Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Tiger In Our Tank

Although the passage in Romans 12 leads into its gift list by associating them with the expression of God's grace (as does the Ephesian passage), and although it focuses upon how the gifts are used (as does the greater Corinthian context), its take on gifts is unique in demonstrating how we actually "act" in the gifts. It's not a list of nouns but verbs. It's not about prophets, servants, teachers, exhorters, givers, rulers, or empathizers, but prophesying, serving, teaching, exhorting, giving, ruling, and empathizing. That may be a subtle distinction, but an interesting one regardless.

What do I think that distinction tells us? Among other things, it tells us to use the gift in producing the results of the gift. I could go on and on about what that says about our modern fascination (er, distraction?) with strategy and techniques, but I'll do my best to stay on task! Suffice it to say that the ability that grace deposited in us (gift) is not only sufficient to produce its intended result, but it should be relied upon to do so. The gift within us should not remain idle; it should not be suppressed (by ourselves or others); method should not be substituted for it; and its compulsion should not be considered secondary. Instead of wondering what the experts think about a ministry endeavor, we should be asking ourselves what the gift of God within us is inspiring.

That is not to say that we should be uncooperative and unsubmissive to the body of Christ around us, that is contraindicated by the concept of body itself. It does mean that what the Spirit intends to get done through us won't get done because the Grand Poobah (read vision caster) has a plan we become cogs in, or that a consultant figured out a really good way to do that kind of a thing, or that we have achieved some level of preparation that now qualifies and certifies us to do it. No doubt, those things can be useful in building a successful organization, but what do they have to do with a temple indwelt by the gracious Spirit of God?

All of us have had our fuse lit by the Spirit of God. In grace towards us, God dropped a bit of spiritual nitro into our souls which infused us with an energy that self-organizes the matter of life into its foreordained design. The gift itself compels us to produce the effects of the gift. Jesus experienced this, Paul did too, so should we. The gift is the tiger in our tanks, so with faith in in the promise of God, take that tiger by the tail and go for the ride of a lifetime.