Life in the Spirit: Transformation (Part 2)

Disciples of Jesus, like their Messiah, have been anointed with the Holy Spirit. Disciples of Jesus walk by the Spirit, live by the Spirit, and are led by the Spirit. The Spirit is the air we breathe and the one who empowers us. Ours is a life in the Spirit.

But what do we mean when we say that disciples of Jesus live in the Spirit? The Theodrama emphasizes three dimensions of this life in the Spirit: (1) communion, (2) transformation, and (3) giftedness.

First, as previously discussed, the Spirit is the one by whom we commune with the Triune God. Second, the Spirit is the one by whom God transforms us into the image of Christ. Now, lastly, we turn our attention to the gifts the Holy Spirit distributes within the body of Christ.

The Spirit distributes the gifts of God. These gifts range from gifts of mercy, teaching, leadership, generosity (Romans 12:3-8) to wisdom, knowledge, healings, miracles, prophesy, and tongues (1 Corinthians 12:8-10). These lists are exhaustive but illustrative of God’s work within the community of faith for the sake of the body and the world. The same Spirit disperses a diversity of gifts (1 Corinthians 12:11).

The Holy Spirit empowers our ministry as the Spirit gifts each of us for service in our faith communities as well as in the world. The Spirit equips for the “common good”—for communities of faith, for human society, and for creation. We seek these gifts through prayer, discipleship, and mentoring relationships.

God gives the Spirit as a communing and transforming presence. God created us for communion and redeems us to transform us. And God goes one step further. God gifts us so that we might participate in God’s mission.

“Through the Spirit,” Paul wrote, God gives the body of Christ the capacity to serve each other and the world. These “manifestations of the Spirit” are for the “common good,” and the gifts are “activated” and distributed by the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 12:7-8, 11).

It is important, however, to note that presence comes first, then transformation, and finally giftedness. We might think of this as a spiral of activity where there is reciprocity but also movement toward a goal. God dwells in order to commune. That communion transforms us, and, as people in the process of transformation, God gifts us so that we might participate in the mission of God. The gifts are best used by transformed people. This is why 1 Corinthians 13 comes between 1 Corinthians 12 and 14. Giftedness without love is useless; more than useless, it is detrimental. Transformation must shape the use of the Spirit’s gifts.

The gifts of the Spirit refer whatever capacity we have to participate in the mission of God. Whatever talent we use to further the mission of God–whether it is software development, musical ability, environmental passion—they are the gifts of God. Too often we talk about talents as if they are natural dispositions independent of God’s work among us. One of the reasons we feel so distant from the Holy Spirit is because we secularize our gifts. we minimize the Spirit’s role. Giftedness, inclusive of talents, is a manifestation of the Spirit!

We see the Spirit when transformed people (or, better, people in the process of transformation) use their gifts to further the mission of God, which is the transformation of the whole world. We see the Spirit when an environmental biologist cares for the creation, when a nurse compassionately cares for the sick, when a debt mediator reconciles a creditor and a debtor, and when an actor embodies the gospel in a drama (even if the drama never mentions God at all). We “see” the Spirit’s gifts in action when brokenness is healed.

The Spirit gifts us, not for our own glory, but for the glory of God as the mission of God is furthered in the world.

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