I’m feeling chatty today.
I’ve had some interesting conversations with people recently about spiritual gifting. The two things we have all concluded (separately of each other):
we don’t nurture, encourage and use them as we should
we don’t like the ones we have.
I have compassion. You have discernment. You have shepherding. You have exhortation. You have… well… we aren’t really sure what you have because you’re just a super Christian. (or you hide well behind the facade) And then there are the jokes: I have sarcasm. You have emotional control. You have OCD. You have shyness. And you? Well, you have a mixture of emotional cutting and prideful self loathing. Good work team. Go get ’em.
But seriously, kids. We have these gifts that we are either born with or are imparted by the Holy Spirit at the moment of our rebirth. And we aren’t using them. I mean, she uses her discernment, sort of. Cause she prays, and she tells me that things are going to be okay. And that one over there, she uses her shepherding, cause she goes on runs with me and listens and tells me I should probably work on forgiving the five people I just complained about. He uses exhortation when he says it’s so not a big deal. And someday, you’ll use your super awesome Christian-y-ness in some way other than to engage in self loathing. So we’re using them, I guess. But sometimes it seems we are abdicating responsibility to the church. I don’t need to tell you to freaking calm down, because the pastor should probably do that. He doesn’t need to tell me to pursue this dream despite the obstacles because I can do it, in God I can do all things. She doesn’t need to tell him not to leave, because, well, I mean, we hope he figures it out on his own?
Since when has that worked?
When we try to figure it out on our own we get things like Mormonism. Manicheism. Brian McClaren-ism. Joel Osteen-ism. We call these things aberrant theology. We call them heresy.
I don’t like my gift. It isn’t fun. I had an episode last week. (we’re stealing the word “episode” from my friend who has bipolar. It’s the best word ever to describe what happens!) Episodes are crappy. There’s no point in lying about that. I was sick all afternoon and evening. I had a headache. I sat in the movie theatre and it took effort to focus on that massive screen. I told Ingrid about it. She sort of flipped on me. This is another crummy part of my gifting. Most people don’t understand, and they don’t like it and they tell me I have “unhealthy emotional boundaries.” Meh. That’s borderline heretical too, in my opinion. And yet, the episode was so good. It was such a powerful reminder of the heart of God.
I don’t like my gift because it hurts. She doesn’t like her gift because it’s freaky and sometimes disturbing to just know things about people. He doesn’t like his because it always comes across the wrong way.
But they are gifts. And to try returning them is rude.
We manage with what we have.
And if we would freaking pull it together and we would all participate instead of abdicating responsibility to “authority” to “others” to “family” to “whatever else there is” then we would probably do a lot better as a body. You need me, honey. Because you need someone who will weep over you. I need her, because I need someone to call me out on my sin. You need him because he will say the right word at the right time, no matter if it does seem odd to hear such encouragement from the soul of so rough and tumble a man. My friend Liz is right. If we’d just play our parts in prayer, thanksgiving and worship, we’d be much more a conjoined body knit and sewn together as it was always meant rather than disparate limbs that can only flop helplessly on the ground.
Buck up, church. Take responsibility. And just do something for crying out loud.