August 2 2015 Reflection

10th Sunday after Pentecost (August 2, 2015)
‘DIVERSE GIFTS, ONE BODY
By Rev. Toby Keva

BIBLE READING
Ephesians 4:1-16

REFLECTION

Dragon Ball is probably the most popular Japanese cartoon every played on Australian television. It tells the story about a boy, Sun Go Kou, and his quest to collect seven crystal orbs, known as the Dragon Balls, which have been scattered all around the world. Once all the seven orbs are collected, the orbs can summon a dragon that is going to grant any wish. But to summon the dragon, all seven of the orbs must be present. If one orb is missing, than the dragon cannot be summoned.

Like these orbs, God has also given each one of us a gift, a talent. The gift that we receive is like a piece of a great puzzle. Without the other pieces, our piece will achieve nothing. But, without our piece, the puzzle would never be complete. To be complete, all pieces of the puzzle must be joined together.

Indeed, our society worships individual achievements. But today, we are reminded that all talents and gifts and achievements, especially in the church, are just pieces of the same puzzle. No piece is more important than the other pieces.

The vision that the letter to the Ephesians, which we read this morning, gives to us is this:  God has given a gift to each one of us not for our own sake/glory, but for the sake of the building up of the Church, the Body of Christ. The gift is given not so that we can glorify ourselves or glorify one another, but so that the body would function well.

Indeed, Ephesus was one of the ancient Greek metropolitan cities under the Roman rule. Just like other big cities at that time, it was a major urban centre with a diverse population, religiously and socially.[1] Such diversity must have also been reflected in the church in Ephesus. The church there must have been made up of people from all walks of life

The letter, therefore, reminded the believers that even though they were different, they were all one in Christ. Following Christ did not mean that they had to give up their identities. On the contrary, the Gospel affirmed their differences. But they all must remember that they were all one in the Spirit, parts of the same body. As such, they all must be humble, gentle, patient and tolerant with one another (v. 2-3).

Indeed, the author of the letter reminded the believers in Ephesus that each one of them had received a different gift or call from God. Some were gifted or called to be apostles, other as prophets. Some were gifted or called to be evangelists, others as pastors or teachers. No gift or call was more important than the other. Each gift or call was important for the building up of the Church.

And there is no point in jealousy or rivalry because all gifts come from God who is “above all and through all and in all” (v. 6 - NRSV). The author was clear that no one had attained any of the gifts. They were all given to them. So if all were given and not gained, then there was no reason for them to be prideful or arrogant.

Friends, we all here are different. We all bring different gifts and talents and experiences and skills to this place. Yet, we all are one because we all are baptised in the same name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

No, we are not called to act the same or do the same thing. Uniformity is not the gift that Christ gives to the Church or the goal that Christ wants us to achieve. Christ’s gifts to the Church are diverse. Yet, the diversity should not be a source of rivalry or jealousy because, in the end of the day, there is only one God who works through all and is in all (v. 5-6).

When I was a kid, one of the games that I loved playing (besides puzzle and origami and monopoly and hide and seek and basketball and soccer and badminton and video games and any other games kids love to play) was the game where I had to draw lines between dots. The dots were numbered and I had to draw the lines in sequence to draw a picture. Each one of us is like one of those dots. Each one of us is important only when we connect our 'dots' with the other 'dots' around us. Indeed, only when we are able to see the greater need of the community in our individual calling that we can become fully mature in Christ (v. 13).[2]

Friends, we are called to build up the body of Christ and not to break it down.[3] And the way we build up the body of Christ is by utilising Gods gift to each one of us; by responding to God’s call to each one of us. The question is not whether or not we have received a gift from God; the question is how do we utilise God’s gift in our life. And here is the secret: the more we use the gift that God has given, the more we respond to God’s call in our life, the more the body of Christ is built up. Indeed, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”[4]

“Take a moment to think about one gift or talent you possess, and one gift or talent you wish you had. In what ways have you been able to use your gifts or talents to help the church or other community/organisation? In what ways have you seen the gift or talent you wished you possessed being used to help the same community or organisation? Did it matter to you that you were not the one exercising that gift? Why?”[5] What can you do be grateful for whatever gift that God has given to you and whatever gift that God has given others and how you can work together with them? Let’s spend a moment of silence to reflect on these questions....

Remember, there are many gifts, but there is only one God, one faith, and one baptism.

Amen.

[1] Sarah Henrich, Commentary on Ephesians 4:1-16, on http://www.workingpreacher.org (August 2, 2015)

[2] What We Experience, in Seasons Fusions for Congregational Life, Pentecost 1 (July 19 2015)

[3] What We Experience, in Seasons Fusions for Congregational Life, Pentecost 1 (July 19 2015), p. 143

[4] Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Seekers ABC, San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993, page 119

[5] Questions from What We Experience, in Seasons Fusions for Congregational Life, Pentecost 1 (July 19 2015), p. 143