1 Corinthians 12:1-11

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good

It seems like the church in the city of Corinth was similar to every other church I have been a part of.  There were a lot of gifts, a great vision, and some challenges.  One of the challenges every Christian community will face is how to stay focused and move forward.  There are little fractures, committee silos, and potential divisiveness in every church community.  For the Corinthians, it was their gifts that threatened to pull them apart.  The Apostle Paul reminded them of a vital truth, our God given gifts are meant for good.

The talents, abilities, and passions we are given have a purpose.  This purpose exceeds our own personal benefit and goes beyond our circle of friends.  We are given skills, insights, and dreams in order that the wider community might be uplifted.  Our spiritual gifts are meant for the common good.

A little over a year ago Pope Francis wrote a letter (more like a book) to the church about fraternity and social friendship.  In it he looked to the story of the Good Samaritan as an illustration of what the “common good” means.  He wrote,

“Let us look to the example of the Good Samaritan. Jesus’ parable summons us to rediscover our vocation as citizens of our respective nations and of the entire world, builders of a new social bond. This summons is ever new, yet it is grounded in a fundamental law of our being: we are called to direct society to the pursuit of the common good.”

The “common good” stems from the conviction of the dignity, unity, and equality of all people.  It pursues the question, how can create conditions which allow people to fully grow into their core identity and fulfill their God given potential.  In other words, our God given gifts are meant to help others actualize their God given gifts.  Through this ever building, ever expanding action the creativity and grace of God is magnified.  When our voice, our influence, our skills are used to diminish, isolate, or divide we are using them in a way that is completely opposite of their purpose.

God is glorified when we use our God given gifts to liberate, build up, and bless.