Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The Importance of Being Earnest: from the Winter 2016 Issue of Anglicans for Renewal Magazine

This is Five Alive Three: the third of a series of short articles on five of Paul’s key points on the who, how and why of the Gifts of the Spirit in his first letter to the Corinthians. 

We at ARM Canada are in earnest about helping Anglicans and other Christians know more about the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit and to experience them as the Spirit apportions them to each one individually as he wills (1 Cor 12.11). 

Pentecost transformed the first Christians from a small, frightened, hidden group of people into a powerful Spirit-filled community of witnesses to the Resurrection that became the Christian Church and changed the world. These days It feels to me as those roles have been reversed. The world is changing the Church more than the other way around. The Christian Church and its teaching and values, it seems, are being found wanting and abandoned. We seem to be allowing ourselves to be led astray, or influenced at least, by what Paul called pagan mute idols (1 Cor 12.2) in his day. And so Paul's exhortation that we "earnestly desire" the higher spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12.31; 14.1) of the Spirit so "that the Church my be built up" (1 Cor 14.5) is especially appropriate and an important "word" for twenty-first century Anglican Christians.  

The world still needs changing. Saving health and faith in Jesus are still needed for many, many souls. So it is important that we are earnest, not only in our desire for the higher spiritual gifts (and especially that we may prophesy—1 Cor 14.1 & 39) but in worship (Acts 26.7), prayer following Jesus' example (Lk 22.44), prayer for those in need (Mk 5.23, Acts 12.5), prayer that the Lord would send out labourers into his harvest (Mt 9.38, Lk 10.2) and in loving one another (1 Peter 1.22, 4.8). 

Be earnest in prayer this Advent. If you're already involved in a prayer group, consider praying for the release of the 1 Cor 12.1-11 gifts in each other, in your parish, your deanery and your diocese for the good of the Church until Pentecost 2017. If you're not already praying with a partner or a group of friends, considering getting together with one or two or several friends to do the same.