I think it was my senior year of high school, maybe my freshman year of college, when I was asked to participate in the annual Young Life banquet in my hometown. There were maybe 15 tables full of parents and donors excited to hear about the successes of the year that had passed. At each table was also a student, ready to share what impact Young Life had had on their lives. Most of us were clueless as to what to say, so someone suggested that we have a verse in mind that would open up the conversation. At the time, my favorite verse was Proverbs 3:4-5, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (NIV) I’ve held that verse close to my heart for almost a decade and a half now, but as time goes by, my favorite verse has changed.
For a while, it was John 3:17, partly because it is awesome and partly because I always root for the underdog. John 3:17 is probably the most underrated verse in scripture because of its next door neighbor at 3:16.
Right now, however, I’d have to say that 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 ranks right near the top, if not at #1, of my favorite verses/passages from Scripture, and thanks be to God, it is included in the Epistle Lesson for Sunday.
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
I love this passage for many reasons: I love that it is an assured promise (“there are…”); I love that it invites diversity; I love that everything relies on God; and I love that it is communal. As a member of the clergy, it is easy to forget that communal nature of ministry. It is easy to take on the “job” of ministry for one’s congregation rather than seeing one’s vocation as an empowerer of people. My job is not to do the kingdom work for our 400 members, but instead to help them find which of the “variety” of gifts God has already bestowed and activated within them.
I love that part of my job.
I love this passage and am grateful for the reminder that we are all called, gifted, and sent to do the work of ministry.
Which reminds me: my sermon from yesterday, very much on that topic, can be heard and/or read here.