Gifts,Talents, and Christian Community

Cultivating Christian community has been a wonderful journey for our Amadeo community. We have let go of some things that we think have been unhelpful to vibrant Christian community. We have picked a few of those things up again for a time and a purpose - and then laid them aside again. While this has been helpful, we have found it is even more important to look within ourselves and lay down some ways of thinking and yes, some of the ways in which we actually relate to each other. I have to admit it has been the hardest part. Hard because at times I find myself approaching community / relationships on the basis of my strengths and gifts. Strengths and gifting are not bad things in and of themselves, but I have come to see how they can be twisted and smudged when offered as the basis of our belonging and establishing our rank in the community.

Culturally, we often navigate community (even family) using our strengths and gifts as a

we have our deepest needs met as a natural fruit of  a sharing, caring, healthy community

means of exchange. We do X and expect that in exchange we will get Y from someone else in return. These expectations are not always obvious, and when expectations are not met, there are hard feelings. This aside, Christian community is not a place where we trade our gifts and strengths, where we parlay them for the gifts and strengths of others for our personal benefit (even when these ends seem so very pious). This in effect is a voracious consumption of the life of another which we see modeled all around us in our culture. In the Kingdom, healthy community is not one of trading, consumption and leveraging one another, rather one of sharing and relational generosity for the benefit of something bigger than ourselves; understanding we have our deepest needs met as a natural fruit of a sharing, caring, healthy community - we get the lesser with, the greater.

More subtle is the belief that our belonging in the Christian community is based on our ability to perform or the commodity we bring. Our rank or importance to or our authority within the community is often based on the perceived value of what we bring to the community. We subconsciously place a relative value on our gifts and strengths and how they compare to what others bring. While it may not bring direct benefit, it often validates our place in the "pecking order" of the community. This perspective is bred into us from a very early age. However, in the Christian community, the only basis for belonging is Christ - not what we bring to the party. This produces a genuine kind of belonging that releases our gifts and strengths in a very healthy and beautiful way. Our gifts and strengths become an authentic gift when offered with no expectation of return or for power within the community.

In Kingdom community, our gifts, talents, and strengths are for the benefit of others. As we get hold of the reality that Kingdom communities do not steward power/strength the way the power hungry, status lusting, life-consumption-junkie culture does, our communities become those safe places for people to truly belong, partake, share Kingdom life. In the Kingdom, our value, strength, position, and identity is rooted in Christ. It is in healthy Kingdom community that we too learn to love one another freely, with no strings attached.

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