My world over the past few weeks has been fascinating. I attended a Theology on Tap led by Catholic Priests in St Cloud, a local Assembly of God Church in town that runs a homeless shelter, a Covenant Church in Monticello, Firestarters Church in Ottertail and a Spirit-filled Bible Camp in the Rocky Mountains. You guessed it, I am one of those spiritual mutts common in this current world.
One of the common ideas that has been surfacing for me is the idea that gifts work through love. It seems as if that would be a given considering Jesus command to love God and love one another. Last October I was meeting with some people from a church in CT who were moving in the gifts of the Spirit. I was asked to participate. Crying out to God, I asked for help... God spoke deep inside my heart these words, "the gifts of the Spirit work by love." I almost stopped the car and pulled over realizing that my task was not to conjure up a "word" or move in some "gift" but simply to love another person. A few months later, I attended a small Assembly of God church in St Cloud, MN, during a Tuesday evening bible study on the Holy Spirit, Pastor Geary said, the gifts work through the love of God.
At the Theology on Tap disucssion, the group spoke about deliverence ministry as a work of love. Profound was the insight around suseptability... human beings become more suseptible to the demonic activity when they are oppressed, dehumanized, labled and despised... or not loved in the way that God has loved. I remembered the sermons of Oscar Romero as preached to his parish in El Salvador when his people were under serious oppression. A good shepherd, Romero taught his people of their worth in the eyes of God, of their value as humans, of their call to love and non-violence. He reduced their suseptibility to the work of evil through love and increased the movement of gifts such as justice, peace, faith in God.
I attended a Sunday morning service at Firestarters when home visiting my family. Feeling a bit broken I responded to an invitation to receive healing. The community prayed for me, spoke some truth into my life and some of the heavy depression lifted. I felt the strong love of the community as they longed to bring healing to others in their field of influence. Again, I heard the words, the gifts and healing of God work through love. God's love, the love of others etc.
Finally, we attended a Bible Camp in the Rocky Mountains led by a group of believers anchored in Christ and moving in the Holy Spirit. Many people were healed and set free from the lies of evil and illnesses. A child known in the community and born deaf was healed. Others as well... Again speaker after speaker commented that the gifts of the Spirit and the healing of God comes by love... the love of God, the love in his people.
To love is warfare, to love reduces suspeptability to the demonic forms of evil, to love is healing, to love is to bring justice, to love is to help human beings unhook from the lies of evil and remain connected to God.
So I am asking myself many questions... when have I moved in self-centeredness? When have I entered ministry without love? or for self-motivated reasons? And how is God inviting me to step outside myself and seek the well-being and lifting of another person through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Or how does love contribute to the work of the Spirit in movements of healing and justice? When have I allowed myself to be dehumanized by believing the lies of the evil one?
To love is the just motivation for the movement of the Spirit in healing, justice and peace. Maybe that's why the chapter on Love is the meat between the two chapters on the Gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corithians 12, 13, 14 and why the 13th chapter ends with, "and these things remain, faith, hope and love but the greatest of these is love."