Have you ever run into someone who views Christianity more as a hobby than as a true conviction or lifestyle? This type of person probably appears passionate about their walk with Jesus, attends every church social event, and plugs in here and there...at least for a while. Then, when personal trials come along or the church, as a whole, hits a rough patch, the person is suddenly (noticeably!) absent.
In my church experience, I have witnessed a lot of Christians like this. It’s not that they are bad people or that they don’t have a genuine love for God; however, their overall commitment level is low.
When we consider the dimensions of the Triune God, the color “red reminds us of what Jesus has done for us on the cross. At the same time, it is a symbol of our commitment to Him” (Schwarz, 2001, p. 18). Philippians 2:5–8 sums it up like this:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (ESV)
Taking Up Our Cross
When we study the life of Jesus, we cannot get away from the fact that a walk with Him is one of sacrifice. Jesus clearly said to His disciples, ““If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24–25, ESV). We see that Jesus Himself demonstrated great sacrifice–up to the point of giving His own life for us. We also see throughout the New Testament that His disciples embraced this lifestyle, many of them dying painful deaths for the sake of the cross.
Being followers of Christ comes with a cost. It means sacrificing our lives (literally or figuratively) to God. This self-sacrificial posture can only come out of obedience to God. Many times, it is tempting to “take a step back” from the church when things get hard or to “take a break” when we feel that God is not close. After all, that is what the world around us tells us is the right thing to do–sometimes even masked under the guise of “self-care.”
Red Spiritual Gifts
Each color dimension has gifts that are associated with that trait and/or the revelation of the Triune God. Red gifts relate to proclaiming the gospel and helping people grow in their knowledge of (and relationship with) Jesus. Because of this, you will find that most of the gifts in this category enable us to fill various leadership positions within the church.
Red spiritual gifts include:
Apostle: The gift of apostle enables Christians to be recognized as spiritual leaders by a variety of churches. An apostle’s responsibility typically extends beyond his/her local church; their authority is independent of any specific office they hold.
Counseling: Counseling enables Christians to serve others through comfort, admonition, and encouragement so that they can experience help and healing. The ministry of counseling does not require a long-term relationship with the people receiving the ministry.
Evangelism: Christians with the gift of evangelism communicate the gospel to non-Christians in a manner that is conducive to leading them to faith.
Helps: The gift of helps, like the gift of mercy, focuses on individual people. It enables Christians to place their own gifts at the disposal of other Christians, which lightens their loads.
Leadership: The trademark of a true leader is that he or she does not have to assert his or her own leadership authority. This gift enables Christians to set goals for the church and communicate them in such a way that others are motivated to achieve them.
Missionary: Christians with the gift of missionary enjoy leaving their own culture in order to establish a new home and ministry in a foreign culture, allowing them to use their other gifts in another culture.
Service: The gift of service focuses on assisting a group or organization. People with this gift are typically good at recognizing jobs that need to be done and are willing to do the job themselves.
Shepherding: The gift of shepherding enables Christians to assume long-term, personal responsibility for the wellbeing of a group of believers.
Singleness: The gift of singleness enables Christians to live happily as singles–many times, more happily than they would be if they were married. Also, their singleness actually enables them to use their other gifts more effectively.
Teaching: Those who have the gift of teaching are able to communicate truth in a manner that enables others to learn, which contributes to the overall health of the church.
It is important to keep in mind that not all believers have all gifts–or even all colors of gifts. If you find that you do not possess any of red spiritual gifts, don’t be discouraged. The Spirit gives gifts at His discretion. Our role is to accept and utilize the gifts we have been given. Then, as the body of Christ, we must come together as a community so that our gifts can complement each other.
Do Not Be Conformed . . .
Paul warns us against conforming to the pattern of the world. He advises us to renew our minds. “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). God’s standard is different than the standard of the world. Yet being in “God’s will” is worth more than all the worldly approval we could ever have.
Commitment to God is HARD. However, nowhere in the Bible are we told that it’s meant to be easy. We cannot claim that the Christian walk is “false advertising,” because when we look at the direct example of Jesus’ life, we see that His life was hard, too. Through the use of red spiritual gifts, we can share the hope and promise of a brighter tomorrow: the promise of eternity in Heaven with God.
Schwarz, C. A. (2001). The 3 colors of ministry. St. Charles, IL: ChurchSmart Resources.