse expression, are the imaging of the Trinity through us.
“To live is Christ” means that there is both unity and diversity in the Body of Christ. This images the Trinity. God is one, and yet three. God is one in purpose, and yet his gifts, for carrying out that purpose, are many. As Christians we must realize that God’s single divine will is carried out in a variety of ways in the individual unique lives of his children. God’s will is for each of us to love him, love others, and make disciples. But how that works itself out in each individual Christian will be different. Different gifts. Different service. Different activities. Different manifestations. The gifts are meant for the whole church, not just one part of it. The diversity of our gifts used for the common good is truly one of the greatest ways that we image the Trinity.
Spiritual gifts in and of themselves are reflective of the Tri-Unity of God. All gifts originate from the Father. They are mediated by the Son. And they are enabled by the work of the Spirit. The same Spirit, same Lord, and same God are each uniquely at work in each and every Christian. And yet at the same time it is the unity of the Spirit, Lord, and Father God that creates our unity within this amazing diversity.
This truth should eliminate all ideas of competition or rivalry among us. God has handed out the gifts as he sees fit. No Christian has all the gifts. Only Christ does. Only the church as a whole does. No doubt the Corinthians were seeing these amazing spiritual gifts as a way to self-promote and seek even greater status. But our spirituality should never be seen as an opportunity to build up the self. And spiritual gifts should never be used to divide or damage the church. As we have seen and will see again soon, love is the boundary of our spirituality. True spirituality IS love.
“To live is Christ” means “to live is the Trinity.” Christ is the ultimate image bearer of the Trinity. And now he is living out his life through the manifestation of his life in you by the freely given spiritual gifts given to you. His power. His goodness. His life. Given to each one freely by grace for the building up and transformation of the church body, for the common good. But it can only be for the good if it is bounded by the love and holiness of Christ.
How open are you to God’s diversity? Do you expect every Christian to look and sound like you? Do you believe that you have a spiritual gift or gifts? How cool is it that Christ manifests himself in such a variety of ways through our own personalities and experiences but also through the different gifts he gives (OK, this is sort of rhetorical)? How would you explain the connection between union with Christ and spiritual gifts to someone?