I recently had the privilege of attending a gathering of a few families with whom we have developed varying degrees of relationship over the recent years. The very young to senior citizens were present. As I reflected on the two and a half days together, I was amazed at the ease in which so many different fruit and gifts of the Spirit were manifest during our time.
There are more gifts of the Spirit in the Body than teaching and preaching. If we don’t value all the gifts, and regularly give them room to operate when we gather together, we will not see them. Their absence is not due to some sovereign predetermination on God’s part to “not release them according to His inscrutable will,” or some mystical time table for an alleged end-time revival outpouring. It’s because of our choices. If our expectation of “church” is singing, sermon, and Sunday school (and throw in an altar call for ministry if you want to live on the edge!) that is exactly what we will get. If you are content with that, there is plenty of it available. I don’t believe those three constitute anything remotely resembling the ekklesia of God, the Body of Christ, in full function and action.
Here are the gifts that were plainly evident during the weekend where we, lived, laughed, loved, and ate together:
- word of wisdom
- word of knowledge
- physical healing
- inner healing
- confession and forgiveness
- prayer and intercession
- laying on of hands
- counsel . . . and more
I don’t know how that strikes you, but that is rich for me!
What makes this manifestation of His kingdom unique, is how easy, and low key it was, and what was not there. There was no:
- superstar evangelist/guest speaker working the crowd
- marathon praise and worship service
- a dominant leader assuring the “vision of the house” is maintained
- a worship leader trying to hype a crowd
- altar call, altar service
- emotionally charged, frenetic atmosphere “of the Spirit”
- “show time”
- “order of service” (so to speak)
- “strong anointing” (so to speak)
- youth ministry (but there was ministry to youth!)
- Sunday school
- unusual bodily “manifestations”
- . . . and more
None of these things are necessities for the gifts of the Spirit to be manifest.
Some of those things may be permissible and enjoyable in our Christian liberty. However, when permissible things are thought to be essential things . . . we are in trouble.
It was just a family of believers trying to practice loving one another in relationship, by yielding to the Head of the Body, as the Body yields to the Christ in one another. It actually works . . . the Head can lead His Body . . . if we would actually get out of the driver’s seat and get over a fear-based need to control that masquerades as “providing governmental order and decorum.”
The gifts of the Spirit are not as complicated, nor as mystical as they have been made out to be. They are the logical overflow of life and love in a community that is determined to love each other well. They are as easy as falling off a log where faith, love, and identity security in sonship are present.
The problem is the intellectual (doctrinal/belief systems), emotional (self-absorbed need for a “Jesus buzz”), and psychological (fear, insecurity, judgment, etc.) baggage we bring to the table. It’s amazing to me that the Spirit can accomplish ANYTHING in, for, and through us considering the debris we put in His way–the “no room in the inn” sign we have on our religious soul. That He often does accomplish much, is a miracle in itself!
Jesus’s Kingdom is Meant to be Seen, Not Only Heard
When Jesus walked in Jerusalem, He did not fit the expectations and understandings of those who thought they knew what the Messiah would look like and what He would do for them. He did not meet their expectations intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically. He challenged all three and was a threat to the prevailing order of things. Because of this, He was unrecognized, even resisted.
It is the same with us and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. If we are more interested in a rationalistic sermon or a cathartic/intense meeting that meets some sort of psychic need of dependency in us, we won’t recognize the gifts of the Spirit when they are right in front of us. If we think the pinnacle of spirituality is a precisely exegeted sermon, or if we think some emotional charge is necessary to manifest the gifts of the Spirit, we will miss them. Worse yet, we will likely create an inauthentic culture of cerebral dogmatism on the one hand and hype and pretense on the other.
The default position of the religious human soul is talking–rhetoric, philosophizing, debating. Jesus’s kingdom is meant to be seen, not just heard, and that is what the fruit and the gifts of the Spirit are designed for: to spare believers from the curse and death of sterile rationalism, intellectualism, and dead orthodoxy, and to give the world something that requires a gospel explanation to process. “Look at how they love one another, look at what happens among them . . . what is that?” “How is that possible?”
And there we have it . . . the kingdom platform to share and demonstrate the gospel to people who are hungry and interested, instead of trying to beat them down in the intellectual equivalent of a crusade–conquering them with self-perceived impeccable doctrine and religious debates about whose belief system is correct. We are called to better than that.
The gifts of the Spirit are easy. They just have to be unencumbered from our baggage. If we are in an environment where they are not happening and where “power” is not happening, we don’t need more power. We also don’t need “how-to” seminars in spiritual gift techniques. We just need to excel at love. The gifts are there. They are present in Him, in us. The bullet is in the chamber. Make sure the barrel isn’t clogged, pull love’s trigger, and they will explode around you. Just a little touch on love’s trigger, makes for a big bang.
It’s easy . . . but it is costly . . . to traditions–including Evangelical, Pentecostal, Latter Rain, Charismatic, and Apostolic/Prophetic ones–ego, and man-made agendas.
Love never fails.
Copyright 2014, Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.stevecrosby.org. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact email@example.com.
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