No one has ever described me as Pentecostal. I was raised and trained in a tradition that very much values the Holy Spirit and, I think, does a pretty good job of filling out Christianity’s perspective on that third person of the Trinity.
Because, unfortunately, people are very quick to fall in love with a small slice of the Holy Spirit’s work that is party-trickish. But someone has to do the heavy theological lifting.
And honestly, who doesn’t like party tricks? Well, besides those of us of European descent – party tricks make us uncomfortable and we’d rather talk to the magician about what sort of car he drives, what his ancestry is and how he has his money invested. But you get my point – the tradition I was raised and trained in has actually done a really good job of fleshing out the Spirit’s ongoing, undercover operations which are, let’s face it, pretty dog-gone impressive when you come to think about it – sanctification of millions of people, cultural renewal, creative inspiration, the working together for good of all things for those who love God, etc. But we’re not real good at the more flashy gifts of the Spirit, nor very open to them. So for me, 1 Corinthians 14:1 has always thrown me for a loop:
“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.”
Last past week, I spoke on prophecy for the first time ever – now talk about “those who can’t do teach”. And, of course, there were deep theological perspectives on prophecy, but all of the resources I’d ever been taught seemed a bit like people putting together a tour guidebook together for a country they’d never visited. So I’ve been praying and reflecting a lot this week about how maybe 1 Corinthians 14:1 isn’t just something for people in the 1st century AD or in churches where liturgical dancers wave flags around (wow, I really hope that’s not what’s coming). But I have had one insight on the Holy Spirit that maybe helps me understand why my tradition, me included, has never really grasped any of the “cooler” gifts.
Desiring the gifts of the Spirit may mean that we actually get them – and that would be uncategorizeable, messy, illogical, unpredictable.
And that absolutely scares the crap out of me. But it’s also probably why I should do it.