• JWool

Many Giftings, One Mission

Nothing makes me cringe quite like being told that I have a gifting in evangelism. I have been told this numerous times by well-intentioned friends who are genuinely looking to offer encouragement. The sentiment is appreciated, but such a statement can easily create the wrong idea. I once had a lengthy discussion with a friend in which I passionately poured out God’s vision for reaching the lost and making disciples. He concluded the conversation by stating, “Wow. It is clear you have found your calling. I’m so happy for you.” I died a little bit on the inside. God’s mission is not my calling. As brothers in Christ, it is our calling.

Unfortunately, much of the church has bought into the lie that God’s overarching mission is just one of many activities. We have taken the central purpose of our existence and reduced it to a special calling for the few. Jesus was clear in Luke 10:2 when he said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” To be a follower of Christ is to be a laborer in the harvest. Jesus called his first disciples by telling them they would become fishers of men. He often implored people to give up their lifestyles, saying, “As for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” He openly told his disciples that he came to proclaim the gospel and to seek and save the lost. If you want to be like Jesus, you do the things that Jesus did. Based on what he did, you should proclaim the gospel. But in case that still is not convincing, he even commissioned his disciples before ascending into heaven. He started off his discipleship with “Come fish for men”, and he closed it with “Go fish for men among all nations”. He has made his will abundantly clear.

Our temptation to view God’s mission as a special calling often stems from our misunderstanding of spiritual gifts. We tend to view spiritual gifts in the same way that we view career giftings. People become accountants, lawyers, business owners, salesmen, teachers, doctors, and much more. Each of them pursues a different mission. An accountant tries to balance the financial statements. A lawyer tries to win a case. A doctor tries to treat a sickness. Your career goals largely depend on which path you choose, and your path is often chosen based on your individual skills or giftings. It is not so with the body of Christ! In the body of Christ, there are many spiritual gifts to build up the church for one mission. Your spiritual gift is not the mission. Your spiritual gift is for the mission. We find great unity in the Spirit when we combine our various gifts to accomplish the Great Commission our Savior left for us. Philippians 1:27 indicates that we should be “standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel…” Imagine you decided to run a marathon, but your arms decided they only needed to partially participate because they aren’t quite as gifted at running as the legs are. You might could get by for a while, but any good runner would tell you that you need the arms. Your body parts would not be working in conjunction with one another. Since we are all members of the body of Christ, let us all cheerfully participate when the body moves for its purpose of evangelism and discipleship for the glory of God.

When Jesus crossed paths with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, she went and told the whole town about him. Did she have a special evangelism gifting? After Jesus sent the demons into the pigs in Mark 5, he sent the former demoniac to go tell everyone what the Lord had done for him. Did that man have a special evangelism gifting? When Jesus sent the 12 and the 72 out in Luke 9 and 10, did they have a special evangelism gifting? When the Spirit of God commanded Phillip to approach the chariot of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8, he led the man to faith in Jesus and baptized him. Did Phillip have a special evangelism gifting? When Stephen was appointed to serve tables in Acts 6, he was seized just a few verses later for making the name of Jesus known. Did he have a special evangelism gifting? Did his table-serving calling/gifting exempt him from speaking the gospel?

What did each of these individuals have in common? They each had an experience with Jesus, so they naturally wanted to tell others. There was no “that’s not my way of doing it” or “that’s not my gift”. There was simple obedience.

Many believers will agree that they have a responsibility to share the gospel and make disciples regardless of their giftings, but I have been told on numerous occasions that our different gifts simply imply that we all have different ways in which we share the gospel. This is true on the surface, but I have come to find that most of these “ways” are truly no ways at all. While there are different ways of sharing the gospel, all ways should have one major thing in common: the gospel is proclaimed! Not implied. Proclaimed. If your way of sharing the gospel does not actually result in the gospel being proclaimed, it is not a way of sharing the gospel. Instead, it is a way of making yourself feel like you are sharing the gospel so that over time you grow comfortable with your disobedience.

For most of us, the problem is that we have gone our whole lives only seeing a few people sharing the gospel and making disciples. We have never been in a situation where the entire body of Christ comes together to seriously pursue God’s mission. We have never seen it in action. Over time, this becomes the accepted norm. We assume that those who do “radical” things to share the gospel with others must have a special gift that we do not have. Are there some who are more natural at it than others? Absolutely. But according to Ephesians 4:11-14, their role is to equip everyone else to do it too!

Sharing the gospel with others is far out of my comfort zone. If you knew me before 2017, this should not surprise you. Someone equipped me and released me to do it. I experienced God and went back for more. The Holy Spirit has been at work in my life so much in the last few years that you may be fooled into thinking I’m skilled at it!

Therefore, do not equate “out of your comfort zone” with “not your spiritual gift”. That’s too easy of an excuse. Instead, take a step of obedience out of your comfort zone. Make a lifestyle of living outside of your comfort zone. That’s what following Jesus is all about!

In summary, remember this: Obedience is not a special gift of the few, and there is no spiritual gift that will lead you away from proclaiming the gospel and making disciples.

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