By Pastor Lars Olson
This Sunday we celebrate Pentecost. It is one of the most important days of the church year, in which we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to create the church of Jesus Christ. The event is recorded in Acts 2 as a violent rush of wind from heaven. It shocked the disciples, who then began speaking in tongues, or languages from other parts of the world. This gift foreshadows what is to come for the apostles, as well as pointing out the true work of the Spirit. The apostles will be sent by the Spirit into the world, to preach the good news in any language needed. And the Holy Spirit will give gifts, "Spiritual Gifts," needed for this one task.
Clearly, the gift of speaking in tongues is not the only gift. The Holy Spirit gives many gifts, some more noticeable, others more necessary, but if it is a gift of the Spirit, it will do the one job that the Holy Spirit does - making Christ Jesus known to the world. In this way, spiritual gifts are not talents and abilities that you are born with, nor are they skills that you acquire through learning and practice. A spiritual gift is anything that happens by the Spirit, through you as a conduit, that makes Christ known as Lord to another. Peace, patience, kindness, love, generosity, preaching, and the like are not for you, but for others to know Christ.
So, the variety of spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit are for the common good, for building up the body of Christ in giving witness to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The variety and diversity, however, can become a cause of division and jealousy. You might have the gifts that I want for myself, or you may think your spiritual gifts are more valuable, useful, and glorious than the gifts I have. Either way, the body is being torn apart, and Jesus Christ and his cross have nothing to do with our gifts. But listen! All the gifts are from the same Spirit. All our service is in the same Lord. It is the same God and Father of us all who works in us, so that we would confess together, “Jesus is Lord.”