Over the years, I have seen many battles in the church. Not battles with the world, necessarily, but within the body of Christ. There have been sharp disagreements between pastors and other pastors or Bible teachers. With the development of new technologies and ways of communication, it seems like these disagreements are more visible, and everyone and their brother are now involved in taking sides for or against certain church issues.
One of those issues concerns the use of spiritual gifts in the church today. Some would say that spiritual gifts are no longer needed because the canon is closed. Others would say that spiritual gifts were used by the original Apostles, but after the last one died, there was no more need for them since they were to validate Christ and His work while the original church was being established. Still others just don't see a need for them and they do not really talk about them. Others appear to be afraid of using them, for fear that they might make a mistake, or perhaps they are unsure of how to lead their flocks into the proper use of the gifts.
But I think there is really a strong, underlying reason why many are opposed to using spiritual gifts. It is simply because we don't understand the purpose of the church. I can't tell you how many people I talk to, who are professing Christians, but are not part of a church. There could be a lot of different reasons for this, and I am not going to write about them here. But my thought is that, perhaps, we really don't understand what the church is, and what the church is supposed to be doing.
Why do we go to church on Sunday? The answer actually is, we don't go to church on Sunday. We are the church. The church is the body of Christ, not a building.
We are also extremists. We either go all the way to one side of an idea or we go directly opposite. We have 'churches' today who only meet on Sunday morning or Wednesday evening, and no one really gets to know each other because whatever we learn from being there isn't applicable to our lives. I would like to describe these churches as 'no-depth'- churches. You will find generic messages coming from the pulpits of these kinds of churches. I'm sure that many 'non-depth' churches are run by people who don't even know the Lord. The underlying belief that we are saved by good works makes this kind of church conducive to many people. They go to a service and think they have done God a favor by being in 'His' house on Sunday morning. These churches are nominal, at best. But there is the other extreme as well. There are churches which are called, 'Emergent' which try every way to make their environment conducive so people will feel comfortable and will want to come back again. Everything that is done in these churches, including the messages, will be for the visitor's comfort. These churches have sofas and coffee shops available in them as well as messages that will pump you up for the rest of the week. They are also nominal churches, as well, if even that.
But we can even find good, solid Bible teaching churches, and still not find the depth of what we need to hear. I don't know why this is, but this is the way it is, and I don't have an answer as to how to help this dilemma.
I just don't think we are ready to understand the the level of depth God wants for us. We are too busy fighting each other over doctrine, or trying to put out fires in the church. But maybe if we read all the verses on the 'one anothers' we could begin to understand the heart of God and why the church exists. And perhaps we could begin to understand why the church needs to be operating in the spiritual gifts.
The reason for the spiritual gifts is primarily for ministry. God doesn't give people supernatural insights just so they can have a better life. We use the spiritual gifts to edify and encourage others in the church. When the spiritual gifts are used, they are always used to point us back to God.
When Paul talked about the spiritual gifts, it was in the context of ministering to one another. Read 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 for a good description of the gifts and how they should be used. But especially note 1 Corinthians 13, which is known as the 'love' chapter. It is sandwiched between chapters 12 and 14. Love has to do with relationship. We cannot love something or someone we don't know. Those who make up the body of Christ are related to one another spiritually. It is similar to a family, but in the spiritual realm.
A family is made up of a dad and mom, and some children. Families change as children grow up and people die, but there are relatives in each family who take care of one another. It would be strange if children came home from school and there was no interaction between the children and the parents. If a child is sick, the parents take him to a doctor. Moms cook for their families. Dads work hard for their children and wives. Today, there are men and women doing the work of two parents because of a missing spouse. There is always interaction in families. That is how it should be in the church (the body of Christ).
The body of Christ is made up of people who have been born into God's family (born again spiritually). Those who have been born again are spiritually related to one another. We are to care for one another. We are to love one another. We are to pray for one another. The list could go on.
My point is, I don't think we use the spiritual gifts today, and have excuses for not using them simply because we don't understand the church. Unless we get this definition right, we will continue to fight one another over doctrine, and over petty issues, instead of banding together to fight the Enemy of our souls together. We will not use the spiritual gifts simply because we don't understand why we should. We see those on TV using the gifts in a wrong way and we further develop a distaste for the gifts.
If we truly understood what the church is, why wouldn't we use the spiritual gifts? Something to think about.