When we look at the history of moves of the Spirit, we see the founding fire often wanes to “middle-class acceptability. Quiet order replaces passion, and maintaining the respect of the community overrides caring for the outcast” Many divisions among churches and denominations have splits occurred over the concern that the Church had lost its fervor and a desire to go back to its roots.
The same concern has been addressed in the Pentecostal and Charismatic movement. Harvard theologian Harvey Cox warns Pentecostalism “might lose touch completely with its humble origins and become the righteous spiritual ideology of an affluent middle class” (Cox, Fire from Heaven, pp.71, 297). Even Paul addressed this matter in his letter to the Thessalonians, “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-20).
As our Renewal movement becomes established, organizations are formed, influence increases, and prosperity overtakes us—let us not fall victim to middle-class Christianity. Let us not desire respectability over passion. I am a respectable person, and I applaud good social behavior. Paul didn’t want the Thessalonians to lose their fire, but he further instructed, “Test everything. Hold on to the good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
I am not proposing foolishness or strangeness. But let us not run from foolishness for Christ’s sake, for “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).
If we must seek respect, may it be the respect of heaven for a well-lived life, full of sacrificial love and humility. May we fully embrace the scandal of the cross.
If we must seek respect, may it be the respect of heaven for a well-lived life, full of sacrificial love and humility. May we fully embrace the scandal of the cross. The scandalous idea that the infinite God would deign to become a finite man and give His Own life on the cross for our sin. The scandal of The Great becoming low so the low may become great.
May we model our lives after His. May we, like Him, embrace the scandal of mercy and forgiveness. The scandal of a God Who still engages with humanity through the power of His Spirit. The scandal of the poor being treated as equals and the sinners being invited to dine with the King. May we embrace the censor of the respectable and “wage war” against the urge not to rock the boat.
May the inevitable prosperity which follows the righteous (Proverbs 13:21; 21:21) not shift our focus. May we embrace the simplicity of devotion even as our movement becomes complex. As we grow in favor and organization—may we choose the favor of God over the favor of men, and maintain the fire of the Spirit which transforms the world.
May we embrace the simplicity of devotion even as our movement becomes complex. As we grow in favor and organization—may we choose the favor of God over the favor of men, and maintain the fire of the Spirit which transforms the world.
Action Point: In what ways can we as a body collectively take action to “strike down” the desire to simply be well-liked, especially when that desire causes us to ignore the push of the Holy Spirit?
P.S. As you examine your life for ways to move forward with God and step out in faith, you may begin questioning your summer plans. If so, pray about taking your faith-walk forward dramatically this summer through one of our summer offerings: Greater Things and Youth Power Invasion. Global Summer Intensive condenses a year’s worth of supernatural ministry school training into just a few weeks in the summer. Greater Things is our biggest conference of the year and promises to light fires for healing and revival in all attendees. Youth Power Invasion is an international ministry trip for youth, and there’s nothing like it. Learn more about each by clicking on their title above.