1 Corinthian 12:4,7,27 Now there are varieties of gifts… To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good…. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
When life fell apart three years ago, due to my addiction, it appeared that my marriage and career were over. My faith was a wreck as well. At the bottom, it felt that all my life amounted to was my addiction.
If I had any chance at salvaging anything, I needed to clean up and I needed to get to treatment. At Teen Challenge (a Christian 12-step inpatient program) I met counselors, many of whom had a history of addiction themselves. Though they too, had once known the bottom, they had found God and recovery and now they were giving of themselves to help others.
I wanted what they had. They had God, faith and sobriety. They found their purpose in this life, turning their disaster into service for God and for others. I realized that they kept their sobriety and faith by giving it away. Though I wanted what they had, I could not imagine getting there. I could not imagine God using me. I was an absolute disaster. I thought I was finished, but God was not done with me. I still had some part to play.
Paul, in today’s passage, insisted that we all have a part to play in the body of Christ. We have all been gifted in some way for service to him. As Jesus physically left this earth long ago, we are now to be his physical presence here. As we are often reluctant participants in the body of Christ, I have never found his plan to be a great one. It seems to me that if God wants something done, that He should probably rely on someone more, well, reliable.
How many times have I refused to obey God? I doubt that I can thwart God’s ultimate plan, but I can be disobedient. In treatment, I realized that I desperately wanted to be who God wanted me to be. Even if that meant just being an armpit in the body of Christ, I was ready. I had known the misery of following me, so I was ready to follow God and play my part, no matter how small.
After I got out of treatment, I started going to the local jail. I went, intending to help others. I quickly realized that it is in being obedient to God that He transforms me. My faith and sobriety grow as I share my life with others. I keep what I have by giving it away.
I have often wanted God, faith and recovery without being willing to do what it takes to get there. I desired the benefits of God without obedience to him. If I want to know God and recovery though, obedience is not optional. If I want God, I need to use those gifts He has given me to reach out to those in need around me.
If I think being a Christian is just an intellectual grasp of a thing, if I never allow my faith change my behavior and if I refuse to play my part in the body of Christ, then I may find myself dreadfully mistaken about belonging to the body. If though, like those counselors in treatment, I use what I have to help others, then I play my part in his body. In doing so, I find God, faith and recovery.