We are all talented people, every single one of us will be good at something. We may not know what that is and we may not have a framed certificate on the wall, or a trophy we’ve won for doing it, but that doesn’t make it any less of a talent. For some of us that talent is very obvious: We may have a fabulous singing voice, or talent for public speaking. We may be able to act, dance or draw. When God was giving out drawing abilities, I think I must have been in another queue, because mine have barely progressed beyond stick people. There are marvellous people who can pull together a catering event for 70 or 700 without batting an eyelid, people who can fix computers, or those who are extremely good at sport.
One of the most fundamental things I discovered as a new Christian, was that the church is the body of Christ. I didn’t get that at first, I thought the church was a building; but it isn’t. You can meet in the upper room of the local pub, but you’re still a church; you are still the body of Christ. The church is a group of people working together for God, pooling their talents and resources in the same way that our own bodies are made up of parts that do different jobs. Life would be very difficult if you were entirely made out of liver. The liver is only one part of you and the rest is an amalgamation of other bits that work together to give us the blessing to humanity that is you! Regardless of how you look at it, we are the pinnacle of God’s creation or 4 million years of human evolution. Think about that one as you look in the mirror today
The people are the church and this is one reason I struggle when it comes to the endless restoration projects that are going on up and down the country to preserve crumbling church stock. I appreciate that it’s a beautiful old building, yes; but is it fit for purpose? Can you do what you need to do in it, or is all your effort going into fund-raising to keep a roof over your head? Are you getting distracted from the real job at hand – spreading the good news – or are you merely giving people the impression that the church is just after your money?
Sorry to say this, but nowhere in the Bible does it mention that your experience of church should be about pouring your time and energies into a building. It’s about pouring your time and energies into people, encouraging each other and building one another up (1 Thess 5:11). I feel it’s a clear challenge for the modern church. Does it matter where you meet? Does it matter that it looks less like Westminster Abbey and more like a warehouse? Or is a warehouse? The body of Christ is you as a congregation. Jesus isn’t going to come back and say “well done, that’s some fantastic stained glass you’ve preserved!” He’s going to ask what you did with the news about him. Did you spread it or keep it to yourself? And what did you do with the talents and abilities he gave you? Did you use them or keep them all pristine in the box?
The talents and abilities we’ve been given aren’t for show, they won’t be featured on some celestial version of Antiques Roadshow; they are for use by you here and now. I can’t draw, but I can string a sentence together. I have absolutely no clue where my writing’s taking me, but I’m going to get it out in some form or another until something takes shape.
In this I will admit to having come up against a wall and it’s about that headline at the top. I’ve been given this ability, but I’m slightly fearful about getting in the game. The pristine talent is out of the box, I’m bouncing it in the corner, the whistle’s gone, play’s started and I’m there on the sidelines, not sure of the way in.
Fear, I’ve come to realise, is the Devil’s handy way of stymieing a lot of what could be done for God. At some level you know you can do it, but when you start to think about it too much it all gets a bit scary. If that’s how you feel about something in your life, then let me tell you that I’m right there with you!
It’s here that more mature Christians will give me that look and quote 2 Timothy 1:7 at me ” For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.” It’s here that Peter Furler’s song lyrics for ‘All in your head‘ seem crushingly relevant. That song, has been a superb kick up the backside for me.
We all have talents and abilities. You may not think you have, but you do. God has given you something that you’re good at. Your job is not to squander it but to use that talent in his service. By all means get it out of the box, look at it for a bit, bounce it on the floor and get the feel of it. But at some point the whistle will go for the start of your game. You have the ball and every second that you hesitate means that you’re holding play up. This is your moment to show God what you can do with what he’s given you.
So come on, we’ll both get in the game together, OK?
Oh and for inspiration, use this song from Peter Furler. It seems to be working for me.
* with grateful thanks to Peter Laws for another one of those smack-over-the-head-with-the-truth moments