Monday, February 3, 2014
Every believer should expect spiritual gifts to serve others
St Seraphim of Sarov, man of prayer and man of peace
1 Peter 4:10-11
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
WE ENDED last week’s focus on close community with a preach which included the intriguing story of the Russian monk St Seraphim whose prayer life was… something else again.
People made their way into the woods near Sarov, in the heart of Russia, to find his log cabin, and he would be the channel for insight and encouragement from the heart of God and, often, miraculous healing. A full two centuries before the Pentecostal church was birthed, here was a full-on Russian Orthodox charismatic living in the spiritual gifts, speaking of His reliance on the Holy Spirit and empowered by being a living master class of being in the presence of God.
What does this teach us about community? St Seraphim never founded a church or pastored a flock. However, one can only imagine the effect on those Russian churches of salvations, healings and other impartations brought through this gentle man of peace.
Peter, in his letter, refers to gifts as speaking or serving gifts. Some people are really not comfortable in an ‘up front’ role – they would rather serve. On the other hand, there are gifts whcih come through speaking roles, but I would say they are rather limited value if they do not have the intention and effect of serving those who hear. St Seraphim was not a speaker – but what a godly servant!
Peter makes the assumption that every believer is a gift channel. Don’t read into his words literally that you have your gift and I have my gift. Gifts are situational – God brings them as He will, to meet the need of the moment – and if you are more comfortable with certain gifts than others, that may be because you have more faith in that area. That can change! The bottom line of Peter’s brief comment is an encouragement to expect God to bring His gifts through you, and to serve others with them. In contemporary words he might have said: “As a believer, expect to use gifts you have been given to serve others – go for it.”
What builds community, inside and outside the church? It is people who know God intimately and expect to use gifts as a way of touching others with His love.
That’s you and me, in a community partnership with God.