“I was built for comfort, not for speed.” Maybe you’ve heard someone say that when joking about their physique. Maybe they said it because they were truly content with their body shape, or maybe they were trying to avoid talking about a painful subject: their destiny because of their genes.
Each of us has our own unique genetic limitations and potential. Some people are born with broad shoulders and others will never reach 5 feet tall. But few natural power-lifters (short, stocky people) will easily and successfully shape their God-given tendencies toward a different type of fitness and become great marathon runners. Some things, like body types, are simply beyond our ability to change. So what is our potential – physically and spiritually? And what if we’re not satisfied? Maybe you’re beginning to realize that all of the physical images of the gospel in this devotional series are inter-related: balance, breath, flexibility, form, etc. So what does God say about our “genes‟?
As I mentioned before, when I was teenager I wanted to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. When I noticed that I was getting taller but not any thicker, I was a little depressed. But when I noticed that we were the same height, I figured there was a chance. Great logic, huh?
Still, I bought his book, followed his advice, and kept a journal. And I was making progress and feeling good, except for one thing. His chest muscles looked like two concrete blocks forming a deep, straight crevasse between them. Mine had a gaping hole like someone had taken an ice cream scoop to my chest. When I asked a friend how I could fill it in, and he said, “You can’t. You’d have to be born-again by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s parents for that to be possible.” Wow! What a perfect picture of the gospel!
For us to have a new “genetic‟ potential, we need a new Father. And that’s exactly what Jesus says in John 3:3. Some versions of the New Testament translate His original statement as “ye must be born again” and others render it “ye must be born from above”. In fact, the original language can be translated either way. Maybe that’s intentional to show the same truth in two different ways: real change must come by truly starting over, but it’s not enough to have physical potential, human will or others’ desires (John 1:12-13). The new source must also be a spiritual re-creation from God.
Physical genes can provide a foundation only for physical potential, but when we are born again we have a new spiritual potential from our new Father! And, just as He creates all children physically different from each other, He recreates His spiritual children with different expressions of their potential. So what is our potential? Consider 1 Corinthians 12.
Verses 4-13 remind us that, even though God re-creates us with different spiritual abilities (supernatural giftedness in discernment, teaching, etc.), the source of all these is His Spirit and the unified purpose is the common good of His people (vs. 7). Sounds pretty good so far, right?
Now remember to be mindful – open to whatever God pours into our lives. Notice verse 11. Our Lord also gives different portions of these gifts to each of us. Does that mean He makes some people great at something and others only good at the same thing? Yes! Romans 12:3ff is even more specific that God gives us different measures of faith. Does that mean He re-births some who will be virtually fearless and others who will struggle against fear? It seems so! But why?!
The twelfth chapter of both letters point to God’s design for His Body: joyful interdependence under its Head, Jesus. Look at verses 14-21 in the letter to the Corinthians. Paul recognizes that some are dissatisfied with the “genes‟ they received from their Father and are envious of others. Others seem to be boastful as if they received what is most important. But verses 22-26 require us to be especially mindful and open. Have you considered that He may have created you or me as weaker, less honorable, or un-presentable so that we need others’ strength or special attention? Humble me, Lord! There will be times that I need others more than they need me!
Physically, a son or daughter might not like the freckles or frizzy hair from their biological Dad. We might also feel that we’re stuck with what our heavenly Father has given us as His spiritual children. But 1 Corinthian 12:18 tells us that “now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him”. God created His Body for interdependent relationships of love.
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