“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” ~1 Peter 4:10
Once again, we’ve kicked off our summer Wednesday nights at Central by cancelling all our Bible classes. No, not to stay home and do nothing. Not as some reluctant surrender to the culture. And not because, hey, it’s summer and everybody’s schedules are nuts anyway. This summer, we’re cancelling our Bible classes on Wednesday nights so we can better practice as a church what we preach: that every single person who confesses Jesus as Lord is gifted by God’s Holy Spirit in different ways; that all the gifts are intended to serve other people with God’s love and grace; and that the exercise of those gifts will grow us more into the image of the Christ.
Throughout the month of July, our church family is participating in 27 different service projects throughout our city, mainly concentrating on the Plemons neighborhood around our church building. Most of the projects are just going to take about two hours each, most of them are fairly simple, and most of them require skills and abilities we don’t normally classify as spiritual gifts. We’re calling it “Gifted 2 Go.”
We’re painting benches and rails at Bivins Elementary, sharpening lawnmower blades and changing oil in cars, flying kites and building birdhouses, singing at hospitals and nursing homes, stuffing pillows, and doing small home repairs. Our aim is that we realize our very different and various talents come from God and that when we use them to bless others in his name, those are indeed spiritual gifts. We want to redefine the term “spiritual gift” so that the things we’re good at, the things we really enjoy doing, those are “spiritual gifts” when we give them to God to be used for his purposes.
This past Wednesday I led a group of about twenty-five — young and old, men and women, dressed in grubbies and armed with paint brushes and rags — to Bivins Elementary, just down the street from our church building. There we met the principal, Tim White, and we painted the benches and picnic tables around the school, the rails around all the ramps and stairs, some playground equipment, and a big wooden shed behind the gym. Kevin took a group of about forty-five — again, young and old alike — and they sang their hearts out at the Continental Assisted Living Center and Westgate Mall. Todd and Mary’s group put together a huge playscape thing at the Southlawn Assembly of God where we partner together on a weekly pantry ministry. Around sixty others sewed and stuffed 500 pillows for hospital and hospice patients. Twenty others cleared a vacant lot for Another Chance House. And another twenty or so knocked nearly 600 doors in the Plemons area, getting to know our neighbors and inviting them to the events and services to come in the following weeks.
My prayer is that the people of Amarillo will experience the love and grace of Christ Jesus in our efforts. I also pray that we will all realize that these very things we enjoy so much, the things we’re so good at individually, serve a much greater purpose than what we’ve always figured. And we don’t have to wait for our ministers or church staff to come up with programs to exercise those gifts. It should be a lifestyle. My small group should be figuring out ways to serve Amarillo in the name of Jesus on a regular basis, not just during the summer. My family should be blessing my neighborhood monthly, weekly, daily. My Bible class can be doing similar projects all the time. If our church finishes this summer series, celebrates with a slide show, and then sits around waiting for next summer’s special program, we haven’t apprehended the true meaning and purpose of “Gifted 2 Go!”
I believe “Gifted 2 Go!” is going to bless Amarillo in ways that we can’t yet begin to imagine. Our neighbors are going to experience God’s love and mercy through us. And I think we’re all going to be challenged to growth, spiritual growth in our righteous relationships with one another and with our Christ.