Thursday, July 9, 2015
“The spiritual gifts of the church are for the good of the rebels as well as for the building up of those who are reconciled. Whatever spiritual gifts we have, they are our own to use as we please; they are only entrusted to us that we may employ them to help our fellow-Christians. There is no person without a talent of some sort or other, no one without some form of power either given by nature or acquired by education. We are all endowed in some degree or other, and we must each one give an account for that talent.” — C H Spurgeon
After writing yesterday’s blog, I have been doing a lot of thinking about carpenters, nails, and hammers. The carpenter and the hammer are just around for a very, very brief time, but the nail stays in place and holds things together sometimes for hundreds of years. You really don’t need a hammer to drive in a nail—you can use a rock, a brick, or any really hard and heavy substance, but if you want to drive a lot of nails and have them stay, you need a hammer and sometimes a special one. There are all kinds of hammers: roofing hammers, framing hammers, claw hammers, ball peen hammers, sledge hammers, and even rubber hammers—just to name a few. Special hammers for special tasks makes the work go more quickly and will last for a lot longer. We have a framing hammer here that has a head that looks kind of like a waffle iron. I don’t do any framing—I use it to tenderize meat, and it does that very well. The point I am trying to make is that God needs all kinds of hammers to do His building of the kind of houses built on the rock—His rock of ages and rock of faith. When I first entered the ministry and went to my first district minister’s meeting, I was astonished at the motley collection of men and women that God and the United Methodist church were using. I couldn’t believe that some of them had any value whatsoever, but that just shows how naive and arrogant I was. I have long since learned that anytime you have a collection of hammers, very few of them will look like the others. Each has special skills that God needed for special reasons. Look around at the people in your church. Not everyone can sing, not everyone can lead a choir, not everyone should go on missions, not everyone can preach, not everyone can teach Sunday School, and not everyone can show up week after week to voluntarily serve food to the homeless and hungry, but every church needs all of these kinds of people, bringing their special spiritual and physical gifts to offer to God and His children. And, there is no one who is more important than the other. If the custodian doesn’t unlock the church, you can’t have a service. If the electric bill wasn’t paid, if the choir doesn’t practice—well, you get the idea. Nothing of real value presented for lots of people doesn’t involve the work, ideas, and service of lots and lots of people with special gifts. I was talking to a Muslim friend of mine who was complaining that I don’t preach often enough because he knows I have a gift for it. He said that in his religion, if you have a gift given from God and don’t use it, you are considered to be insulting God. I’d never thought of it that way and maybe you hadn’t either. Give your gifts back to God (remember the parable of the talents?) and all will be blessed. Every church and every Christian community needs all kinds of people to do all of the specialized tasks that are needed. If you have gifts (and every one of us does), please offer them to God, His church, His missions, and His children. By so doing, you bless all of us. I don’t know what kind of hammer you are, but you do, so put in the nails that will last far longer than the hammer that drove them in. Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.