July 4, 2022

God’s Abundant Love and Spiritual Gifts 16-01-2022

16th January 2022 (Second Sunday after the Epiphany) Title: God’s Abundant Love and Spiritual Gifts (Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:1–11 & John 2:1–11)

By Heeyoung Lim

In what ways does God continue to bring abundance into the world today? In what ways does Jesus’ life and ministry reveal God’s abundance to us?

In John 2:1–11, Jesus’ ministry gains public awareness at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. There was His mother, Mary who seems to already know and trust in the works of Jesus. When the wine gave out, and the host got in trouble, Mary called on Jesus to help. She trusts Jesus’ ability to respond to this need and leads others to experience such trust too.

She tells the servants: “Do whatever He tells you.” This story emerges as a strong witness to Mary’s faith and trust, and the servants experience Jesus’ ability and work when they obey His words. When Jesus said, “Fill the jars with water”, servants “filled to the brim.” Those servants were obedient to the word of the Lord and showed faithful obedience. Through the turning of the water into wine, Jesus is revealed. This miracle speaks of God bringing abundance into follower’s obedience and activities. God’s glory is revealed, and the disciples believe in Jesus.

What is truly amazing in this story is the abundance of wine Jesus offers at the wedding party, and this story emerges as a strong witness to Mary’s faith and trust. Jesus provides the best wine at the end of the feast. Wedding celebrations in Bible times lasted several days with much food, drink, music, and fellowship, and hospitality was foremost. Jesus provided all participants with the best hospitality when the wine was gone.

This would have been unheard of at that time. It is a reversal of worldly expectations. The steward is confused about the origin of the wine, but the servants who obeyed Jesus’ word and had drawn the water know the work of Jesus and experience His miracle.

An impossible miracle happened, and the servants who obeyed the Lord knew that Jesus had done it. Jesus’ life and ministry reveal God’s abundance to us too. When was the time when we experienced God’s

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abundance in our life? It can be all different, but we should always remember and give thanks for the abundant love and grace that God has bestowed upon us. As an expression of gratitude, we should never overlook an opportunity for service, ministry, and work to others through our lives.

Jesus clearly understood and obeyed that his purpose on earth was to bring glory to the Father and to save people. Weddings or family celebrations can be opportunities for families to glorify God and witness their faith. In celebrations or gatherings, Jesus must be the focus of our lives. Weddings and gatherings create opportunities for service to God, and the master of the banquet and gatherings is Jesus. I believe that we can glorify God in our lives through our faith and obedience. On our special and precious days, I hope that we will all be able to take our Lord as the master and glorify God. Let us think about how Jesus has revealed His glory in us. May we glorify God in all aspects of our lives, including public worship and public parties.

In 1 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul touched spiritual gifts in the church and the value of the gifts. He explained the role of the gifts of the Spirit with the value of diverse gifts in the worship of God. The Corinthians’ pagan background made them susceptible to being misled by supernatural manifestations.

In this situation, Paul mentioned identifying the Spirit and the unity and diversity of the Spirit’s manifestations. The gifts of the Spirit are manifold, and each is important in the worship of God and the ministry of the church. There are different kinds of gifts, service, and working. Yet, each variety is associated with the same Spirit, the same Lord, or the same God.

We do receive spiritual gifts as God sees fit according to His grace. Spiritual gifts are primarily for the common good and the purpose of building up faith communities. The spiritual states of our fellow believers affect us personally because we are members of one another. We are all lovely church family and spiritual friends. May we be spiritual friends, family, and teachers to each other. If we do not use the spiritual gifts God has given us for the common good of the community, those precious gifts can be misused.

We need to look for ways to use our gifts in the service of the church and encourage others to do so as well. We must not take spiritual pride or

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feel superior in our spiritual gifts. On the other hand, we must not feel inferior if our spiritual gifts are not as impressive as the gifts of others.

There are noticeable or inconspicuous spiritual gifts, but nothing is more important or less important. May we actively pursue spiritual gifts rather than earthly desires. As God’s people, we live with abundant love and spiritual gifts that stand in contrast to the world’s realities. Although some kinds of spiritual gifts, services, and works go unnoticed in human eyes, God sees and pleases them, and it benefits the church.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are varieties of service, but the same Lord. There are many kinds of working, but the same God at work. (4-6) All spiritual gifts are all important to the church because they come from the Holy Spirit. Each one in the church has received different gifts, not because of differences in qualifications or circumstances, but according to only the standard the Spirit determines.

Paul listed nine manifestations of spiritual gifts: Message of wisdom, message of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues. All gifts are given for the common good and may indicate that this manifestation of the Spirit takes different forms at different times. Today’s words offer a refreshing reminder that faith, while personal, is never private, and that the gift each person has been given is meant to be shared. Faith and service need to be individual as well as communal.

As in verse 11, all spiritual gifts are activated by one and the same Spirit. In the media and digital environment, many younger generations communicate through numerous social media accounts such as Tiktok, Tweeter, Instagram, and Facebook, etc. but sometimes they deactivate their accounts or indicate their status by displaying slow, rest, or busy. For many reasons, our lives and services sometimes seem to have been deactivated, and slow, rest, or busy conditions continue from time to time. As a Christian, may our lives and services be activated again by the power of the Holy Spirit. Today’s text tells us that all spiritual gifts are activated by the Holy Spirit.

The Season after the Epiphany is a good time to reflect upon the ways that God’s abundant love and Spirit are at work among us. We are lovely church family and spiritual friends in God’s unending love. Every Christian is a necessary, beneficial member of the church, and all members are precious because every single person is Lord’s sheep.

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We remember that Jesus turned water into wine and gave abundance out of nothing. Jesus will give us the best wine, the best gift of the Lord, even at a place that seems to be the last of the feast or the second half of our life. We can hope even where there seems to be none, for we are guided by the Holy Spirit in God’s abundant love. The Bible tells us today, “Do whatever Jesus tells us for the common good with our spiritual gifts in God’s abundant love. May we glorify God in all aspects of our lives through our faith and obeying Jesus’ words.

Thanks be to God! Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)

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