This is Week 5 of our Generosity Series. Need to start at the beginning? Read the Introduction here.
We don't have to stretch our imaginations to see that Jesus understood the hearts of men and wanted us to live more as a community and less as individuals.
1 Corinthians 12 says:
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ (v. 12)... Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many (v. 14)... f the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? (v. 17)... If they were all one part, where would the body be? (v. 19)... If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.(v. 26-27)
Lesson #4: We are a tribe of people, dedicated to the well-being of others, not preoccupied with ourselves.
Though this lesson of caring for the community has been mentioned in our previous devotions on generosity, it's importance in the Native American view of generosity must be emphasized, not just as a cultural lesson but also as a Christian lesson. This section of Scripture from 1 Corinthians highlights both the oneness of our community and the uniqueness of each individual in it. We are all given unique and important gifts. We are, simply, who God has created us to be, and each of us plays a special and unique role in our world. We are created to care for each other as though we were caring for ourselves.
The concept is easily seen in the historic Native culture. There is the chief, the leader, but not everyone can be a chief. He has special skills and qualities that make him perfect for his role. There are hunters and their "assistants" that prep and cook the food brought back from a hunt. There are spiritual leaders and elders who hold the knowledge of medicine and healing. Each person in a tribe has a role. They know their role, they know their skills, and they perform them to the benefit of the tribe as a whole.
The same goes for our daily lives. Typically, each member of a family has their own roles to play in a home. They aren't always the fun and exciting things to do, sometimes it's even a sacrifice on our part, but it is our way of caring for and being generous to those we love.
And on an even bigger scale, we have our roles in God's community, in our body of believers. But we can't all be missionaries, and we can't all travel the world on mission trips (if you can, go for it!).
Sometimes our place in ministry is small. Sometimes our role causes us to have to sacrifice something else. Sometimes we are called, not to professional ministry, but, to minister to our family and our friends in our own private corners of the world.
But as Paul states in this letter, there is no job too small, no calling that is insignificant in the work of building God's Kingdom. When we dedicate our lives to others and focus on the ministry put in front of us, when we give our time in prayer and volunteer work, when we send our donations to organizations, when we stop focusing on ourselves and turn our eyes to those in need, and when we share the love and grace of Jesus to our community, our tribe, we are being generous.
I pray you have the oppourtinity to show your generosity this upcoming holiday season, that God puts before you the opportunity to focus on others and be reminded that we are all a part of one body.
"When one part is honored, every part rejoices with it!" (v. 26)
P.S. Verse 26 also says: "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it" The Native American part of the body of Christ is suffering, and I would even go so far as to say they have been amputated from our body of Christ due to centuries of failed evangelism. Of the more than 5 million Native American and Alaska Natives in the U.S., less than 5% know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Would you join our LIM TRIBE by committing to a monthly gift so that we, as the body of Christ, can reach more Native Americans with the saving grace of Jesus Christ. We all have a role to play in Native Ministry - help us to honor and rejoice together.