1 Corinthians 12 tells us about these gifts God wants to give us as a manifestation of his life that now dwells in us. For some reason, lots of church folks seem to be afraid of these gifts. Probably because no one has told them God’s not angry at them (or worse they have been explicitly told he is angry). But he’s not, and he has only good and perfect gifts to give us. Now, I know that some of us want those gifts to be health or wealth or power, which he does sometimes give, but Paul is pretty clear that he wants to give us these gifts; wisdom, knowledge, faith, miracles, healing, distinguishing spirits, prophecy, tongues, interpretation of those tongues. It says to “each one is given a manifestation”. That means you, and me, and every other one who believes in Jesus. These are for the common good and they’re measures out according to his will. That great! It’s means the pressure isn’t on us. We don’t have to pretend or make it up or try really hard. We just have let God give us whatever he wants to give us.
Paul elsewhere says we should desire the gifts earnestly. When I was a kid I would always snoop out the Christmas gifts my mom got me, I couldn’t wait. I know, I know, it was wrong, but I think I was pretty good at pretending I was surprised on Christmas morning even though in some cases I had taken the toy out of the box, played with it, and put it back. (my mom might disagree on my pretending abilities although she’s never called me out on it). One year she bought my cousins old Sega Genesis from him to give me. No kidding I actually took it out and set it up and played it for a whole day while she was at work. I was so eager to get that gift that I couldn’t wait a week to try it out.
So why is it that no one told me that Jesus had these gifts he wanted to give me right after I met him. And why do I usually forget to tell others. Why do we keep them hidden under the bed like we’re waiting for this special day to break them out. It’s weird. It seems like somehow we have to earn these gifts, like when we meet Jesus we’re just interns and we don’t have full access to all the benefits until we’ve made it through the probation period. Well, what if this person doesn’t decided he’s going to stay with the company, we can’t just start him out with access to health plan. Lets teach him some theology first, maybe get him doing a little hands on service at the soup kitchen. Maybe after he gets a few of these memory verse down about God’s wrath and he’s scared enough of his maker, we’ll tell him about the gifts. We don’t want to unleash too much zeal and hope all at once.
Not only weird, untrue.
We are adopted as sons and daughters and full citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven, here and now. And everyday is Christmas in the Kingdom. There’s no waiting for special ceremonies. Jesus sacrifice was the last act that ended all the religious requirements and law, all fulfilled by him for us. Theres no test to pass. Jesus was tested and found perfect and has covered us in his righteousness. There are no magic words. The one who spoke everything into existence now speaks before the throne on your behalf. The one who breathed life into your empty soul, has breathed his own life into you by the spirit and now breathes the life of the kingdom out of you through the gifts he’s measured out for you.
I have a lot of friends who can’t wait for Christmas, some of them have been getting ready and decorating since November but I don’t want to wait, not for these gifts. I want to see the life giving, life changing activity of the Kingdom of heaven daily, not just once a year.
So, I hope I didn’t ruin Christmas for you by telling you what’s in the box, but it’s ok, your father in Heaven said you could open it early.