Walking in the Spirit

Some of the lessons I am learning from 1 Corinthians 12:

1. Spiritual gifts and the moving of the Spirit should be an expectation in the life of the Church. 

It doesn’t have to be in some huge scene. It doesn’t need to be “spectacular” or “epic” or distracting or annoying. Life in the Spirit should be something normal. At times it may be spectacular and we should be blown away. A healing can be spectacular. It should blow us away.

Over the past 6-7 weeks we have held up our missionary friend Steve in prayer. He has gone from a coma to a road of full recovery. He was riding his bike last week and preached his first sermon last Sunday. THAT is spectacular.

Life in the Spirit isn’t all about the physical manifestations that get attention. It is the quiet words of knowledge someone may get in helping someone else. It is a word of wisdom spoken in due season. It is an act of service.

We should expect the Spirit to use us in a variety of ways as we walk with him. There are gifts more suited to our passions and personality, but the Spirit may need someone who is introverted to step up and bring healing to another person on a particular moment. That is completely possible if we can simply be open to what the Spirit wants to do.

2. Spiritual arrogance today may come in two forms. 

The first form is the Corinthian form. It’s the idea that some gifts are more “mature” or “special” and if you have those you are superior to others.

The second form is a false humility. That is more common today. It is a sense of saying something like, “I’m so unique I just don’t ‘fit’ in normal ‘Church’.”

The first form still exists. We like the spectacular gifts and if someone lays hands on someone else and they are healed, we’re ready to rent out the local arena and start a healing crusade. We push the spectacular too far. We add spiritual maturity to someone who has been used in healing… and that just does not correlate in the Kingdom of God.

The second form exists because there are so many social anxieties and we think something we observe as “normal” is not like us, so we must be “abnormal.” At first, it’s uncomfortable. Then, as society urges us, we push our uniqueness out there and brag on it. Then, we want others praising us in our uniqueness and then we want to demand we retain our uniqueness.

Let’s get this straight right away: Church is not normal. The Kingdom of God is not normal. 

We have “normalcy” in some churches because as humans we just want to find a way to get along with each other for a time period and too many people flashing their uniqueness all at once is simply chaos.

But compared to any culture, and especially this culture, the Kingdom of God is simply not normal. And, quite frankly, it will be treated as a very risky abnormality in this culture over time. So, if you want to be “unique” you do indeed belong in the Kingdom of God.

It’s when we use our uniqueness as an excuse not to fit in with the Body that we run the risk of spiritual pride. Paul gives the illustration in the last half of 1 Corinthians 12 to highlight this point. When we say, “I’m just too unique for the Church” we are really, honestly saying, “I don’t need the rest of the Body. I’m happy being the pinky toe and the pinky toe will just go wee, wee, wee all the way home.”

We’re all unique. Some wear it inside. Some wear it outside. But it takes maturity in the Body to realize we all fit together in some way. Paul calls for maturity, and that has nothing to do with the spiritual gift residing in each one of us. We simply need to learn to grow together.

This is the importance of 1 Corinthians 13. We have to learn to set aside our particular pride issues and learn to LOVE one another. And that means not waiting for someone else to love you first. It means YOU step out and decide to bring Kingdom rightness into someone else’s life.

The power of the Spirit is ready to be poured out on the Church. We need to recognize the availability of the Spirit in our lives today. We need to lay down our spiritual pride and join up with what Christ is doing today. This world so desperately needs it.

 

Freedom in Christ and Freedom from Arrogance

As I read through 1-2 Corinthians and Galatians, I am constantly struck by our impulses. As humans, we seem to strive for being “one up” on someone else… anyone else. Even in the Church, Paul battled these kinds of attitudes. With the Corinthians, it was being “one up” with spiritual gifts… or being “one up” by being able to sin with the best of them and claim “freedom in Christ.” With the Galatians, it was sliding back into the arrogance of legalism and still thinking there was freedom in Christ.

Freedom in Christ is freedom from the patterns of this world. This is a tough battle for us as believers! We get so caught up in the world’s system. We take on value systems, philosophical systems, so much more… and we have a difficult time separating it all out.

We need tough reminders from time to time. We need the Holy Spirit working us over and getting to our motivations. We need the Word of God examining us!

13 You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only don’t let this freedom be an opportunity to indulge your selfish impulses, but serve each other through love. 14 All the Law has been fulfilled in a single statement: Love your neighbor as yourself. 15 But if you bite and devour each other, be careful that you don’t get eaten up by each other! (Gal. 5:13-15, CEB)

There is not doubt we can be convinced of our faith… but we need not be arrogant about it.