Saturday, February 05, 2011

the gifts in the church

Len Hjalmarson writes this great piece on the gifts and the Church and leadership:

How does God rule in the church? William Stringfellow hits it on the head for me in this quotation:

“To affirm, as St. Paul does so strenuously, that the gifts are bestowed for the increase and edification of the church, and thence, for the enhancement and versatility of the Church’s servanthood or priesthood on behalf of the world, is to disclose the political significance of the gifts and their uses (1 Cor.14:13-20). Each and every charismatic gift is concerned with the restoration or renewal of human life in society.” An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land

In other words, Ephesians 4 is not a strange parenthesis, but follows on from Ephesians 1. We are seated with Christ in heavenly places. He rules from the right hand of power, and in giving gifts that rule is extended. Jesus rules his church through the charisms of the Spirit.

That puts a rather different slant on church “governance,” does it not? To fail to recognize, empower, equip and release the gifts of the Spirit in our midst is to fail to recognize the living Head of the Church and his ongoing rule in it. And that rule is not merely for the sake of the church, but rather as the firstfruits of the new creation, we extend God’s kingdom as we serve in the church and in the world as the new humanity, created anew in Christ. We are priests wherever God places us in the world.

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