CHARISMATIC


I once did a university subject about the sociology of knowledge. A bald summary of what I learned would be 'People believe things because people (lots of them) believe things. There's the work entitled
The Social Construction of Reality that substantiates the fact that we can inhabit climates of thought. As we grow up we are socialized into these climates and they become the lens through which we see the world and practice life. Thankfully these fishbowls in which we swim are not rigid. We can move beyond them. Society can advance because we can learn that what we thought to be true was was not. People can enjoy a better life if they are humble enough, brave enough and free enough to examine ideas. No one is compelled to live in ignorance. That we can be bound in prisons of bad ideas is seen in Jesus' declaration that He came to set the captives free - not only free from sin but free from the culture of the law of sin and death that sprang from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

It follows that if we are personally a hoarder of bad ideas or live from the beliefs of some social class or the system and culture of a denomination, we are prone to the disadvantage of the kind the Pharisees had when Jesus healed the blind man. Jesus came to heal all blind men and women by offering Himself as the lens in which to live, move and have our being. Such vision applies not only to spiritual things but our ability to live in the world with a spirit of wisdom and revelation.

Any one who lives in Jesus the person will see better than one who phlegmatically accepts everything
as is or actively sets themselves to resist change and anything that is new. With Jesus as our life we have the advantage of the mind of the Son of Man - the mind of Christ is open to all that is good and it does not call good evil or evil good on the basis of tradition, self-interests or lazy thinking. The mind of Christ is vital and discerning.

I feel a deep revulsion to narrow mindedness, dullness of intellect, the attachment to nonsense and inhibited ways of being that are too often assumed to be pleasing to God. I dislike it because it is anti-life and is ultimately anti-Christ. Any manipulation of the truth because it does not fit our identity or
'what I have always believed' inhibits life. Life has components like grace, truth love and liberty. After love, liberty has the most potential because it frees us to become explorers. This is why the poor in spirit get to see God and those who not so poor remain congealed in themselves. All of these qualities are represented in the person of Jesus, which is why it is important to have Jesus and not 'something else' as our life.

When I first got into Facebook I wrote down my religious views as charismatic. I had 'Come into the Spirit' as it is called in the mid 1990s and it changed my life with God. So much so that I do not eagerly go to places where there is no expectation of the the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit. To me this is like trying to have a drink where there is no water. The presence of Jesus does fill places and people. It's not emotionalism and its a darn sight more life multiplying that those spots where there is only Father, Son, the Holy Bible and themselves.

Later I changed what I had written in Facebook from charismatic to 'a disciple of Jesus Christ.' I believed this to be more basic to my life in God and more 'joined' to His person that claiming an allegiance to what can be a style of worship and
mode of being a church. This does not mean I renounced the expectation of His Presence or that I do not value the power gifts of the Spirit. I do and can operate in most of them, thanks to the grace of Jesus and the fact that I believe and lay hold of them. I have not yet raised a dead person but I have shaken hands with a humble man who has. To my mind we either represent Jesus in His fullness or something less. The extent to which we accommodate ourselves to 'less' is the degree to which we are Ok with the forms of godliness without power that Paul warned us of and I'm not into that.

In any case there are people who represent Jesus in power without the typical expression of charismatics and Pentecostals, even if the latter can be a rather joyful way of worshiping together. What counts, as Paul wrote, is not some outward behavior or religious contrivance but being a new creation because the One who rose from the dead is alive and releasing His Spirit into us. He is in us and we may choose Him as our life and learn to live in and from Him rather than lesser things - even religious ones. In any case, Jesus is a person, not a mode of worship. When He is in us we will have his nature, His patience, grace and love of people. His life will flow through us and we will multiply what He did. I am firmly of the conviction that rather than adopting some shell of a behavior we are better off to affirm that Jesus is our life and get on with being ourselves!

I commenced this post by discussing cultures and climates of belief. They are what they are according to their foundational ideas. The foundation of our Kingdom life today is the new covenant that annuls our life in Adam and the law and places us firmly in Jesus and His Spirit - or more accurately gifts us with Jesus as our life as opposed to the law and ancillary paraphernalia of religion. This separates us from the old creation and places us in the new or more bluntly moves us from death to life. Unless we live entirely in this realm and not partially, our new creation life will falter and die because it has no root.

It is essential to receive and agree with what God has done in Christ to access the infinite panorama of life that is ours in Him and represent Him as sons of God rather than as religious ideologues who are semi-dead and bent over, even while we claim to be alive. Not wanting to be unkind, but I have met people who are have come into the Spirit yet live in stalemate and stagnation because they have chosen to embed themselves in a denominational identity that smothers their sonship in Christ. I have met broken and directionless persons who insist that all one needs now
to cap things off is the gift of tongues. Other folk are able to give words of knowledge but their personal relationships are poison. Others lose themselves in praise and worship and have the spiritual discernment of a blind man. Whatever qualities the gifts of the Spirit was meant to bestow they certainly did not land on these guys! There is the gospel of the Kingdom and there are'gospels.'

I have written this by way of introduction to a post I found today by Dr Stephen Crosby entitled,
The Blessing and Curse of being Charismatic. The link here leads to the first in the series he is writing on this topic. I have read some of His books and recommend him as one who assists the Lord in fathering people because he himself is a son. He writes,

'You do not have to be a member of the family of God for long, before you will be exposed to one of the major divides in doctrine and practice among believers: the division over the continuation of all the gifts of the Spirit, and all the gifts of Ephesians 4:11-13 until the return of the Lord. This blog is the first in a series that examines the implications of the full humanity of our Lord on charismatic issues, and many other foundational facets of the gospel. There is much at stake.' More here.