What about them? They are talked about in the Bible. They are real. They are in existence today. I have been to many different types of churches. I’ve been to very traditional churches where everyone speaks and does the same thing at the same time, and where it feels as though there is not a creative bone in anyone’s body. I’ve been to very modern churches where it seems that while the creative juices are surely flowing, there’s not much spiritual happening at all. And then I’ve been to seemingly every kind of church in between. Some of those churches practice the use of what we know as the gifts of the spirit. What in the world am I talking about?! In 1 Corinthians 12 we see a list of 9 gifts that are given to Christians by the Holy Spirit. They are kind of like spiritual talents or abilities, and we can have somewhere between one and all of them. I like to think of them as spiritual super powers, you know, Super man was super strong and could fly, and Mrs. Incredible was super-stretchy and could snatch a kid up from around a corner (my personal favorite). Christians are super gifted and can do super cool things. Like what, you ask? Well, here’s a list of those gifts…the word of knowledge, the word of wisdom, the gift of prophecy, the gift of faith, the gift of healing, working of miracles, discerning of spirits, the gift of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. So, most of us are pretty okay with the idea of wisdom being a gift and faith, and maybe even prophecy…maybe. And we have to admit that healing and miracles are some pretty cool “super powers”. But we tend to get a little hung up on this whole tongues thing…like what the heck does that even mean? We can see it in action in Acts 2:1-8. Basically they were all having church and praying and the Holy Spirit showed up and all of a sudden they were speaking in all these different languages that other people understood but they didn’t. Then in 1 Corinthians 13 it says, “though I speak with the tongues of angels”, so this is a heavenly kind of language that no one here can really understand. These things were happening in the New Testament church, this wasn’t a thing that we can write off as being an Old Testament phenomenon. So, we can speak in tongues. So, shouldn’t we be doing that then? Well, yes and no. 1 Corinthians 14 has a lot to say about it, and I highly recommend that you read it. It specifically tells us that we should earnestly seek the gifts of the Spirit. In verse 5 Paul says he wishes that we would all speak in tongues. But then this chapter goes on to say:
Now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in [unknown] tongues, how shall I make it to your advantage unless I speak to you either in revelation (disclosure of God’s will to man) in knowledge or in prophecy or in instruction? If even inanimate musical instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone [listening] know or understand what is played? And if the war bugle gives an uncertain (indistinct) call, who will prepare for battle? Just so it is with you; if you in the [unknown] tongue speak words that are not intelligible, how will anyone understand what you are saying? For you will be talking into empty space!
We definitely want to have order and understanding in our services. We want our visitors to relate to what we are saying and to connect with Christ in our church. That’s why we don’t pray in tongues in our services. But in the words of a very wise person concerning tongues on a personal level, “It’s a thing!”