I don't know what you think about spiritual gifts. I know I grew up believing that the "sign gifts" like tongues, healing, prophecy, and the like stopped being given to the church after the first century. So I was always suspicious of people who practiced these gifts. I think at one time I would have considered Christians who practiced sign gifts to be wrong, probably just overtaken with emotion. But I really didn't see God still working that way any more.
As I got older, I saw some of my friends get involved in Pentecostal churches. Some of them started speaking in tongues, some started talking about a "second blessing" of the Holy Spirit. That usually meant that someone who was a believer had to speak in tongues in order to be complete. I saw that then as being a very divisive belief in the body of Christ. It groups God's people into 2 camps--the tongue-speakers and the non-tongue-speakers.
My own position has changed quite a bit. I don't see anywhere in the Bible where you can legitimately infer that any gifts stopped after the Scriptures were written. (Please forgive me, Mr. Dike!) I also don't see any particular gift as being necessary for a Christian to be complete in Christ. I think Scripture is pretty clear that we are complete in Christ from the moment of salvation.
The gifts are just that--gifts. God gives them out as He wishes, to enable us to do His work. There aren't 2 classes of Christians, or 5, or 100. If you are in Christ, you are a child of God.
Two things really make me sad about the whole debate over gifts. One, it's divided Christians unnecessarily. (It's one more proof that the devil often uses good things to mess up the Church.) There isn't much difference theologically between most people who attended Baptist (or Brethren) churches and groups like the Assembly of God or other Pentecostal) denomination. But both sides are dug in, thinking the other is strange, or off-base, or out of step with God.
The second thing that makes me sad is that when we focus on gifts, we lose sight of the Giver. Really gifts aren't important at all. I'm not enabled to do God's work because of my gifts. I can do God's work because it's Jesus who is in me, to do what He wants. Gifts are tools He uses through His people.
Why am I thinking about this? This afternoon I heard 2 guys in the radio, each talking about their experience speaking in tongues. For both, they were believers who were seeking some reassurance that their faith was real. God gave them the sign they were looking for, namely, tongues. Both of them described how their lives had changed. They were secure in their knowledge that God was in them and with them. They were more in love with Jesus. They trusted God more than they ever did before.
Before, I probably would have dismissed them as self-deluded, convincing themselves that they had received something that wasn't really God at all. It was just their own minds, playing a trick on them.
Now, I believe those experiences, which are very different from mine, really do come from God. I mean, He meets me where I am, in all my weakness and strengths and pre-conceived notions. Why shouldn't He do that with His other children? Further, I think we probably need to give each other some room to maneuver when it comes to things of the Spirit. The one standard? It doesn't violate what we already know about God, revealed in the Bible. Otherwise, if God wants some of His people to speak in tongues or prophesy, let 'em do it. If He wants others to use "quieter" gifts, like hospitality or mercy, that's great too.
I think it's when you make your experience with God the norm, the experience that judges all the others, that you get into trouble.I hope we can some day get to the point where we can celebrate God's work in each of us without trying to stuff each other into boxes...
My gifts? Napping, and general mischief...