I Corinthians 12:7 NIV
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
Every once in a while, I do something to up my cultural game. I attend a symphony. And one of my favorite moments at the symphony is when the music is not playing at all.
The moment of which I am speaking occurs soon after the chaotic sound of the orchestral instruments, simultaneously being tuned up, has died down. While I am fond of the tuning session because I enjoy the creative process, I wouldn’t want to listen to two hours of everyone fiddling around with their instrument (get it?). Though each musician brings decades of natural gifting, passion, training, and cultivated, inspiring talent to the moment, the tuning portion of the night has them all playing out of accord, doing their own thing, creating a cacophonous wall of disordered sound with no dynamic variation and little attention to what the others are doing.
My favorite moment is the pregnant pause located between the tuning portion of the night and the start of the concert. That moment is electric with anticipation. These virtuoso performers are about to submit their years of experience and their best individual gifts to a shared piece of music.
Yes, there will be solos, duets, quartets, and instances in which the whole orchestra will sound their voices at the same time. But the greatest, hidden joy we will all experience is that the musicians are playing, all together, for a common purpose. They will play for that common purpose, and they will be silent for that common purpose. Some may leave the stage for that common purpose, and others will sound loud and strong for that common purpose.
What is that common purpose, that vocation, that calling? To play the music before them. The musical score is the star of the night; not the individual musicians. Their instrumental diversity will be submitted to their vocational unity, and their vocational unity will be remarkable because of their instrumental diversity. Joy, and beauty, will be the result. For you and for me, Jesus is the music, and we each have a part to play.
“To each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
“To each one . . .” Paul means each person. He means you. He means me. In this context, he means every person who is following Jesus and is a part of the communion of the ekklesia, the called-out ones, the Church. In other words, each one of us has an instrument in our hands. Practice and mentoring have brought us to this opportunity to play—together.
“The manifestation of the Spirit is given . . .” Paul uses a variety of terms to talk about spiritual expression and gifts in 1 Corinthians 12. He used a term that means “things of the Spirit” in verse 1. He used a term that means “gifts of grace from the Spirit” in verse 4. Here in verse 7 he uses the phrase, “manifestation of the Spirit” to express something like a display or an exhibition of the Spirit’s presence and goodness. In other words, we each have music we were uniquely made to make, to put God’s glory on display.
But now, our reason for receiving the unique “manifestation of the Spirit” that is ours is made crystal clear.
“Given for the common good.” The phrase for “common good” speaks of a symphony—coming together for a purpose, a shared vocation, a calling as a family. In a family symphony, your good is why I am gifted. My good is why you are gifted. Our common good as the Body of Christ is why we have been given these gifts of grace—to build up the Church in our most holy faith and to keep us in God’s love (Jude 1:20-21). The overflow of the symphonic unity of the Church in the sharing of spiritual gifts will result in the common good of our homes, churches, and cities. Awakening in the world lies on the other side of the awakening of the Church.
The Father has written our music, the Son is our melody, and the Spirit is teaching us to play it together—for the sake of the world Jesus loves.
Jesus, I receive the Holy Spirit. I honor you today by recognizing that I have been given a unique manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. Come, Holy Spirit, teach me how to serve others well in my community as I champion the common good of your Church. In Jesus’ name, amen.
What is it that you do that, when you do it, you feel the life of the Spirit at work in you—and others seem to respond in a way that they are drawn closer to God?
For the awakening,