08.01.14

Tongues & Healing: Getting Boring?

Perhaps you read the title to this post and thought, “finally, the brothers on the porch are going to chop it up about speaking in tongues and miraculous healing.” Well…I am sorry to disappoint, but I do hope you continue reading. In fact, your assumption is partly why I am writing this post. Most people when the topic of spiritual gifts comes up, immediately race to the miraculous ones. We want to debate cessation vs. continuance. “Are the gifts of healing and speaking in tongues for the church today?”

We race to these debates and questions, giving little thought to the, if I could use such a term, “ordinary” spiritual gifts.

We are enamored with the extraordinary. Fixated on the miraculous.  In 1989, the Christian group Commissioned, released a popular song entitled “The Ordinary Just Won’t Do.” Despite the undeniable reality that the brothers can blow, I am not so sure the song was very helpful in eliminating our cultural proclivities. The song in many respects gave fodder to our obsession with the miraculous and extraordinary.

Take a look at the lyrics in the chorus:

The ordinary just won’t do,
I need a love that’s pure and true,
I can always find it in you, Jesus,
The ordinary just won’t do,
I gotta have a touch from you,
I can always find it in you, Jesus.

Commissioned had in mind the comfort that comes from knowing Christ. Their desire was to highlight the faithfulness of our Savior — that when everyone has abandoned you, when there is nowhere to turn, Jesus is there. Indeed, the truth of Jesus’ faithfulness provides great comfort and peace. Unfortunately, because we are so consumed with looking for the miraculous, we forget, and perhaps over, look God’s means for making his presence felt. Namely, in the company of his people.

This is a post calling attention to those spiritual gifts that tend to go unnoticed. But certainly calls us to cherish these gifts; gifts that are indeed Spirit given, and thus, far from “ordinary.” They are the gifts that God grants to his church in order to edify her and grow her up (, ). In fact, many times the ordinary gifts of the church are just what we need for the comfort and encouragement we desire.

So instead of looking for the miraculous gifts, let’s acknowledge the gifts that are fully on display in our congregations, if we would just take time to look.

Those gifted in the area of service, who patiently and joyfully care for the children in the nursery. Men and women who labor in the parking lot, Sunday after Sunday. Or the saints with smiles and a warm inviting hand shake or hug who greet people at the door.

Those with the gift of administration who see chaos and disorganization, and with a few processes, strategic moves, and spreadsheets, can have things running like a well-oiled machine.

Those who encourage without even knowing they are doing it.

Men and women who have the innate ability to gather groups of people, creating opportunities for community, fellowship, and discipleship.

Those with the gift of hospitality who always seem to have a house full, and you feel welcomed and loved when you are there.

God gives all these gifts and much more to his church. If you have the privilege of serving in congregations where these gifts are on display, honor these individuals. Draw attention to them. Perhaps it might change our fascination with the miraculous, and cause us to see the encouraging, Spirit wrought gifts God has placed in our midst. You may find the “ordinary”, just might do!

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (ESV)

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (ESV)

12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

And I will show you a still more excellent way. (ESV)

Philip Duncanson
Philip Duncanson serves as an elder at East Point Church in Atlanta. Holler at him on Twitter: @PBDuncs

C’mon Up!

  • Gabriel

    very good article… Praise God for the diversity of gifts that He has given because there are so many ordinary gifts that are simply indispensable. I remember going through earlier this year and I asked myself a question: What would a local church look like if no one had (or even desired) the gifts of administration, help, and hospitality? Would that church even function at all?

    “On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.”

    In a sense, God has provided a “division of labor” of sorts within the Church so that we would truly understand the deep, organic unity that we have with Christ and that we have each other. We have many parts (often invisible) working together to produce a harmonious result: a body in which many members have the same care for one another.

  • Pastor Bruce

    This article is one of the reasons why I like the porch, brings you down to earth but lifts your mind to heaven.