Last Saturday we held the open house with free breakfast for the community. Thanks to everyone helped out, cooking, serving, cleaning. Well done. The focus on the open house was not the building, and not even us as a congregation. Rather the focus was on those in the community. It gave us a chance to meet several new people.
“More than a Building”
This phrase expresses more than an open house, though. Our building is beautiful, it is the heritage of many devoted people who helped build, sacrificed to give, and continue to keep up the facility. It took time, care, knowledge, and constant care. Each piece of the building was specially crafted and fitted to serve its purpose. And the result is a usable building.
But it is a building with a purpose, to support our ministry—to members and to the community. We exist as a congregation to worship God, to build up our members, and to reach out to others with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Each Christian is specially crafted and fitted by God to serve his or her purpose. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians:
Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different ministries, but the same Lord. And there are different activities, but the same God activates each gift in each person. A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial:
But one and the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each person as He wills. (1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 11 HCSB)
Notice that every Christian has at least one spiritual gift. The Holy Spirit determines what is needed and provides as necessary. And the Holy Spirit gives these gifts for the common good of everyone. In other words, spiritual gifts are not our own personal playground or stage to showcase our talents. Rather, spiritual gifts are the means by which the Holy Spirit accomplishes work in the Church.
“More than spiritual gifts”
As important as spiritual gifts are to the work of the Church, something else is even more important: fruit of the Spirit. Paul wrote about them this way:
If I speak human or angelic languages but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.
And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body in order to boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 14:1-3 HCSB)
Notice that the fruit of the Spirit (in this case, love) controls and motivates the use of spiritual gifts. Paul writes further about the fruit of the Spirit (which are perfectly demonstrated in Jesus Christ):
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 HCSB)
So, the key is finding, using, and serving with spiritual gifts, but always under the control of the fruit of the Spirit. It is amazing how that changes the dynamics of living together as Christians. Instead of trying to impose “my way” on a congregation, in humility and gentleness, we work with those in our midsts. Service is not me-centered but Christ-centered. That means our service is always directed outward.
More than a building, indeed!
More than spiritual gifts, indeed!
Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4 HCSB)