I was reading about a pastor who said that every time he dedicates a baby, he is extremely aware of the necessity for the variety of gifts in his congregation. And I understand what he means. When I do a baby dedication, I not only ask the parents to dedicate themselves to the Christian nurture of their child, I also ask the congregation as a whole. Of course, everyone always answers “yes.” And I believe people mean it. But unless everyone is exercising the gifts God has given them – that can wind up being an empty promise.
There are so many ways to illustrate the importance of working together as the Church: parts in a machine, organs in the human body, even the ecosystem in which we live. We are learning, more and more, that if anything gets out of balance, the whole system suffers. In both the physical and spiritual realms, we are dependent upon each other for entering into the abundant life God has promised.
So how are you doing at exercising the gifts God has given you? Are you encouraging others to exercise the gifts God has given to them? How well are you operating as a part of a living body – made up of distinctly different, but completely essential parts? How you answer that question may be more important than you realize. Life – both in this world and the next – depends on it.
I found a story that is a stark reminder of this very fact. It happened in South Dakota some years ago when a little boy wandered away from his home. The parents couldn’t find him. For three days hundreds of people moved through the prairie, hoping to find the boy before he succumbed to the elements. On the morning of the fourth day, one of the searchers said, “Let us get organized in one long line. We’ll join hands and sweep up and down the prairie until we find the boy.” They formed a line a quarter of a mile long. On the third sweep they found the boy. He was lying dead, in a small ditch behind some brush. Gently the boy’s body was carried to where the mother was waiting. When they put the dead boy in his mother’s arms, there was complete silence for a moment. Then she looked up and said: “Why didn’t you join hands sooner? Why didn’t you join hands sooner?”
Why didn’t we?