Spotlight 12/2022: Let’s not shut ourselves off
During a pandemic it is important to isolate oneself in order to avert the risk of infection. In our congregational life, however, things look very different: there isolation is a danger, District Apostle Tshitshi Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo warns.
One of the evils eating away at society today is isolation. In congregational life we need mutuality and togetherness instead of isolation in order to face and conquer our common enemy: evil. This mutuality is clearly defined in 1 Corinthians 12: 7: “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.” The manifestation of the gift of the Holy Spirit received should, as a matter of principle, be put at the service of the development of the whole, that is the Church, and not serve our own interests. There is this weakness related to our human ego that pushes us to want to benefit personally rather than the whole.
God has endowed each of us with different talents, gifts, and abilities, thus creating great spiritual diversity within the Church. There is a danger of stifling these gifts of the word, of wisdom, and knowledge that God has placed in us when we no longer free up the time needed to serve the congregation as ordained ministers. Sure, one could say, I am not the only one in the whole Church who has been given these gifts. Yes, but I consider our gift to be important, useful, and unique for the good of those entrusted to us. God has given us a strong faith. We should know that those around us, our congregation, wish to benefit from it.
Through our involvement in the congregation our faith will become contagious. Let us not wait for the life of our congregation to deteriorate and maybe point a finger at the rector, for example, but let us call upon this gift that God has deposited in us to enliven and encourage the congregation again. I am convinced that there is at least one member in each congregation who has this gift. We want to talk about strong congregations, not about a few people with a strong faith.
Verse 10 in 1 Corinthians 12 lists a number of other gifts. I see this as the variety of gifts we can find in the church. Let each of us, therefore, identify the gift that is active in us and, if possible, put it at the service of the congregation for the good of all. Alone and isolated we run the risk of feeling more guilty, thinking that no one can understand us or that our evil is greater than that of others. But by actively engaging in our congregation, we will realise that others do not judge us, on the contrary, they sympathise with us and Jesus is at the centre of everything, ready to forgive us.
We certainly still have a lot to do as a Church, but I am confident that if we all use our gift as a light in the congregation—instead of complaining about what is wrong—we will eventually find a way out. Together we are strong!