Thursday, October 15, 2009
the power of the jesus underground
Sometimes talking about experiencing the Holy Spirit stirs up quite a bit of, well, emotions. Good and bad. One weekend after speaking along similar lines, a woman charged up on stage and literally yelled at me between celebrations. She was so angry she was physically shaking. She shouted that I had said she wasn’t really “saved”, that she wasn’t able to hear God, and she was a second-class citizen in the Kingdom of God.
Wow. I tried to quickly mentally reboot everything I’d said that morning and for the life of me couldn’t think of anything that remotely implied that.
She was shaking her finger in my face. I finally had to say, “Stop it! You need to calm down right now and stop yelling at me.” She glared at me. “I never said anything like that,” I insisted.
She bristled, “Well, you seemed to say that if I didn’t have some sort of weird experience, something was wrong with me.”
Puzzled, I replied, “I’m sorry, but I never said anything like that either.”
“Yes you did,” she huffed. “You said I had to be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
“I didn’t say that—Paul did. He wrote to the believers in Ephesus: be filled with the Holy Spirit. I didn’t tell you how to ‘manifest’ that…or what that should even look like.”
Obviously this is an emotionally charged subject. And too bad…because we shortchange the real purpose of the multiple fillings that the early disciples experienced: a bold passion for people who didn’t yet know Jesus. The extreme views and practices on either side polarize the issue. I cringe when I see some of the ways my charismatic brothers create a subculture of wackiness, often on TV. When Todd Bentley kneed someone in the gut on GodTV for healing purposes, you’ve got some puffed up showmanship that’s gone awry. On the other hand, the mean-spirited and frankly poor exegesis of cessationist John MacArthur who attributes any contemporary manifestation of the classic power gifts of 1 Corinthians 12 to Satan is equally embarrassing to the Body of Christ.
Please. Could we tone things down a bit?
Let’s keep in mind the mission of the church and how the moving of the Holy Spirit complements that. Let’s clearly define the purposes of our different gatherings and contexts. In my reading of Acts, it seemed to me that most expressions of the power of the Holy Spirit were in the street, beyond the church walls. But perhaps in some circles we’ve made the practice of the gifts in such routine Pentecostal expressions, that unless it looks just like that, we assume the Spirit isn’t moving. And on the other hand, evangelicals can have such a narrow view and lack of experience that we simply rule out the possibility of the power gifts. There’s a bit of self-righteousness in both approaches.
I believe God may have a third way. And it may not look how either party wants it to.
Bring it on.