What We Can Learn About Spiritual Gifts from the Military

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Feet and knees together, eyes on the horizon, feet and knees together, eyes on the horizon, feet and knees to…’THUD’… hit the ground at 17mph, conduct a parachute landing fall, pull the canopy release assembly before getting dragged, open my m1950 weapons case, put my rifle into operation, check my surroundings, pack up my parachute, secure my equipment, ruck up and move out to the assembly point, gather my platoon and secure our objective.

As part of the 82nd Airborne Division, this was my personal, and quite uncomfortable perspective on multiple “Joint Operations Access Exercise” where my unit along with thousands of other paratroopers and Air Force personnel trained to execute the 82nd Airborne’s mission with flawless precision. The mission of the 82nd Airborne Division is to, within 18 hours of notification, strategically deploy, conduct forcible entry parachute assault, and secure key objectives for follow-on military operations in support of U.S. national interests.

Each training exercise takes thousands of well-trained and focused service men and women across multiple branches of the military, all intentionally playing their part, to result in a successful operation. Some people have to fly the planes, some people have to jump out of the planes, some have to push equipment out of planes, and all are in differing levels of authority. If just one person fails to execute their assigned task, the ramifications can significantly affect the mission for thousands of others.

Seeing such a massive operation in action reminds me how intentional the military is with each job, position, and soldier. When we read Paul’s description of the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12, as we did last weekend, we see how intentional God is with every person that is a follower of Christ.  My experience in the 82nd Airborne is merely a minuscule representation of what God has done on a global and eternal scale with his people.

As we saw last weekend, Paul uses the imagery of a body in 1 Corinthians 12 to describe how every Christian as a unique role and purpose in their life.

1 Corinthians 12:12-21 says:

12The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.

14Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?

18But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”

Paul is reminding us that each part of the body is intentionally placed to fulfill its purpose. You are where you are with the gifts you have been given because God wanted it to be that way! Most of us have heard or read this passage before, and nobody really claims to be confused by it. Yet, we often fail to put the truths of this passage into practice in our individual life.

If the military can put this idea of each person intentionally purposed for a role and task into practice to accomplish worldly pursuits, how much more important is it that the church, the followers of Christ, put this into practice when there are eternal implications at stake.

What do we do in light of the truth that God has intentionally given us a purpose?

First, we should look at life through a different lens. Begin to consider where you have been placed, your position, as part of your purpose. The school you go to, the neighborhood you live in, the job you have, the family you live with, the circumstances you find yourself in, you are there for a reason.

Second, don’t complain! Instead of complaining, embrace your purpose. No matter where you are, you are there to make Jesus known, to let others know they matter to God, and to make an eternally positive and lasting impact.

Your mission is to embrace your position so you can fulfill your purpose; the body of Christ requires it.


Do you view where you are in life as Gods intentional purpose for you?


Have you been complaining about where God has placed you?


How can you better embrace your purpose of affecting the sphere of influence that God has given you?


Dear God,

You are bigger than I can fathom. You are all knowing and all powerful. You know me better than I know myself. In your ultimate wisdom, you have created me with a purpose. You have placed me where I am at in life, with the gifts you have given me, for a reason. Forgive me for complaining about the way you have created me or desiring something different. Help me embrace the purpose you have given me now and every day going forward. You are good. Amen.

This post was written by Alex Woody. Alex is the Director of Students at the West Toledo Campus of CedarCreek Church. He has an amazing wife and two joy-filled daughters who can regularly be found filling the West Toledo lobby with laughter and smiles.

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