Thank you to Paul Martin for today’s reflection.
What an amazing verse we had on Sunday morning: “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”! It’s 1 Corinthians 12:7 and featured in Peter Nodding’s third point about the presence of God.
Forgive me for telling you (again) what the verse says in different versions of the Bible – it’s my way of trying to get behind the words to the meaning. The Holy Spirit works in each person in one way or another for the good of all is what the New Living Version has. “Manifestation” is a long word and I reckon “works in each person” is easier to grasp!
The Names of God Bible is not a version I’ve ever read before, but its translation, The evidence of the Spirit’s presence is given to each person for the common good of everyone, made me think. Peter preached to us about staying close to the presence of God just as the Israelites were commanded to keep the ark of the Lord in sight as they crossed the Jordan. What “evidence of the Spirit’s presence” should we be looking for?
To my mind, that evidence would be an outward sign that the Spirit is within us.
Two things are very clear in the verse: (1) there is evidence of the Spirit’s indwelling in each person and (2) this evidence brings good to all. In the context of the chapter we would be right to understand “each person” as every member of the body of Christ and “to all” as including the whole body. Peter rightly said that no one in the church should think that this verse does not apply to them. It’s not some “special people” that God’s Spirit will use to bless the rest of us. Nor should anyone who has been blessed by the Spirit think that it’s just for them: it’s to all and for all.
After twelve weeks of being physically separated from each other, it’s good to be reminded by this verse of how inter-dependent we are. Not that the Spirit is limited by physical distance – he has been blessing all of us as a body through speakers like Peter (and even Jonathan!) – but it has been difficult for us to see the evidence of the Spirit in each person when we have not been meeting together.
So, I’ve been asking myself, what evidence of the Spirit’s presence can I see in myself and, if we were together, how might that be a blessing to the whole body? Perhaps it’s a good question for all of us to think about. In case you think this is only about the spiritual gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians, it’s not: the word in this verse is “manifestation” – the way the Spirit works in each of us in one way or another (NLV). Have you heard God speak to you through his Holy Spirit? Have you been prompted by the Spirit to perform an act of kindness for a neighbour? Have you felt the urge to pray for someone? There is no end to the variety of ways the Spirit makes himself evident, only some of them are spectacular or miraculous.
I know I’ve been missing a lot over the last three months. Now I can put my finger on just what it is: we need to be together as a body. As much as my home group blesses me and the other groups I meet with on Zoom, I want to see everyone and “see” the Spirit in each one. That’s the way we can bring our church’s unique offering to the Lord and the sooner we can, the better!