Growing up, I think my mother had a hard time trying to raise two different sons. We shared nothing in common.
My younger brother, Brandon, is more of a hands-on guy. He can fix anything. His passion is to work with his hands and repair things. I’m not as handy with things as Brandon, much to Abbi’s chagrin at times. Yet, Brandon is gifted at what he does.
I’m the complete opposite of my younger brother. I was, and still am, a thinker and a communicator. I love talking and expressing ideas and supporting things. I’m more gregarious than my brother, and enjoy going out and exploring the world.
I’m sure each of you can think of things that make us different from our siblings or other members of our families. Each of us are made uniquely by God, which is simply humbling.
Even more, each of us gathered here today are different. We have things that make us unique and stand out. These gifts and talents that we each possess make us special in the eyes of God.
Something else makes us all special in God’s eyes. We each have a purpose for our lives and talents that God has freely given us that makes us unique and special.
God doesn’t just love us. He also gives us gifts and and a purposes for our lives. We’re going to explain this in our time together this morning. For now, we can say God freely gives us gifts and callings so we can glorify God and live as witnesses of God’s great love and grace.
Now, I should explain this.
We are part of something known as the royal priesthood of believers. This phrase comes from 1 Peter 2:9. It helps us to understand why we have certain gifts and talents. The idea is that each of us have a calling, a purpose, which allows us to do certain things in the church and in our communities. All of this is so we can glorify God and proclaim his love to all people.
Our callings bring us together and they also define us. We have two callings. Our first calling is to be in a relationship with God. As followers of Christ, we are called to grow in our relationship with Christ and strive for holiness in our lives and in our communities. As we grow in Christ, we become like Christ in our lives. That means that everything in our lives flows out of our relationship with Christ.
That is true when we think of our second calling. Our second calling is how we, as individuals serve God. We may think of this as our vocations. This is more than our careers. It those things we know we were put on this earth to do for God. We have been given a purpose by God and our gifts were given to us to live into that purpose. How can we find our second calling? We can find our vocation by knowing our passions. We can know our passions by finding those things that gets our heart pumping and energy flowing.
There are several areas where God may have called you to serve. Paul gives us an idea of what some of these could be. In 1 Corinthians 12, he writes that some of the gifts from God are generosity, discernment, great faith, healing, prophesy, being an apostle, teaching and leadership. This sounds like an exclusive list, but it is not. There are many ways God can call someone. Parenting is a gift and a calling from God. Having the ability and willingness to be self-sacrificial is a gift. Having the gift of administration is calling from God. We can keep going. All of these gifts come from God, because of God’s love and desire for his name to be known.
What about the church? God’s gifts seem to be only applicable for an individual. Can they also apply to the church? As we use our gifts, we will see that they have an importance for the entire church, which is the representation of Jesus Christ. When we use our gifts and callings, the church grows in its ministry and mission. Our collective callings can work together to proclaim the love of God in our communities.
What would it look like if for each of us, together, with our individual passions and gifts worked together to serve God in our community? Who could we reach? Who could we proclaim God’s love to? Who could we inspire?
Not only are we equipped by God with various gifts and passions, so is the church. The church has two callings. First, the church is called to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and participate in the ongoing ministry of Jesus Christ through the work of God’s Spirit. Churches also have second callings. This is the church’s mission and ministry. It is what a local body of Christ is known for and does to serve God. This is more than a niche. Each church has a specific call and mission. Some churches are called to be places where people outside the faith seek the Lord. Some are communities that focus on discipleship. Some are communities that promote God’s justice.
I wonder what our mission and ministry might be? Where is God calling us to serve in our community? Let us pray and discern God’s will for us as individuals and a community.
No matter how we are called by God, we are all called to serve God in honor and worship. It is out of our great love and faith in God that we serve.
Our passage for today paints a picture of what it means to use the gifts God has given us. Jesus tells a parable of a master who is going on a trip. Before leaving, he gives his money to his servants. Each servant was given amounts according to their capabilities. God doesn’t give us anything that we cannot do. God knows our character and strengths and gives us a purpose that is in line with who we are. This is so we can go and “make disciples of all the nations.” If you cannot write well, chances are God will not call you to be an author. If God has given you a generous heart and the ability to work with your hands, there is a chance God might have called you to help others in need.
Regardless of our gifts, Jesus makes clear that we each have a responsibility to serve. Two of the servants did that. They multiplied what they were given. As we serve God, we will produce fruit that will multiply in the kingdom of God. The smallest of gifts can glorify God and produce the biggest field of fruit of a witness of God. That fruit can be growth in discipleship. It could be leading people to know Christ for the first time or renewing their faith in Jesus. It could even helping those in need. When we use our gifts, we are living out a faith that works through a love of God and our neighbors.
Jesus says those who produce fruit will be called “good and faithful servants.” They will also be given more responsibilities. Our gifts will grow and God will trust us with more things in our lives.
Not all of the servants produced fruit or were called good and faithful servants. There was one who was terrified of what the master gave him. He was given a small amount, but he didn’t use it. He hid his gift. For this, he was called lazy and was tossed aside.
We can be like this servant. We may feel our talents are not “big enough” to make a difference. We may believe we’re not qualified to do anything for God. We may wrongly believe we’re just laity and not supposed to do ministry. All of these mindsets goes against God’s desires for us. It abuses what God has freely given us.
Instead, what we see in this servant, and in these attitudes, is a sense of inactivity. This inactivity of faith is a failure to do what God has called us to be and do. It might be one of the things that separates us from Christ the most. We live in disobedience if we do not following God’s calling, both our primary and secondary calling. Should this happen, we are no longer are trusting God. We end up trusting ourselves more than God. Trusting ourselves means we believe we know better than God. It also means we ignore what God desires.
Inactivity causes us to forget that life and faith is not about us, but about something bigger than us. Our gifts are given to us so we can glorify God and make a difference in our communities and in the lives of others. We have a responsibility to use our gifts to glorify God and serve our communities in God’s name.
We have been shocked with the continuous news reports coming out of State College, Pa. It is horrific to think at least eight boys were allegedly molested not just by a former football coach, but someone they trusted. Their lives will never be the same because of these actions, and our heart breaks for them and their families.
In this tragedy, we see the consequences of when good men and women refuse to live out their callings as leaders. It is shameful to think that leaders failed in their callings to lead and to provide for the safety of others. My prayer is that all involved, from those who did nothing to the alleged perpetrator, in this tragedy will find repentance and forgiveness at the foot of the cross. My prayer is also for the families and the victims that they might find healing and comfort through the love of Christ.
Granted, this is an extreme example, but lets not overlook the dangers of inaction of our own callings. A missed opportunity in leading our children in discipleship could have consequences in their spiritual growth. A missed chance to provide leadership could harm a community. A missed chance to give of our selves to others could mean we miss the opportunity to provide food for the hungry, or hope for the hopeless.
The cost of our inactivity is too high. The cost of not following Christ and his example of servant leadership is more than we can bare. We should never miss a chance to be a living witness of Christ, no matter how big, no matter how small. Let us not think for one moment that the call to serve God is too big for us. The smallest of tasks, the smallest of gifts, can be used to glorify God in ways that we cannot imagine.
We are all called to participate in what God is doing. Each day is a new opportunity to participate in God’s ministry by using the gifts God has given us. I encourage you to ask God to use you and your gifts so that God will be glorified. If we are willing to give of ourselves, the results will be astounding. We will have the opportunity to do some amazing things, and it is not for us, but all for God.
All it takes is for each of us to allow God to use us and to be willing to be used by God. This is not about us. Our gifts are not ours for our disposal. They are God’s gifts freely given to us, so that the kingdom of God will be seen in our community and midsts and that the kingdom will multiple.
Thanks be to God for the gifts in our lives. Let us as a community, and as individuals, use what God has given us to be witnesses of God’s kingdom in all places, and all times.