Back to Genesis 24 and the story of Isaac and Rebekah. While I was preparing for the word I brought on Sunday, I noticed something else that is significant in this passage. There are some interesting details about the anonymous servant whose activities take up most of the chapter: He is dispatched from the Father on behalf of the Son, to call the Bride. When the Bride receives him, he lavishes her with Gifts, and prepares her to be presented to the Son. Remind you of anyone? It seems that in this passage we have a symbolic representation of Father, Son, Bride (Church) and Holy Spirit! What a great passage of scripture!!
What struck me in particular is that the gifts the servant gave to Rebekah were like her wedding ornaments. They were what prepared her to be presented. The prophet Jeremiah says something very significant about wedding ornaments:
Does a maiden forget her jewellery, a bride her wedding ornaments? Yet my people have forgotten me, days without number. (Jer 2:32)
If it is inconceivable that a bride would turn up on her wedding day without her dress or her makeup, her jewelry or her flowers, so too it is inconceivable that the church can be prepared to be the bride of Christ without the gifts that the Spirit gives. They are not just optional extras for the "charismatic" side of the church. They are essential tools to get the job done. By both cultivating the fruits, and lavishing the gifts, the Spirit makes the church beautiful like a bride ready for the bridegroom, by transforming us to a greater reflection of the image of Jesus.
Some of these gifts are people (Ephesians 4) and these gifts of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers are just as essential if the bride is to be prepared to be presented. In fact the clear implication in Ephesians 4 is that we cannot reach maturity without them. They are aspects of Christ, given by Christ, to form Christ in the church, and so prepare the bride to be presented to Christ.
I love the way that the whole message of scripture is unified around the great eternal purpose of the Father for the Son in the Church. This is what the Spirit within us is working towards.