Which Way to the Top?


Open It Up!

Would you ever get a gift and not open it? That seems like a silly question: Who doesn’t like to get presents? Yet, at the Hope campus on Sunday, that is what Worship Arts Director Marilyn Bills says often happens when people do not unwrap the gifts of the Spirit God has specially chosen for each of us.

The phrase “spiritual gifts” almost sounds, well, too spiritual, too “other worldly.”  Surely only the elite Christians must be the recipients of spiritual gifts. Yet the Bible expressly states that each one of us possesses (note that’s different than being possessed by!) these unique abilities, assigned by God, so we can use them grow the body of Christ (that is, the universal church),  and, when practiced in the way God intended, to benefit us as well.

In addition to spiritual gifts (there are many passages in the Bible that talk directly or indirectly about these gifts, and the numbers can vary), Marilyn also highlighted for us  seven types pathways - ways we connect with God: intellectual, relational, service, worship, activist, contemplative, and creation. If you heard the message, you may have thought her descriptions of one or two clicked with you. Maybe you experience God in nature, or maybe you love to dig into the Scripture or other books to study God. If you often hear God speaking to you through others, you may have the relational gift. Or, perhaps you feel closest to God when you are meditating. If you always see a need, and often fill it, before others even notice, chances are you have the gift of service. And if you have a passion for justice that nothing can deter, God has put the spirit of activism in you.

I have found through my life that while the need for authentic relationships is critical to my overall sense of well-being and feeling purposeful, other pathways can ebb and tide, which is not unusual. I can make my voice loud and unrelenting if I see a wrong that needs righting, and the “dark side” of my willingness to serve can pop up if I think others are “slacking off.” (You should see how annoyed I get when people at work don’t put a new roll of toilet paper on the dispenser or just add water to a nearly empty container of soap instead of getting a new one.)

Spiritual gifts and pathways may sound more like presents we give to others, and in a way, that’s true. But these gifts comes back to us in abundance if we open them up and try them out instead of just leaving them in the box.

If you want to know more about how God has wired you, make time for the 6-week study “Pathways, Passions, and Gifts,” being led by Marilyn Bills at the Voorhees campus May 7 through June 11 (7:00 to 8:30 p.m., room 11) or in Mount Laurel beginning May 22 at 7pm in a Mt. Laurel home.

-Lauree Padgett

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