(Bible quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise stated)
Whatever Happened to the Charismatic Movement?
17th May 2008
If you follow what’s known as the Church Calendar (I don’t, but I’m in a small minority), then you’ll be aware that last Sunday was celebrated as Pentecost (actually, as I understand it, Pentecost is on a Saturday, but never mind).
I got talking to a friend before the Sunday morning meeting, and we discussed the fact that our churches seem to see less of the gifts of the Holy Spirit than we used to. Of course, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are still seen in many churches in our country. And I’m sure that some churches are seeing an increase in their use. But many are not.
Paradoxically, I think it’s true to say that, compared to twenty years ago, many more churches accept the validity of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It seems that we’ve grown doctrinally about these things, but diminished in practice. As we’ve understood more, so we’ve done less. How sad! Also paradoxically, although more churches accept the gifts of the Spirit (at least theoretically) they seem to be preached about less. As my friend observed, it’s rare these days to hear a sermon on the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Why is this?
During the meeting, I was praying about this. There are many partial answers but I think God gave me one to think about. In the parable of the sower, Matthew 13v22 says:
The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.
Until that moment, I’d always imagined that the sower sowed the seed into a part of the field that was already covered in weeds, but the Spirit seemed to be saying that in the English church, much seed was sown 20-40 years ago and the weeds have grown up since that time, and are choking the seed and making less and less fruitful.
The weeds are:
The worries of this life: Many Christians are worried about many things – not just for ourselves but also for our loved ones or for our country, for example. We forget that Satan loves us to be worried, because worry chokes the Word of God in us, making us unfruitful. We need to get back to the faith we had in the beginning – actually trusting God for ourselves, and for loved ones, and for the world.
The deceitfulness of wealth: Money tends to distract us so easily from the things of God. If we think we don’t have enough, we obsess about how to get more. If we have plenty, we obsess about how to keep it and grow it. But as Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6v10:
… the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
And as Jesus said in Matthew 6v24 and Luke 16v13:
No-one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
How much time do I spend in prayer? And how much time do I spend worrying? And how much looking for ways to spend less, or earn more, or invest better?
How much of my security comes through faith in the God who will never let me down, and how much in pension plans and insurance policies and bank accounts.
When I was a young Christian, I was penniless, but I would have done anything, gone anywhere, given anything, for Jesus. And I trusted Him. And He’s looked after me, and prospered me. I now live in a nice house and drive a nice car. And I all have still belongs to Jesus. And He can ask me for it any time He wants. But would I give up my possessions and comforts for Him now? Do I think that all sounds a bit too radical now?
Have the weeds grown up? And are they choking the Word of God in me?
What can I do to get the weeds cleared away so that the Word in me can bear fruit? I can get my relationship with Jesus right! He said:
So it's Father who will deal with the weeds. But Jesus said later in the same passage:
It's our relationship with Him that makes the difference. Are we willing to invest time and effort in improving that relationship?