This week we have (haven’t we?) been thinking about Spiritual Gifts (the main topic of conversation on Sunday Morning in the Forum). Rather than cite scholarly sources (which I have been reading), rather than offering extensive quotes, I will offer my current understanding of Spiritual Gifts as an invitation for you to also share.
You and I do not have to be experts, scholars, or theologians, to have an opinion and an understanding by which we live our faith—though it is helpful to let these opinions and understandings mature as they guide us (i.e., let them change as we gain more experience and understanding).
For brevity I will offer an “Executive Summary” of my current understanding. This is not meant to be exhaustive or the definitive “last word” on the topic of Spiritual Gifts—you know, I’m still learning a lot.
- Everyone, including me, is gifted by God in some way
- Gifted by God is foundational: God chooses which Spiritual Gift to offer, God takes the initiative, always
- We choose to accept the gift or not (we always have this freedom, another gift of God’s initiative)
- We choose to exercise the gift or not (don’t you love this gift of free will?). My own experience tells me that the choice to exercise the gift (or not) ebbs and flows like a tide (though not so regularly). Sometimes I do this easily and well and for a prolonged period (you could float a boat); at other times it is as if I have amnesia (or sloth) and the gift is not used (that boat is mired in the tidal mud).
- The Spiritual Gift is meant (by God) to be used for the well-being of the Body of Christ (=the Church) and for the welfare of all God’s people and all of God’s creation (=the world). It is not meant to be hoarded, it is not meant to a personal delight nor a self-esteem booster—it is meant to be shared for the good of all (inside and outside the Church, indeed, to be shared for the good of all creation).
- I’m still working out what the Spiritual Gifts are (according to our “teachers” in the Bible and in our Christian Tradition). As you heard Stan mention on Sunday there are multiple internet resources for exploring the meaning of and kinds of Spiritual Gifts.
- Believing the Church (at its best) to be organic, living, changing, adapting—the “Body” of Christ—the gifts (from God) are meant to part of an organic whole, not part of some grand Organizational Flow Chart.
- Closely linked to the organic nature of the Church is that the local church may need different gifts at different times (as communities and their needs change) so I believe a couple of things can happen: the gift you’re given changes to meet the new needs and/or new members are brought into the community with the necessary gifts to meet the new (changing) needs.
That’s probably enough for now. What do you think? What would you like to add (for me and others)? How can we grow together in our understanding of God’s generosity? Leave a comment, please. Let’s see where the Spirit will lead us.