Both/ And in An Either/ Or World
Though I am no longer a part of the regular rotation of those who write for the UCC Daily Devotional, the editors to run one of mine from the archive every now and again, as they did last Sunday. It seemed to strike a chord with readers of the DD so I thought I’d run it here, for those of you who do not see the UCC Daily Devotional.
Both/And in an Either/Or World
by Anthony Robinson | published on Jun 19, 2022
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. – 1 Corinthians 12:7 (NRSV)
Every now and again someone says, “If only we were like the early church, when everyone was full of faith and lived in total harmony.” I suggest reading the New Testament’s letters about actual early churches. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians will do. He wrote to a quarreling, contentious congregation. He cautioned against spiritual arrogance, suggesting to those who thought themselves as the enlightened that though “knowledge puffs up, love builds up.”
Paul affirmed a two-sided truth: individual gifts and their expression are really important … and the life of the group, the community or congregation, is really important too. It’s not either the sacred individual or the sacred community; it’s both/and.
In writing—“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit”—Paul affirmed that each and every person in the congregation is given a gift of the Spirit. Amazing! No one is gift-less, unimportant, or less than. In writing—“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit”—Paul reminds us that individual gifts and their expression aren’t the point. The point is a “common good,” building up the church and its witness to God.
When our kids were teenagers we affirmed a similar two-sided truth: “You are special, unique and important; and you are part of a family.”
Ponder the amazing gifts of the Spirit given to those in your life. Imagine the possibilities when all are invited to use their gifts to build up the church, to build up the community. “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
Pour out your Spirit upon us, O God. Remind those who think too little of themselves of the gift you have given them; remind those who think too much of themselves of the common good all gifts are meant to serve. Amen.