Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Spiritual gifts in a context of love create community
Thanks to the Group Chief Executive of Hozelock for demonstrating the illustration of foundational spiritual gifting given below!
AS WE explore God’s desire for community with us, we are looking at the way the Holy Spirit has set spiritual gifts of various kinds in us, the church – with unity and community as the goal.
This is not complicated. There was a time when people would devote a term or a whole course to teaching on spiritual gifts. You can find 20 to 30 listed in different parts of the Bible: is this a complete line-up, or are they being mentioned in a representative way? Already it is starting to sound complicated… and there are plenty of books out there which will take you into this in detail. However, what I am about to share is not like that, but stripped back and simple – accessible, not just for a few ‘experts’, part of the church culture, not part of the ‘platform performance’. You may not have viewed it quite this way before…God does this on three different levels which work together.
The first level is personal – God working through the way He has made us, whether compassionate, mercy type people, or encourager, exhorter type people, or ‘telling’ people or explaining people – “we have different gifts” (Romans 12:6). The sort of people he has made us (Romans 12:6-8) will ‘shape’ what He brings through us – more on that in a moment. God is like a shiny new garden hose with an endless supply of fresh, life-giving water. We are like those nozzles you can adjust to give a soft shower or a piercing jet, or something in between – same water, but different means and modes of delivery. We are diverse but fitted together as a body (Romans 12:5) representing the spread of foundational gifting.
The second level I call situational and it is about the gifts called in the Bible simply ‘spirituals’ although translated as spiritual gifts. These are situational because they come into play, through us different kinds of people (or nozzles), when they need to come, for a need or situation. The gifts listed are just descriptions of ways God – specifically the Holy Spirit – works through us, as we invite Him into our hearts and life events, and let Him take us where He wants to go. Although there are nine gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, what He does comes down to just three things: revelation, raising faith, and impartation. God reveals something prophetically, we recognise that He is present and there’s a certain excitement as faith rises; then our words of faith (and sometimes actions, like sharing Holy Communion or anointing with oil are channels for the impartation which brings change.
It’s not complicated. You probably by now have a rough idea of how you are wired, according to Romans 12. And you have probably, tentatively or otherwise, sought to use spiritual gifts as you have prayed for someone. And you have seen change happen, and heard the stories of others. God is good. We may feel we are fairly rubbish at this – but He still uses us. We are part of His hope for a better world, one which is spiritually in tune with Him and motivated by His love, not selfishness.
Amazingly He uses us – and tells us that He needs us to usher in His kingdom. He does this through His church which He has blessed with some other gifts which are – boring word but accurately descriptive – organisational. More on this in the next couple of posts.