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Varieties of Gifts

Brothers and sisters, I don't want you to be ignorant about spiritual gifts. You know that when you were Gentiles you were often misled by false gods that can't even speak. So I want to make it clear to you that no one says, "Jesus is cursed!" when speaking by God's Spirit, and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. There are different spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; and there are different ministries and the same Lord; and there are different activities but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person for the common good. A word of wisdom is given by the Spirit to one person, a word of knowledge to another according to the same Spirit, faith to still another by the same Spirit, gifts of healing to another in the one Spirit, performance of miracles to another, prophecy to another, the ability to tell spirits apart to another, different kinds of tongues to another, and the interpretation of the tongues to another. All these things are produced by the one and same Spirit who gives what he wants to each person. -1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Bill mentioned in the introduction for the epistle reading this morning that Corinth was that Mediterranean city that was known for debauchery, it was The Sin City of the Mediterranean. And the fact that Paul was able to establish a church there was nothing short of miraculous. They had a lot of challenges, a lot of things that were pressing against them, and it was an affluent city, it was a wealthy city, and a lot of things were pulling and vying for people's attention. And probably not much different than the world we live in today, where there are so many things seeking to pull people this way and that way, and spend your money on this and do this and worship this.

We have all of those tensions still today, and this church, now it struggled in the midst of that whole dynamic. In the first chapter of Corinthians, the first book of Corinthians, Chapter 1 Verse 10. Paul kinda sets the stage for much of this letter, he says, Now I appeal to you brothers and sisters by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you should be in agreement and that there should be no divisions among you, but you should be united in the same mind and the same purpose, these divisions, he tackles them right from the beginning, saying, you know what, some of you are claiming me as your leader, some of you are claiming Apollos and you're fighting over who you think the real leader of this church is. And he continues going through and naming a lot of the things that were separating and dividing this group of Christians, sound familiar to the world we're in right now, and yet he's saying You need to be focused, there shouldn't be divisions among you, and in this 12th chapter he begins talking about spiritual gifts. He makes it seem as though that this congregation understood what they were and they did, because one of the things that they were using to make distinctions between people were the gifts of tongues, that they were using this gift and the people that had...

By the Holy Spirit have been empowered and equipped to speak in tongues, were putting themselves on pedestals, and Look at me, look what I can do, which wasn't God's intention and giving those gifts. And Paul's saying, Look, there are many gifts, God is the one that chooses who gets those gifts, but there shouldn't be any one of them that get held up in higher esteem than any of the others. In our world today, we talk about diversity, and we often talk about diversity being ethnic or socio-economic or ideologies or different things that make people different. Paul is saying that God has already built this diversity into this community of faith, this diversity of gifts that come from God, and for those that were thinking that they were better than others because of the gift they had, no, it wasn't because of their own doing. God was the one that disseminated and spread out the gifts to the community, because God knew what gifts were needed.

it's hard to take credit for something that you had nothing to do with other than standing there to receive it, and yet that's what that community was doing. These gifts were necessary. Now, I know many of you are familiar with the writings of CS Lewis, particularly the Chronicles of Narnia, the most well-known book in that series is The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. It's a Christian allusion, not illusion like magic, or you don't understand what you're seeing before you allusion like alluded to, and Lewis used that story to allude to some of the things about the Christian faith. We see that for instance, in Aslan willingly sacrificing himself for the good of all of Narnia, and then coming back to life.

Well, in that story. In chapter 10, I believe it is, as the Witch is hold and power is beginning to weaken and fade and the country is beginning to fall out, Santa Claus shows up, they're terrified 'cause they hear a sleigh coming in the tingling of bells thinking it's the Witch coming, but we wanna behold it's Santa, and he begins distributing gifts to the creatures and inhabitants of Narnia, and the three of the four children who were there, Peter and Susan and Lucy, Santa reaches into his bag and to Peter, he gives him a sword and a shield that he was gonna need for the battle against those forces of darkness, to Susan, a bow and arrow and a horn, and to Lucy dagger, and a vial of healing elixir.

But Santa tells the children, these aren't just gifts. They're tools. And I thought, You know what, did that have been helpful in our understanding of this, if Paul had also given us that disclaimer that these aren't just g