Friday, August 1, 2014

The Diversity of Our Gifts

Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. (Genesis 2:19 NIV)
In Genesis 2:19, God sets newly minted Adam to naming the animals. What is especially interesting to me about this is that God did not tell Adam what to name the animals. He simply observed to see what Adam would name them. God left it up to Adam what they would be called.

Adam was created in the image of God and to be like God. Then God puffed His breath into Adam’s nostrils and Adam became a “living being” (Genesis 2:7). The Targum Onkelos, an ancient Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, understands this verse as saying that man became a “speaking spirit.” God Himself spoke — and thereby spoke all things into existence — then He created Adam with the ability to speak, too.

Then God gave Adam the assignment of naming the animals. So now Adam spoke, and whatever he called each animal, that became its name. Adam’s words not only identified, they defined. They were creative.

God has given each one of us creative gifts. Whatever those are, they will look different on each one of us. If you or I had been in Adam’s place, we might each have named the animals differently, and then that is what they would have been called.

God created us to be creative, and in that God-given capacity, there is a rich diversity. The Spirit of God has gifted and called each of us into the ministry of Christ, and we each manifest those gifts and callings in a diversity of ways. It is tempting to think that, because you and I are called to certain ministries and have learned to exercise them in particular ways, others are also called to those same ministries and those same methods. But we each wear our gifts and callings differently. So we cannot expect that I must wear it the same as you, or that you must wear it the same as me.

Some of that is because of how differently God has made each of us. Some of it is because of the circumstances God has placed us in. Some of it is because of the season we each find ourselves in. Some of it is because of how, and by whom, we have been trained and taught in the Christian life. Some of it is because we are still in the process of being discipled in this or that area of our faith and life as Christians. And some of it might be because God has given each of us His breath and His heartbeat, and He is standing by to see what we will do with it — what we will create and how we will call things — just as He watched Adam’s creativity at work in naming the animals.

Each of us has not only been given a gift for the sake of the Church and the world, but each one of us is a gift that God has given to the Church and to the world. We are divine gifts meant for each other. The diversity and creativity of the gifts we have been given, and the gifts we are, help us understand more of the many-sided, multi-colored wisdom of God.

It may seem like the diversity we have represented among us is not always complementary. And perhaps it isn’t. It can be an uncomfortable thing at times, but perhaps that is not necessarily a bad thing — merely a thing. The ultimate thing is the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace that we have in Jesus Christ, which transcends the diversity of our gifts, our callings, our varied understandings of the faith and experiences in Christ, bringing them all together into one.