Thursday, December 31, 2009

Seventh Day of Christmas

I know, I know...more birds.  Today is the Seventh Day of Christmas.  Seven Swans A-Swimming remind us of the Seven Gifts of the Spirit.  Now, all my Pentecostal friends are probably ready to wage war arguing that there are more than Seven Gifts of the Spirit.  1 Corinthians 12:4-11 mentions nine gifts.  More gifts, as well as those mentioned in 1 Corinthians, are mentioned in Romans 12:6-8, Ephesians 4:11-12 and 1 Peter 4:10-11.  Theologians will often divide these gifts between "administrative" gifts, "sign" gifts and "operative" gifts.
In the early Church, what we call the Old Testament was pretty much the only Scriptures that was used as the New Testament was being written.  Many early Church theologians developed much of their ideas about the Gifts of the Spirit from Isaiah.  According to the early Church Fathers, Isaiah 11:2-3 listed the gifts of the Spirit as those which were bestowed upon Christ.  When a person was baptized and brought into the mystical Body of Christ, the Church, all were bestowed the same seven gifts.  They are listed in Isaiah as wisdom, understanding, counsel, might (courage), knowledge and the fear (awe) of the Lord. In the 13th century, Thomas Aquinas, one of the most revered theologians listed these six plus the gift of piety or reverence.  These seven gifts were given to all believers.  They do seem to be universal gifts and are the marks that should be exemplified in the life of every disciple of Christ.
Too often, Christians will exonerate themselves from certain works by saying that they do not have certain gifts.  Elders will excuse themselves from teaching citing that they don't have the gift of teaching.  Though this might be true, all Christians have been given the gift of understanding and counsel.  The Spirit brings to us the gift of courage to stand for the Truth of the Gospel in all times and places.  This is an admonition given to us my many of the New Testament writers, notably, the Apostle Paul.  Would the New Testament call us to certain works unless there was a certainty that God, who has begun a good work in us, will see it to completion (Philippians 1:5-7).  Be encouraged. God is calling you by the power of the Spirit given to us liberally, to be an evangelist, a teacher, an encourager, a servant of the Kingdom.  Does that mean all are called to be Ministers, Elders or Deacons? No. However, God is calling you to live into your baptismal gifts.  Use your seven gifts to serve the cause of justice, peace and to call the world to the knowledge of God through Christ Jesus.  Use your seven gifts to the glory of God.

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