I grew up in a charismatic worldview. I was praying for people to be healed at the age of 7. I was exposed to people speaking in tongues, being “slain” in the spirit, and a variety of other typical charismatic experiences. It’s what I know. I’ve been taught since I was a child that it’s totally biblical and absolutely should be happening in the 21st century. As a matter of fact, even Jesus himself says in John 14:12, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
If that’s true, then it seems going back to my simple arithmetic from last month that if Jesus healed the sick, cast out demons, raised the dead then as a normal Christian, I should be doing those same things. I don’t believe that the disciples were superhuman followers of Jesus, and I don’t even believe that Jesus was superhuman. I believe that Jesus was fully human, fully reliant on the Father to move in power, setting precedent for us as fully human beings relying fully on the power of the Father and Holy Spirit as well.
You may be asking yourself, what does this worldview have to do with the issue of unity. Great question! It is a 180 degree separation from worldviews which are more conservative. This is a problem.
In John 15:13, Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Ouch! You’ve read in this blog before, Justin Christopher talk about how humility is key to unity. He’s right and it’s incredibly painful.
If we really believe that the Kingdom of God will come when people humble themselves and pray, then not only do we have to humble ourselves toward the Creator of all things, but towards each other. If I hold my doctrine dearer to my heart than I do sitting down and praying with someone from the other side of the aisle, then I am not walking in love.
One of my friends from a conservative background told me the other day that the tension he feels with Charismatics is that somehow his faith is made less significant, as though Charismatics are the Elite branch in Chistendom. What a travesty! There is a deep need in the Charismatic movement for a depth in character, work ethic, being men and women of the word and a thousand other very Godly manifestations or facets of His character that are found more often in mainline denominations.
So to all of you from a conservative heritage, let me be the first Charismatic to apologize for making you feel like your faith is less significant. If you don’t speak in tongues, you are absolutely saved and filled with the spirit of God. I am sorry that we have made you feel insignificant or less in any form or fashion. That I can assure you is not what love does. Just because we each prefer beef or chicken, expressive or contemplative, Coke or Dr. Pepper, Billy Graham or Bill Johnson, should not have any indication of our love of Jesus and his great delight in us as His bride.
The painful part comes when Charismatic’s feel like we have to be covered by a wet blanket in order to get along with everyone else or when conservatives feel stretched to do things that they aren’t convinced are biblical. How can we honor each other without throwing out labels of heretic or religious/legalistic?
Stronger Together Than Apart
If the 24 elders are bowing down before the throne proclaiming the holiness of God every few seconds, possibly because each time they raise their face to God they see a new facet of His majesty and splendor, is it possible that there is more to God than we as humans know? For all of eternity past and yet to come, the elders continually see something new about God that causes them to fall in worship. I just happen to believe that He is really big and we have not even begun to experience the vastness of his personality.
None of us is fully wrong or fully right. 1 Cor. 13:12 says, “for now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” When all the superfluous issues are laid to rest and we can worship Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith together in unity, then revival will come.
Walking in unity doesn’t mean that I have to forgo my charismatic worldview, nor does it mean that we all have to look the same. It does mean that we have to love Jesus more than we love doctrine and that can be a very scary thing. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” And in John 16:33 it says, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
Jill Hurley is the Executive Director of Tech 24-7, a campus ministry at Texas Tech University which has invited students from all denominations and backgrounds to join together in the Campus House of Prayer (CHOP) and pray for our Texas Tech University. We also host a weekly gathering called Ekballo, which serves as a training ground to train students in how to practically do evangelism and discipleship as students. She is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Religion and Anthropology, and hopes to graduate in the next two years. Jill is single and taking applications for currently unfilled roles as husband and children. If you would like to apply for either, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. She is partially joking.