Celebrating Gifts Given: The Spirit… Through Others

When I was at Concordia – Wisconsin, I was a part of the “church work crowd.” This included fellow lay ministry students like myself as well as Lutheran education students, theology students, missions students, pre-deaconess students, and pre-seminary students. We thought we knew it all. We were under the impression that we were on a higher level than our non-church work classmates.
However, it was not a church work student but a nursing student who gave me the best advice I’ve ever received. She didn’t pull out her Book of Concord or start quoting Scripture when I told her about my problem of the day. Instead, when I asked how she knew it was going to be okay, she simply said, “Because we have a great God.”
That experience, when my nursing student friend calmed me down in a way no one else could, reminded me that the “church work crowd” was not the exclusive Jesus club. Every Christian has the Spirit, and every Christian is used by God.
Paul is describing a similar phenomenon in 2nd Corinthians 4. He says, “Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, ‘I believed, and so I spoke,’ we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God” (verses 13-15).
We tend to discriminate in our relationships. We assume that we are better in some way than the other person. But as Paul explains, we all have the same spirit of faith, and the Spirit works through others to demonstrate that fact for us. For me, it was my nursing student friend. For you, it could have been anyone that you assumed you were better than in some way. When we stop discriminating, then we can all work together towards the same goal: to extend grace to more and more people. We want everyone to join the “Jesus club,” no matter who they might be or what they might do. It’s not exclusive. We are here – all of us – to further God’s kingdom. And we can start by recognizing who else is in it.