The Diversities of Gifts

The preamble to the constitution of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod defines two reasons for the “forming of a synodical union”:
1. The example of the apostolic church. Acts 15:1-31.
2. Our Lord’s will that the diversities of gifts should be for the common profit. 1 Cor. 12:4-31.

While both reasons are very important, this article will focus on the second of the reasons. St. Paul’s focus on the work of the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12 is central to the development of his thought:
1. It is the Spirit who makes people believers (v. 3).
2. The manifestation of the Spirit, whom believers hold in common, is given for the common good (v. 7) deliberately, in a way specifically determined by him (v. 12).
3. The illustration of the human body (illustrative of the body of Christ) (v. 12ff) shows the importance of ALL parts of the body, indicating that
a. God himself has combined the members of the body (arranged them as they are), with the intention that
b. There should be no division in the body and that all parts should have equal concern for the other.

Our district’s convention, just past, was a celebration of these principles. The grand processional on Thursday evening reminded us of the various types of missionaries who serve in Texas—diverse ethnicities, diverse ages, diverse cultures. Some serve primarily in congregations, some in schools, some in other types of ministries. To some is given the gift of administration. To some the gift of being an Evangelist. To others the gift of teaching. And more. Diverse gifts—all important and all to be used for the COMMON profit.

Equally as important resolutions were adopted celebrating the diverse ways that congregations responded to the Covid-19 pandemic, memorializing the national synod to adopt a process whereby controverted issues are discussed collegially and collaboratively with the objective of achieving consensus, and providing feedback, from diverse viewpoints, regarding changes to the LCMS system of colleges and universities. In adopting resolutions like these, diverse voices were heard and diverse votes registered. The diversity of opinion itself can be a gift “for the common profit.”

Our unity lies in the common Spirit who lives in us, the one Jesus we proclaim, and the fact that we are all members of his body. Our diversities—properly expressed and recognized—are gifts to the whole of the body.

How does the diversity of gifts bless your own congregation?

Jon Braunersreuther, D. Min.
Director of Districtwide Strategy
Mission Strategist—Area D

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