Have you ever tried something new, that you either had interest in or your parents encouraged you to try? When I was a little girl, my parents encouraged me to play softball, partly because my sister was already playing and partly I suppose because they wanted me to participate in something that involved teamwork. Needless to say, I was a terrible softball player. I lacked the focus to pay attention to what was happening in the game, the coordination to catch and throw the ball, and the desire to improve. So I was put in the outfield, where very few 5 year olds could actually hit the ball, and I would sit in the grass, take off my glove, and play. I'd weave pieces of grass together, or make whistles, and completely ignore the rest of the team. In some ways, I think it was my subtle, or not so subtle way of telling my parents I didn't want to play softball.
Sometimes though, I try something because I want to learn or experience something new. There are times when I am good at what ever it is, but there are other times when I'm not, when as much as I try, I'll never be as good as the person across the way who makes it seem so easy. I think it is in these experiences that we need to remember that we don't have to be just like everyone else. Paul says that the church is like a body. Some of us are arms, some of us are legs, some of us are mouths, and some of us are eyes, and ears, and there are times when the arms want to try out what it is like to be a mouth, or the mouth decides it wants to be a foot. The problem is the mouth doesn't have toes or bones or any of the things it needs to be feet, just like the feet don't have the muscles needed to be a mouth. Paul writes to the Corinthian church, “As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it. If they were all one part, where would the body be?” (I Cor. 12:18-19 Message/NIV). Can you imagine if a person was only eyes, or noses? They would look pretty funny. Thankfully God made us each with all our body parts so that as individuals we can all walk and talk and do things with our hands. When I was playing Softball as a little girl I was trying, or not trying as is evident by my behavior, to be someone that wasn't right for me. Paul says that God has given each of us different abilities, or gifts, and what makes us a church, or one body, is when we use all of our gifts together to serve God by sharing who Jesus is and what he did for us, and by remembering to praise God for all he does and who he is.
Here in Peru, the church is learning to work together and share their gifts with one another. We help each other with the things that need doing. Paty is really good at math, so she helps when we need to do math, and Alfredo is good at talking to important people and knowing which people need to be talked to. Etelvina is good at inviting her friends to come to church and to study the bible. Each person does something different and each person, when they use the gifts that God gave them, praises God.
What do you think God has given you? Is there something you are really good at? How can you use your gift to praise God? How can you use it to share Jesus with other people?