I was enjoying Chris's last little blog effort on Crazymatics (that is Charismatics who behave in embarrassing ways). The thing is that I am a Charismatic, at least experientially. I have no problem praying for healing, dealing with spirits and moving in the prophetic. However, these things quickly become wacky when a few simple realities aren't checked. The first is the myth of unmediated access simply has to be recognized. The moment we think we are a pure conduit of the un-interpreted word of God, then we should probably sit down and shut up before someone gets hurt. Seriously. This is one of the biggest problems I have with Charismata as it is practiced in the Pentecostal/Charismatic church. Just because you see a miracle or two doesn't mean all of a sudden you are king, at least if Jesus relinquished that position He failed to inform the rest of His Church.
The second is learn how to read the Bible. Man nothing is more annoying than someone stringing random verses together to try and make a point that the authors of those verse would have cringed to see. If you want to interpret the scriptures for the Church then you better be willing to put in the time studying. Read the scriptures in context. Let them change you, instead of always trying to back up your own wacky ideas. I got yet another frustrating email from some Mary who I am sure means well but is really not doing herself or others any favours pointing people to this crap. I get these periodically, guess that is part of the burden of pastoring in a denomination that has a Charismatic reputation. What is worse her message was directed to our church and warned our church to get out of the church because there are no God called pastors in the church??? I only got that far before writing her back with a terse little "you've mistaken me for someone else" letter.
Sometimes I can laugh about this, but the thing is it is really frustrating. One of Chris's respondants made an interesting point, he wasn't aware of any Charismatics that were really doing work with the poor or people on the margins, that it was really just self-indulgent crap they were into. Having been involved in renewal movements I would say that a lot of it is self-indulgent crap. We started to realize that if after a year you are just flopping like a flounder everytime someone prays for you, but nothing else has changed in your life - something is not right.
OK here is the frustrating part. I like it when God shows up and floors me. The rare occasion it happens I usually end up on my face, or crying out loudly even. I love the times I've been in prayer rooms so thick with God's presence the only thing you can do is crawl under, yes under, your chair. I love seeing healings, deliverances, words that change lives, etc. I love this stuff. But that stuff isn't what it is all about. That's the third problem. We've mistaken the gifts for God and missed what God really wants to do.
I would get angry when folks in the renewal would start telling us it was now a revival. You don't get to name that - God does. And if it is a revival then folks are going to be changed. They are going to go out from the Church and feed the poor, find the lost, heal the sick, free the prisoners, love the unloved, and all the things that Jesus longs to do in our world! And if it is a revival then people are going to respond, they will come in and go out just like the rest. Until that happens all you have is a bless-me club. And that is what gets me angry. We have reduced the gospel until it has been completely stripped of power.
Sure you might think that is power knocking you to the ground. And it is. But it is nothing compared to what God really wants to do, and what God is trying to get your attention to do.
So the next time you end up in a meeting where God is present in a 'Charismatic' way. Do everyone a favour, especially yourself. Open up your ears to hear what God is really saying. I am convinced it will be more like "don't be afraid" instead of the fearmongering that is usually passed off in His name. And it will be "don't be afraid" for a reason - you will be about to enter the most challenging time of your life; as Christ is sent to the World so are you.