Thursday, June 12, 2008

Manifestation Destiny

I'd like to explore the notion of spiritual gifts for a while. Since this will be a topical exploration, we'll start broadly and then narrow our focus over time and postings...

Let us begin with the difference between a manifestation of the Holy Spirit and a gift of the Holy Spirit. There are two levels of inspiration to what are commonly called gifts today. As I will use the word throughout this series, a gift is something that is resident in the gifted person, and correlates to the gift/service/working level mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6. It is taken to oneself and possessed by the believer. It may develop over time, but it is without repentance (from God). It is the body part a believer is. When I refer to a manifestation of the Holy Spirit, I mean a momentary effect or evidence that the Spirit of God is in action though a person, and which correlates to the manifestations listed in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11. These may or may not be indicative of that person's actual giftedness.

Every Christian is gifted by God with some resident ability or abilities that make that believer of indispensable utility to the body of Christ. I would liken these skills to the plying of a trade in the world at large. Though each trade has it's own skill and art, and expertise is generally limited to one's own trade, each tradesman still has a toolbox. They may look different from one another, but every tool box has a hammer, some kind of wrench, a screwdriver, a cutting implement. You get the picture-- all the tradesmen use the same basic tools (which I liken to the manifestations in this illustration). It is the task at hand that determines which tools get used and how. No tradesman uses only a hammer, nor is one sentenced to use only a saw, just because he or she used one once, or happens to be a carpenter.

The Apostle Paul, not wishing us to be ignorant about how the Spirit inspires what he does, laid out this basic concept for us: in God everyone is gifted, and all the gifted can manifest the Holy Spirit. Your gift doesn't determine what you manifest, the Holy Spirit does in the moment according to his will. Your gift will be apparent to others over time, what you manifest is never apparent until the moment it comes out. Some gifts, of course, will manifest some things more than others, but any of the gifted can produce any of the manifestations.

I think we need to expand our horizons and whet the appetite of our expectations in regard to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. God means more for us than we are generally satisfied to receive. The Holy Spirit isn't cheering us on from the sideline, he's in the game with us-- in fact, he's our uniform and padding. We're all meant to play, and he intends us to win! Regardless of what position we may play (how we are gifted), we are all meant to evidence the miraculous moving of the Holy Spirit. It is the way the church is supposed to function and fulfill our mandate. Call it, our Manifestation Destiny.

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