When Michelle first raved to me about cronuts, I was sceptical. She talked them up so much it left me wondering if any pastry could really be that amazing. The way she spoke about them, it was as though they had genuinely left a profound impact on her life. Would it- could it- ever be that amazing when I tried it? I mentally prepared myself to expect less than the rave reviews promised. But the crispiness of the croissant-like pastry, combined with the doughy, cinnamon-y goodness of a doughnut did not at all disappoint. Somehow, it actually managed to exceed the expectations I had. Seriously, do yourself a favour and track down some cronuts.
Sometimes, we are promised things that just don’t deliver. They might be talked up and raved about, but they turn out much less than what we’d anticipated, like the disappointing short straw. But when we read about Jesus’ gift of the Spirit to us and the other gifts that flow on from this, it becomes clear that walking alongside Jesus in our service is itself a tremendous gift, the best one of all.
As history moves on, after the life of Jesus, He continues to serve us. He has poured out such generous love on us, and yet He continues to serve us by actually dwelling in us through the Spirit. These next chapters in Serving Without Sinking go on to show how great a gift we are given in being able to serve. How unimaginable is it that God has been so generous and loving to us, and yet He continues to do so with opportunities to love and be loved in the context of Christian community?
The gifts we are given may appear to us as being the short straw. We see ourselves as being burdened by the gift that helps us only to carry out thankless jobs, while we look around at others whose gifts are bringing them success and praise from others. Looking at the spiritual lot we have been dealt, it can be easy to covet the gifts others have. It can also be tempting to think we know what areas of service in which it would be better for us to be gifted. But how much more than us does the Spirit know our gifts and how best they should be used?
In Chapter 10, “The Gift of Serving”, Hindley draws our attention to the purpose of the gifts that we are given by the greatest gift of all, the Spirit. After making reference to 1 Corinthians 12 and the body of Christ, the question is raised, “Did you notice that these gifts are things we use to serve? … being able to serve in the ways that you do is a good gift from your father. What we sometimes think of as chores to be done, the Father thinks of as gifts to be unwrapped.” So our gifts are not given for our glory or success, but for the serving and building up of His people. Serving is our privilege. Jesus goes on serving us, and we are privileged with the gift of walking alongside Jesus in life and serving.
Have you ever thought, seriously thought, about what your gifts are in serving Christ’s body? Now could be the time for you to think about what service you are gifted in and look for opportunities to use them. There is welcoming to be done by those of us who love meeting new people. There are meals to be hosted by those of us who are inclined towards hospitality (and gifted as cooks!). And the avid disciplers among us will never be short of people to meet with and read the Bible. Whatever your gift, whatever your Spirit-led inclination, there will always be opportunities to serve Jesus as the Spirit works in us. Let’s look for opportunities to use our gifts for the good of the Kingdom, knowing that they are a gift to us in being able to love the church and be loved by His people.