The Gift Man
I come from a Pentecostal/charismatic background. That means right from the foundation of my Christian walk the importance, and sometimes obsession, of gifts was right at the fore. To become a fully fledged Pentecostal I had to get baptised in the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues, that great unknown, untaught, supernaturally given language. This opened up a doorway to the other gifts such as prophecy, word of knowledge, gifts of healings etc. Thus the road to becoming a fully fledged charismatic. A word that seems to have got lost in translation a bit because although it seemed to be translated as ‘grace gifts’ it became less centred on the grace and more centred on the gift. More on what we were getting from God than on what we could give to others. Therefore it did not matter how we used the gifts as long as we had them. People would then become followers of gift men (and women). The greater the gift displayed the bigger the following. People in churches who showed a great openness to the things of the spirit were labelled, recognised, given positions and responsibilities. Mr so and so carries a great gift of prophecy, Mrs so and so is used greatly by God in healing. So good to have these prophets and healing evangelists amongst us. The weight of adding a ‘thus saith the Lord’ to anything was amazing. Charismaniacs were driven by God’s now word and anyone who questioned them were questioning God Himself. If God said it I’m doing it. I was caught up in this too because it was my church roots. I only ever saw the gifted and Holy Spirit empowered guys walking in the now blessing. Through life you can only walk in the revelation you have at a certain time, and much of that revelation is built by the past, by relationships, by the teaching of your upbringing. So for me to be seen for what I was carrying, the gift, recognised and encouraged to a life of that, just seemed the call of God, a vocation for life. To be seen as a good preacher or a prophet in the land was a fulfillment of the charismatic ladder. The problem here is that you get known as the gift man, and therefore synonymous with the gift, and never as the real you. How can you say you have nothing to say because the sky feels like brass when people are looking to the gift of prophecy in you? How can you just talk about the hurts that others have brought into your life when you are seen carrying that amazing gift of faith? The invincible one. The gift man for the hour. No wonder charismaniacs often have very few real friends, especially those from leadership positions. People who go through long periods of valley experience are normally dropped off the radar at some point. I am ashamed to say I leave behind me loads of people that I dropped somewhere because they stopped walking in faith or hit tough times. When gift is the key to everything and not relationship then when there is no room for the gift to be displayed there is nothing bonding anything. If obsession about walking in gift and being the gift man is what makes me a charismatic then I no longer think of myself in that way. Do I still believe in using the gifts? Yes. But I also believe in using love, patience and good old normal conversation about normal stuff. I love it that the people in work know me as just Paul. To them I am not a gift ministry but a person, a relational person. There is no performance mentality and yet they know what I live for.
Redeeming the Charis from the matic.
I see a new charismatic movement coming to the body of Christ. This wave has already hit us, the sad thing is it should never have gone away. We need to redeem the word charis from the word charismatic. It is the Greek term for the word grace. Charisma is favour freely given or gift of grace. I see a people who will be less concerned about what they have received from heaven in outward gift signs, and more concerned with sharing gift with others. A people known for their grace rather than their gifts. The gifts cease to be about who we are and more an expression of the grace flow of heaven. Healing will be about bringing wholeness to a broken life. Prophecy will be about helping others walk in destiny who are lost and alone. The gift of faith will be about believing in someone when they have lost all belief and fallen. The word of knowledge and wisdom will flow through everyday conversation without even an ounce of acknowledgement or super-spiritual voice over. The circle of grace will draw itself around somebody and embrace them rather than drawing a circle around a select few who have got it and viewing everyone else as outside the box. The grace circle does not speak in terms of insiders and outsiders, believers and pagans, it embraces people. Yes people with issues but haven’t we all got issues. I only have to look back at my life when I lived for recognition, position, gifts, titles etc. to realise I carry big issues that need to be challenged and ministered to continually. We are all built of something and we all need grace to grow into something. We all need it. In Christ we all receive it, as much as we have received we need to give.
So am I still a charismaniac? Some people may still think I’m a bit mad but that is my character rather than gifts I walk in. Do I still flow in the gifts? I believe all the time, but it has ceased to be about pulpit or public performance and more about daily expression of Who I carry. Used to be ministry stuff but is now about the flow of life. What I want to do more is walk in the Charis of God. The grace. Live grace, talk grace, show grace, love in grace. Whether at work or sharing at a gathering. And I want people to get to know me, the one sharing the grace, rather than me for the gifts I carry. And through the grace I want them to see the One who is Grace. Amazing Grace. I hate labels, I think they should only be for jars, but if I am known for nothing other than walking in grace then that would be enough.