Back in the 1970’s I resumed fellowship in the small Pentecostal church I attended with my mother as a teenager. Mom was one of thirteen children of a German-Irish father and Swedish immigrant mother who were both Pentecostals. In fact, my grandfather was a kind of pioneer preacher from the early days of the Apostolic branch of the movement. So I admit to a significant familiarity with the Pentecostal experience.
By the seventies the Charismatic Movement was in full swing, and beginning to impact some of the Pentecostal churches in positive ways. In our church, the dress codes were becoming more relaxed and there was a greater emphasis on the blessings and joy of the Lord. The fascinating part to me was the number of denominational walls that were being crossed by this outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Episcopal, Anglican, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic and other groups of believers.
The closest some of us came to direct association with the Charismatic Movement was in attending meetings of the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International. But it was not long before we became identified with the more liberal minded Charismatics than the hard core Pentecostal denominations that were well-known. As a matter of fact, it was easier to describe our church by the word Charismatic, because we all believed in present day gifts of prophecy and speaking in other tongues, as well as divine healing and miracles. This is what mainly separated us from the traditional mainline churches back then.
In later years I have made a greater effort to identify with all born-again Christians from different backgrounds than mine. So I lost touch with what Charismatic means in today’s Christian circles. Most people today learn about Charismatic Christianity from Christian Televangelists. These days I am shocked at what comes under the banner of Charismatic today. To many it is a code word for greed, vanity, circus-like showmanship, arrogance and ridiculous behavior.
While I am embarrassed at some of the actions of my fellow Charismatics, I do not deny the genuine life, joy, peace and vitality of the experience we call the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. I do not regret for one moment the fact of my background, even though we have sometimes got out of balance in our understanding and practices.
Jesus told His apostles that they would receive power after the Holy Spirit came upon them. And they did. Jesus wants to empower all of His followers, in order that they will continue in the work He started two thousand years ago. Please do not let the errors of some discourage you from receiving all the gifts God has in store for you! Believe me when I say that I need for you to be filled with the Holy Spirit! Yes, when the whole church is built up, we are all empowered as well. Each one has a specific function that we all need operational to be spiritually strong and healthy.
What do you say to some of us who have experienced what I am talking about, simply pulling back? We could take a closer look at some of our habits and practices to see if they are truly consistent with the Lord’s plan for His Church. We need not be ashamed of His work in our lives, or be overly concerned with what the world thinks about us. But we do need to give up the magic shows, the mental telepathy, the manipulation of crowds, and the shear greed displayed by some. Stop supporting activities like these that hurt the cause of Christ!
Looking back, I can see how we have been caught up in emotional experiences and have gotten side tracked. It is not that hard to do. If we stay humble before Him, He will bring us back on track. Thankfully we have the words of Jesus and His personal disciples to remind us of the most important thing, the Love of God. (1 Corinthians 13). At the same time, the New Testament continues to encourage us to be empowered in the Lord, to prophesy, speak with tongues and exercise all the spiritual gifts to build up the Church and glorify Him!