(Continued from The fallacy of our spiritual gifts: Part 1.)
What is the Kingdom’s O.S.? Weakness. Just weakness. From cover to cover, the Bible highlights over and over again this singular principle; God uses weak people. Name the character found in the annuls of Scripture that God had powerfully used, and you will never find a powerful man or woman. Only weak ones. Infertile Abraham and Sara. Stuttering Moses. Fearful Gideon. Overlooked David. Timid Jeremiah. And on and on until a Messiah appears. A semi-legitimate peasant baby. And He gathers a team. A group of Galilean misfits. And they, in weakness, imperfectly obey their ill-suited Rabbi.
And the world would never be the same.
It would seem that spiritual gifts have little to do with innate personal strengths, and far more to do with a yielded weakness. Quizzes that reinforce personal strengths only serve to propagate spiritual independence instead of leading a disciple to understand that true spiritual power can only come through the humility of dependence.
Moving beyond our recent past to a more biblical and powerful future. The trajectory of Christianity in the West is losing ground, in large part because of the disciple that we are producing. As long as we value brilliance over weakness, addition over multiplication and consolidation over self-sacrifice—the disciple that we produce will look eerily similar to the world’s leader: strong, confident, independent and spiritually insubstantial.
Four shifts to get us back:
1. Shift from ostriches to eagles. Once we pull our head from the sand and look around from a kingdom vantage point, we may notice that we have a calamitous problem. Comfort, convenience and spiritual potency are rarely found in the same discipleship design. Our addiction-to-addition lust has crafted an overindulged and precocious consumer who has few cravings beyond selfish interests. This wide road approach to disciple-making can only lead to spiritual desiccation.
2. Shift from pampers to pull-ups. Encourage disciples to take some wobbly and awkward steps out of their spiritual playpen into the mayhem of ministry. Toddling without a net will ensure a few scraped knees, but will also provide an environment for growing disciples to discover a spiritual stride rarely seen in the nursery. The wonder and joy found in the discovery of a truly spiritual walk will provide an inner motivation impossible to generate from behind the greatest of pulpits.
3. Shift from excellence to equipping. Slick, seamless and superficial characterizes the objections of a post-Christian world of much of the goings-on within our evangelical brand. Excellence in stagecraft, which doesn’t translate into the Christlikeness of a disciple, fails to impress an increasingly skeptical world. However, the authenticity found in genuine yet imperfect Christ-follower tottering into greater spiritual capacities will not go unnoticed. Make room for the powerful impact of imperfection.
4. Shift from spiritual preferences to spiritual gifts. When the Church of Jesus Christ is loosed on a broken and dispirited city, the inescapable gospel light cannot go unnoticed. When disciple-making becomes a trek from the highway of personal independence to the narrow path of a dependent faith, legitimate and powerful spiritual gifts are discovered. These gifts are not found in the strengths of our personalities or capabilities, but in the weakness of a trusting subject in the authority of his Sovereign.
Perhaps all of the Bretts and Noelles who have long been sacredly shackled within the comforts of our org charts have not lost their yearning for a more supernatural life. One that anticipates God. One that required Him.
For their sakes, and for the sake of a spiritually unimpressed culture, lets take a far less fleshly look at how we understand spiritual gifts.
Published September 27, 2016