Monday, August 16, 2010
The subject of Spiritual Gifts is very confusing. Christianity has done a fine job murdering this subject.And therein lies my beef with most of Pentecostalism.
Spiritual gifts are first of all spiritual. They are not physical gifts you were born with, they are spiritual gifts you are re-born with.
Spiritual gifts don’t show up by psycho-analyzing yourself. Spiritual gifts work by studying and knowing the Giver.
Spiritual gifts are not primarily exercised when we have a better self-image. In fact, spiritual gifts are best exercised when we have a very realistic view of who we are in the flesh plus a realistic view of who Christ is.
Spiritual gifts are not about you.
- "I am blessed by my spiritual gift."
- "My spiritual gift allows me to...."
- "As a person gifted to do x, I should not have to do y."
Which leads me to that most touchy of subjects - tongues. Consider:
I Cor. 14:5 - Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.Tongues, it seems, is self-edifying. And that is OK - after all, it is given by God, but since it is self-edifying, keep it to yourself.
Being a Christian, in all its expressions - the gifts included - is about being pulled out of yourself and learning to live solely for God's benefit, which means typically for the benefit of others. I am so tired of evangelism that "sells" Christianity as a means of self-improvement, self-actualization, or simply self- help. That's not what it is. Those things happen, but they are by-product, they are not the point.
And the most interesting thing is that we cannot even hope to achieve them until we stop trying to. The more we talk about them, the more we are focused on them - the more we are focused on ourselves - the less likely we are to actually get whatever it is we come to Christianity hoping to get. I cannot help but recall the words to a wonderful hymn:
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.