(The weekly GPS Small Group Guide can be downloaded in .PDF format from the individual sermon page, found at http://www.cor.org/worship in Sermon Archives)
The Holy Spirit, the Priesthood of All Believers and One Million Cups…
A Grow-Pray-Study guide for small groups
This guide uses the Scripture readings from the daily “GPS” study guide. Group members may read the daily readings before the group meeting, or read the verses aloud when the group meets. The group may subdivide into two or three smaller groups, each discussing a set of the daily readings and the matching questions on page 2, or the entire group may discuss those questions together. We pray that, whatever pattern of study you choose, the Holy Spirit will weave God’s Word into the life and heart of each group member.
1 Corinthians 12:1-11
The culture of the Greek seaport city of Corinth (like that of Rome, the empire’s capital—and like ours) urged people to fight their way to the “top spot,” and to trample anyone who got in their way. Humanly, we tend to see relationships like a pyramid, with the most important place and person on the point at the top. But the apostle Paul said the church was NOT like a pyramid. Instead, he said, every member of the church was important in doing God’s work.
1 Corinthians 12:12-21
Drawing on a fact we live with daily—the interdependence of all the varied parts of our physical body—Paul created a new image to describe God’s intention for the church. We are, he said, “the body of Christ.” The image is now so familiar that we don’t often think about what it actually means. Paul was saying our varied gifts relate to one another in the same way all the different parts of our body interact. Wholeness depends on each part doing what God designed it to do.
1 Corinthians 12:26-13:3
Your gifts, Paul told the Corinthians, are unique and wonderful. What’s more, it is important to develop your gifts and use them. But Paul also reminded his readers that their gifts were not tools to outdo others in a quest for human power or glory. Be who God made you to be, and work together for God in heaven’s spirit of love.
T Scholar John Dickson wrote, “’humility’ (humilitas in Latin; tapeinos in Greek) was not a virtue in Graeco Roman ethics….In its place was philotimia, “the love of honour.” Aristotle had insisted that “honour” and “reputation” are among the pleasantest things one could contemplate and attain for oneself.” In that setting, it was striking that Ephesians said “humility, gentleness, and patience” are among God’s key qualities for building a healthy spiritual body.
Of all the New Testament lists of God-given gifts, this one (“apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers”) may be the one that the most Christians would recognize. Problem is, far fewer Christians see themselves in the list. But Ephesians did not say God gives only these gifts. Rather, God meant these gifts to equip all of God’s people for the divine work of serving and building up the body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:4-9
The apostle Paul taught that God gives every believer gifts to use in doing God’s work. We are all different, and God needs each person’s individuality, shaped by our God-given gifts, to accomplish God’s purposes. Today we read Paul “walking his talk” about the value of each Christian’s gifts. He wrote that, although he and another teacher named Apollos had played differing parts in building up the church in Corinth, neither of them (or their followers) could or should claim that one was superior to the other. Both served God, and in the end, any glory for what they had done went to God.
To access the Family Activity suggested in this week’s GPS, download the printable GPS from http://www.cor.org/guide.
Dear God, we love you, and want to honor you. Help us keep learning how to honor you by drawing people together rather than driving wedges. Keep alive in our hearts the sense of what an honor it is to serve you, and help us to extend the same honor to all of those who, like us, are working for you. Amen.
CONNECT (5-10 minute discussion, at most)
Which job, paid or unpaid, did you try to do that was the worst “fit” for your abilities and interests? What did you learn from it?
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION AND STUDY
NOTE: We encourage study groups to have several different Bible translations available for these readings. Reading aloud from the Common English Bible or The Message may help to clarify the meaning of some passages.
Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. Paul introduced this subject by writing, “Brothers and sisters, I don’t want you to be ignorant about spiritual gifts.” Why not? What’s the downside to the church of having many of its members not serving in any way, or serving in ways that God hasn’t gifted them to serve? What’s the downside for the people involved? How many of you in your group can identify your main spiritual gifts? If you’d like to learn more about your spiritual gifts, visit http://www.cor.org/spiritual gifts (there are two classes this summer), or contact Melanie Hill (firstname.lastname@example.org) to ask about scheduling an experienced spiritual gifts teacher to meet with your group (schedule to be arranged).
Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-21. Paul addressed two challenges in today’s passage. The first is our human tendency to think, “Everyone else should be like me.” How hard or easy do you find it to value people whose gifts are very different from yours? The second challenge Paul spoke to is our tendency to envy other people’s gifts, to want to be like them. Have you ever wished you had the same gifts as someone you greatly admire? What has helped you learn to value and use your own gifts, rather than trying to imitate someone else with different gifts?
Read 1 Corinthians 12:26-13:3. In the first part of this passage, Paul asked in various ways, “Are we all gifted in the exact same ways?” In Greek, all of the questions assumed the answer, “No.” What are some of the interests, talents, and passions that make you unique? Paul went on to teach clearly that nothing matters in God’s eyes (not even faith!) if you don’t have love. God means you to use your gifts based on love, not on selfish interests. Is love the main driving force in how you use your gifts? If not, what other motivations sometimes intrude?
Read Ephesians 4:1-7. As in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul also wrote to the Ephesians that our diversity of gifts is most useful when we do our varied tasks in a spirit of unity, as one body. In what ways have you seen differences in gifts and passions strain the body’s unity? Have those differences ever strained your group’s unity? What practical steps help to maintain unity among people with very different gifts? Paul also wrote, “I encourage you to live as people worthy of the call you received from God” (verse 1). What helps you to extend that sense of high calling to even routine tasks?
Read Ephesians 4:11-16. What do you think spiritual maturity looks like? 10 years of regular worship attendance, taking part in 5 in-depth Bible studies, tithing, three mission trips under your belt, regular group attendance? Well, maybe. In verse 13, Paul described it this way: “to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ.” Identify two areas where, as a group, you are happy with your growth toward spiritual maturity, and one or two in which you seriously want God to help you grow during the rest of 2014.
Read 1 Corinthians 3:4-9. Scholar William Barclay wrote of this passage, “This is extremely significant because it means that you can tell what a man’s relations with God are by looking at his relations with his fellow men. If he is at variance with his fellow men, if he is a quarrelsome, argumentative, trouble-making creature, he may be a diligent church attender, he may even be a church office-bearer, but he is not a man of God.” Who do you know who shines at drawing people together, rather than driving wedges between them? By the standard Barclay draws from this passage, how are your relations with God doing?
From last week: This last week, did you prayerfully consider whatever jobs you have and the work you do? Did you find a way, no matter how small, to improve it, following God’s guidance? Share with your group some of your most surprising results.
FOR ADDITIONAL INSIGHT
From Pastor Scott Chrostek’s sermon, June 8, 2014:
Work becomes a four-letter word, or it becomes a necessary evil when we begin to view the people around us as competition as opposed to companions, teammates, or people filled with potential for collaboration.
A few weeks back I had a chance to sit down and drink coffee with a group of entrepreneurs turned CEO’s of some pretty significant businesses in the Kansas City area. I wanted to gain some insight as to how they approach the work they do.
These people were from a variety of industries and possessed a wealth of experience, and our conversation was so life giving, and we went in several different directions and yet there was one thing upon which everyone seemed to agree, regardless of industry or experience.
They each mentioned that, though they weren’t all in the service industry, they each got to where they are by viewing every single interaction they had as though they were in the service industry.
They shared how their primary job as leader, or as CEO, was to serve. We must serve our employees, but it’s not just that, we also need to provide excellent service to our customers. We serve our potential clients, our families, our friends, the community and the church. We are always seeking to serve people around us. We are always focusing on the interests of others before our own. Pouring into others always and everywhere. They saw the world around them and the people in it, not as competition, but as companions, as potential team members, filled with God’s possibility. We find life at work, work becomes more than just another four letter word, when we seek to view and serve others in this kind of way. What is crazy is that when we do, things happen that you couldn’t ever imagine or ask for.
One of the CEO’s I met with mentioned how he views everyone he meets as though they are another opportunity for a new collaboration. Everyone he meets has something to teach him, a way for him to grow, and the potential for collaboration.
Clayton Christensen, the professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, echoes this idea. He writes that the only way that we can or should measure our life at work is not through individual measurements of payables or receivables, hierarchical advancement or vertical growth, but rather we should measure our life by our ability to make the people around us better than they would be had we not been there. We measure our success in life, not by thinking about, talking about, reflecting about our achievement or advancement, but rather by reflecting over the individual people whose lives you’ve impacted and blessed.
How are you making the people around you better? Are you bringing out their potential? Are you encouraging, supporting, investing in the people around you? Are you looking for opportunities to learn from others, grow through others?…
This is what Jesus modeled in the way that he poured into and served his disciples…and following Jesus’ death and resurrection this became the church’s story as well. In the beginning of Acts, there was this team of disciples who didn’t know where to go, or didn’t know what to do, they weren’t sure of what their future held and they didn’t know what would have become of them. Rather than running away, scattering, or pursuing individual accolade, they defaulted to what they knew best. They came together, supported each other, served one another. At the feast of Pentecost, they were gathered together in one place, and as they were, Luke records it this way: “They were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” (Acts 2:1-4)
Rather than scattering, they stuck together, cared for each other and somehow, something amazing happened. They were filled with the spirit of creativity and new life. They experienced something they couldn’t have ever imagined or even asked for and then they discovered by the power of the Holy Spirit they were able to live into the gifts they’d been given in powerful kinds of ways, and they began to go and do likewise, working together to change the world.
This is what the church is. It’s a collection of co-workers, of disciples who are known for the work we do, and every week we gather together that we might be filled with a similar kind of spirit, new life, excitement, and then we are to go forth from this place, the same way they did at Pentecost to change the world by sharing our unique talents and gifts. And throughout the week we should celebrate each other’s successes. We should pour into each other as we gather together, to encourage and support and equip each other to go forth from this place to employ the gifts that we’ve been given not so that we could become better than others, but so that we could become better at reflecting God’s image to those around us by making the people around us out in the world wherever we go better. We should look around this world and everything in it with eyes fit for collaboration, for unwrapping limitless possibilities for building community by serving those people around us.
Frederick Buechner on “Vocation”
Vocation: It comes from the Latin “vocare,” to call, and means the work a man is called to by God.
There are all different kinds of voices calling you to all different kinds of work, and the problem is to find out which is the voice of God rather than of Society, say, or the Superego, or Self-Interest.
By and large a good rule for finding out is this. The kind of work God usually calls you to isthe kind of work (a) that you need most to do and (b) that the world most needs to have done.
If you really get a kick out of your work, you’ve presumably met requirement (a), but if your work is writing TV deodorant commercials, the chances are you’ve missed requirement (b). On the other hand, if your work is being a doctor in a leper colony, you have probably met requirement (b), but if most of the time you’re bored and depressed by it, the chances are you have not only bypassed (a), but probably aren’t helping your patients much either.
Neither the hair shirt nor the soft berth will do. The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.
Source: Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC, by Frederick Buechner
Jot down for yourself, and prepare to share with your group as much as you’re comfortablewith, what were the main force or forces that led you to choose the kind of work (paid or unpaid) you currently do. To what extent does your current work meet both requirements a) and b) in Buechner’s quote about vocation?