For my birthday, my Dad bought me a book by Charismatic Pastor Robby Dawkins entitled Do What Jesus Did. This book basically espouses the idea that the Holy Spirit is active and performing powerful miracles in the redemption process. This is a concept, I completely agree with and wholeheartedly embrace. Yet, as I laid stretched out on my couch, reading the book I began to get an uncomfortable feeling. It is a feeling that over the years, I have learned to trust. It is the feeling that while what I am reading maybe partially true something is just not right. Thus began my long, sleepless night.
Whenever I get this feeling It consumes me. My wife lovingly calls it my “O.C.D. complex.” I will not stop until i figure out exactly what is bothering me. I will spend days, weeks, and months praying, contemplating, and studying the subject until God reveals what the missing piece of the puzzle is. This was no exception. So as I laid in bed, watching a Twilight Zone rerun, I began to work out exactly what it is that was bothering me. Three infomercials and a program about the American-Mexican war on the History Channel later, I started to realize what about Robby Dawkins’s book bothered me.
I have never disagreed with the Charismatic concept. In fact, I believe I had a powerful miracle encounter with God myself. I am a drug addict, by the Grace of Jesus, I am no longer a drug user. When God opened my eyes to the damage my addiction was causing, I immediately made the decision to stop using. I don’t know if you know anything about cocaine and heroin addiction but the withdraw symptoms are horrible. Most of the time, methadone or some other drug substitute is required to prevent physical damage to the body. Yet, my withdraws from those two drugs seemed to me to be no worse than a severe case of a cold or flu. To top it off, I quit those two horrific drugs cold turkey. So when I say God sets people free and moves in power, they are more than just words. I am living proof.
So it was not the Charismatic concept I took issue with. What bothered me is the same old concern that crops up every time, I delve into the subject of Charismatics. The problem is the authors and those who espouse this movement always seem to imply within their arguments that presence of God is not there unless a powerful movement or action of the Holy Spirit is also present.
Eureka! I had it. I had discovered the source of the uncomfortable feeling that plagued me. Immediately, I called my Father and expressed my concerns. He has had more contact with charismatic movement than I. It is always good to be sure that my own biases were not coloring my judgement. After confirming that he too had experienced those concerns, he went on to explain that in his experience of the Charismatic movement, that I was picking at semantics. He felt that what I thought they were implying, was a misinterpretation of their choice of words. He agreed that their words did not always correctly represent the reality, but that did not make what they believed wrong.
While there may be truth to this, this dismissal of word meaning to mere semantics bothers me. As believers, we are the children of God. We are to represent the truth of the Kingdom Reality. If our words do not both literally and expressly imply that truth, we are falsely representing the reality. When the reality we represent does not match with the truth of the reality of the Kingdom, instead leading someone to Christ, we can actually turn them away. As gospel-bearers this should never be acceptable. Every effort should be made to accurately portray the Kingdom reality in both action and word.
Now, I realize that we are imperfect humans. I understand we are not going to do everything perfectly. However, I think a huge problem within the body of Christ is that when God reveals a new tactic, strategy, or revelation that we immediately began shouting the message without taking the time to really consider how we are presenting that message.
Dismissing our packaging of a Godly message to the realm of mere semantics is a terrible mistake. It is one that can affect the acceptance or rejection of the Gospel message. Fortunately for us, we serve a God full of Grace. He can over-come any obstacle, even the ones we create our selves with our well-intended efforts.