Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The tension of spiritual gifts

The local church functions as a church only when its members are exercising their spiritual gifts. And below is a passage to remind us ALL gifts are vital for the health, mission, and multiplication of more churches.

1Cor. 12:14   For the body does not consist of one member but of many.  15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.  16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.  17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?  18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.  19 If all were a single member, where would the body be?  20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

We need constant reminders that the public positions like teaching and preaching are not to be viewed as more important than more behind the scenes gifts like encouragement, mercy, hospitality, discernment, etc....But I'm realizing that even when gifts are believed to be equally important, there is still an issue. Knowing that alone doesn't help people get along. For instance, we can recognize the need for the diversity of gifts, but getting along within that diversity of gifts can become quite labor intensive. Someone gifted in teaching may not get along as well with someone gifted in evangelism; both can recognize the importance of the other, but they still don't live harmoniously.

We know that the Spirit doesn't give ALL gifts to each individual person. You wouldn't need community if that were the case. Instead he chooses to gift particular people with particular gifts. So not everyone is gifted at everything. Nothing new there. But what I'm beginning to think is that what makes someone gifted at one thing, makes them not so gifted at another, and in turn makes them more annoying to another. 

The person gifted in evangelism may not be as gifted in discipleship. He/she may be great at meeting, and making new contacts, have a boldness in sharing his/her faith, and see great fruit in his/her evangelism (new disciples are made). However that boldness might make them less tactful within the body of Christ or less patient with others to grow in their faith. The adventure of sharing the gospel, could make the laborious work of teaching or teaching prep seem like busy work. When you put these two people together on a team, what makes them so uniquely gifted, can be the very thing that causes friction between them. One is more bent toward reaching those outside the church and the other toward building up the body (although all believers are called to play some role in both). 

The person administratively gifted paired up with someone who is more creative and merciful, can obviously bring some tension. The creative merciful person might get his/her feelings hurt simply because he/she is more empathetic. What makes him/her merciful, is the very thing that might make him/her not good as a leader/administrator And what makes him/her creative, is what will drive the administrative person nuts. 
This is obviously true with personalities, but I'm beginning to think its also true with spiritual gifts.

The solution is to recognize not just that we are different and need each other, but that the very gift that makes us effective in one area, makes us ineffective in another. The very thing that makes us good in one area can (it doesn't always) then make relationships with those of differing gifts quite difficult.

But then we really do have to celebrate the gifts of others and recognize that if they were the way we wanted them to be, they wouldn't have the same gifting and personality and wouldn't bring to the body of Christ what we need them to bring (via the Spirit of course). And we need their gifts, even when their gifts will can bring tension.  We have to celebrate all the gifts, recognizing that differing gifts will bring both blessing and tension.

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