Charlie Brown is the epitome of the lovable loser that melts our hearts. Think about it, wouldn’t you love to see a cartoon where Charlie Brown’s baseball team wins? Even better, don’t you hope that one day he’ll really get to kick the football? As much as we want either of those things to happen, we know deep down in our hearts that they won’t. But we still keep cheering him on. Perhaps nowhere does our relationship with Charlie Brown, and it’s always “Charlie Brown” never “Charlie” or “Brown,” reveal how much we’re rooting for this kid who’s destined to be the loser among losers in life as when we watch “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and hear the kids talking about the candy they get at each house. All the kids get great candy, except for Charlie Brown – all he gets are rocks.
Life is like that, or so it seems, for a lot of people. Everyone else gets apples. I get lemons. Then, we realize we can make lemonade! In the Corinthian Church, as God gave gifts, some people got the “good gifts” while others got the “rock gifts.” Those with so called good gifts began to remind people that God loved them and trusted them so much that they had a “good gift” and began to lord it over those whose spiritual gifts weren’t so high on the ranking of gifts. The church divided over the issue of spiritual gifts because those with the so-called higher gifts often made sure that others knew about those gifts and let those others knew that God must really love them to let them have those cool gifts. Paul reminded the Corinthians of an important truth: the reason for God giving spiritual gifts to His children. “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:7)
Paul had to remind the Corinthians that the purpose God had for granting spiritual gifts was not to reward the “good Christians,” it was to move the church forward. Spiritual gifts were not given to individuals for their own private use. Paul compared the need for each person to use their gifts to a human body. If any part of the body felt like it didn’t belong, because it wasn’t that important, the body wouldn’t function like it should. Just as the hands, the feet, the eyes, and all the other parts of the body work together so that people can accomplish things, so the church depends on every person to be involved so that she can do the work that God has called her to do. No gift from God should be considered unimportant in the church.
Let me give an example of what might seem to be less important work in the church: caring for the children in the nursery. Most churches have trouble finding people to teach Sunday School to the pre-schoolers and younger ages. Yet, training them from the beginning of life so that they know and understand God is vital. In addition, when younger parents are in Sunday School or worship, they need to have confidence that their children are in good hands. Care in the nursery is as vital to evangelism as is the sermon for these folks. I recently did a lot of walking and, in the process, bruised the area underneath the connection between my big toe and my foot. The constant reminder that I get from that bruise distracts me from being able to concentrate. It’s not a lot of pain, but it’s an annoyance. Yet, I would guess that most of you don’t ever think about that area of your body because most of the time you don’t deal with that pain. As God’s people, we’ve been granted spiritual gifts for the purpose of building up the church, not as a reward for meritorious service and not a personal gift to make anyone feel better about themselves, or, dare I say, better than others. So, go build the church!
Lord, you have given me gifts to use to build up Your Kingdom. Let me exercise those gifts under the leadership of the Holy Spirit to bring honor and glory to You!