The Modern Heresy of Spiritual gifts

The conversation is almost always the same:

"I don't know where to serve because I don't know my spiritual gift"
"I don't know of a ministry where I can exercise my spiritual gift."
"If we knew our gifts better, we could cooperate with God and be used more powerfully by him"

Now, my initial response of "...first world problem," admittedly, is not really helpful, but I am concerned that spiritual gifts have become a commodity, a kind of product or thing one may posses that adds value to life.  Instead of being seen as a grace from God, something wonderful and extra, our church leadership theories have turned them into the key to unlocking your place in the Kingdom of God.

Which seems to contradict everything Jesus and the church after him were trying to do.

It is a troubling indication that our Christian imaginations have become totally captured by the industrial, modern business world.  "Discover your spiritual gift and be fulfilled!"   "Know your gifting so that God can use you!"  These are the subtle messages preached in churches in an effort to mobilize people.  Christian leadership gurus and their books have turned spiritual gifts into a framework to organize the church around, a supernatural structure.  I just don't think that is what Paul was driving at when he spoke of them.  The Gospel message is that everyone has a place regardless of distinctions, is it not?

So what would it look like for the spiritual gifts to truly be gifts, and not just commodities for discovering how you are a religious cog to push the church machine forward?

This issue is particularly acute because people can feel that their belonging in a community is based on their gifting.  Pastor Kevin and I have wondered if this is particularly acute for Asian Americans raised in Evangelical churches because it fits so well with both Confucian ideas about family roles and Evangelical assumptions about business, efficiency and church.  But our giftedness doesn't secure a place for us in community, Jesus' death and resurrection does.  We need to examine in depth why we feel that gifts create a place for us in God's local family instead of Jesus.  Besides, it is within community gifts emerge and are identified. They are for the body, not an individually possessed personality indicator granting club access. 

Nor is there biblical support to be found that spiritual gifts provide an "Ultimate Christian Destiny" (TM).  Jesus did not have the gift of miracles.  He was a miracle.  He did not have the gift of hanging on the cross - he was a humble servant, and that seems far and away what the church has confessed. 

So I wonder how to cultivate a sense of awe and anticipation surrounding the work of the Holy Spirit.  I want to confesses and practice spiritual gifts rightly, but I am torn sometimes because it might be  more prophetic to ignore them in church and practice a simpler hope for god's miracles.  Because He's that good.



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