One of the many themes that make up my conversations with God and my study of His Word at the moment is in the issue of gifting/calling/serving. Trying to understand the difference between what we are all called to do, how we are all called to serve, alongside the belief that we all have a personal calling, that God has a plan for each of our lives, and that we each have a unique mix of gifts and talents. In my quiet time on the sea front on Monday God brought to mind an analogy that helped me see the differences more clearly, so I’m sharing the thought process here in case it is of benefit to anyone else.
When we accept Christ and are born again, we call ourselves Christians – followers of Christ. As such we are all called to share the Gospel, to make disciples (Matt 28:18-20).
The Word tells us we each are given the same measure of faith (Romans 12:3). We can all develop the same fruits of the Spirit.
However each of us is further called – some to be prophets, some evangelists etc – as the Holy Spirit gives gifts to each one as He determines, making each of us “qualified” in particular areas (1 Cor 1:11).
“There are various gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. There are various operations, but it is the same God who operates all if them in all people.” (1 Cor 12:4-6)
We all have eternal life, yet the Bible teaches that we also have the capacity to store up treasures in heaven (Mat 6:19-20), and that we shall receive reward according to our labour (1 Cor 3:8).
So. How do we deal with this “all the same but all different” issue and the “not works but faith/earn rewards” apparent contradiction?
I found myself thinking of the Olympic team (as I’m in England I thought of Team GB).
All of them on the team received the same: the accommodation, the support, the food, the opportunity. The same resources were available to all. The same gym equipment.
Some of those sportsmen and women were swimmers. Some gymnasts. Some were rowers. Some specialised in field athletics, some track. Within even those disciplines some further specialised – some only ran the 100m, others may do two or three events. In the cycling there were individual events and team events. Sometimes their time went towards the overall score of the team.
At the end of the day they were all Olympians, they had all achieved their place on the team. Yet only some got medals, and not all of those were gold, and not all of them were individually earned but for the team (such as hockey).
It seems as good an analogy as any to describe the way that we are all, as Christians, equally blessed and equipped, equally called, yet all with the opportunity to do something with our calling, all able to find our specialisation and all seek our gold medal – whether for a team or for our own singular calling.
I’d rather be an Olympian who came home with a gold medal than one who could simply claim “I made the team”.