The Olympic Games are internationally recognized events where each competing nation presents the best of their athletes. In theory, they all compete under the rules of fair play, but in reality the better trained and equipped athletes, with few exceptions, are the better financed and also the medal winners! This does not mean all the competitors don’t try their best, because they certainly do, but one can hardly call it fair play! Even so, all the individual and team performances are geared up for one thing only: To win that coveted gold medal. Or, if the losing party protests with enough big media backing, the judges may even grant double gold medals! I suppose for “home and country” we can all be Olympic fans to some degree.
While many get carried away with the glamour and politics of the Olympics, it seems that the church unconsciously follows a similar pattern. When the church loses its focus, it also becomes competitive and political. The church competes for members, positions, programs and dollars. Power-plays become evident among its clergy, while members eagerly await the next scandal! Sometimes it seems that the church can’t tear itself down fast enough and bring down as many as it can on its way down. Obviously, this is not the way God planned it!
The church regains its focus when it turns from self-centeredness and looks once again to its Head, Jesus Christ. In Christ the church is built up, not torn down. Through His death and resurrection, Christ has defeated and triumphed over all the foes of the church. And He has given gifts to every member of His Body, the church (Ephesians 4:7-10). In giving apostles and prophets, He has given foundational gifts on which the church can stand. He gives functional gifts of ministry or service by equipping the church through evangelists, pastors and teachers.
Every member is uniquely gifted in one ministry or another for the building up of His church. The purpose of Christ’s gifts is so the church may mature into the fullness of adulthood and not be swayed by false teachings. The Church universal and at the local level needs to mature in love so as not to lose focus and blur its vision with the carnality and egocentrism of this fallen world.
As Paul states, like the games, we run a race, but the race we run is not for gold, silver or bronze medals (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). We run a race for the prize of the high calling in Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:10-16). We continue in the path of our Lord and Savior and await His glorious coming and the crown of righteousness unto eternal life (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Now, that is a prize worth running for! And, in Christ it is already ours (1 John 5:13). Amen!
Jesus Christ has showered His church with an abundance of gifts that overflow into the seats and aisles of its ministry. May every believer answer his or her calling and mature in love to the building up of the whole Body. Amen.
For Your Reflection:
• How well are you running the race of Christian maturity? Are you still at the starting gate? Or are you halfway there but out of breath? Or maybe you are on the last lap and stretching out for the finish line? See 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.
• We share many tasks or vocations (callings) in this life, but our highest calling is to share in the ministry of Jesus Christ. There is one ministry, but a variety of services to perform. To which of these are you called? How effectively do you contribute to the edification of the whole Body? (LORENZO ARROYO)