Summary: Apostles were charismatic evangelists that connected and bonded with people in order to bring them to Christ. Explore five characteristics of charismatic Christians.
We all love high achievers. We love our professional athletes, entrepreneurs, and other “go-getters” that “make it” in the world. We also want to be like them in some ways and claim our moment in the spotlight. It’s no accident that we see tens of thousands of young people auditioning for “American Idol” just to get their fifteen minutes of fame. Unfortunately for us and for most of these unsuccessful contestants, we fall short of our goals. We lack the necessary talent or inner drive or the charisma to succeed. Failure and the thought of failure can drive us crazy. Knowing how our minds work and want to make ourselves better intrigues us.
Deep down we want to know about our inner person and our inner being. It’s interesting to know what goes on inside someone’s head and we have a whole field of study called psychology devoted to this topic. We also have this voyeuristic quality about us and we want to know what drives the behavior of other and also ourselves. Knowing that this sells, we see countless surveys that evaluate whether we are loving parents, stylish dressers, or know how to evaluate fine wines.
Just the other day I came across a study by Dr. Elizabeth Bard that evaluated a person’s choice of jellybeans. The study indicated that choices in jellybeans might reveal fundamental traits, especially if one’s choice of color has nothing to do with the flavor. The most popular color—especially among men—was black, followed by red. Least popular was purple and white. Here are traits indicated by choice of color. Listen carefully to see what type of person are you.
Black: A man exercises great personal charm in dealing with others. A woman is considered persistent in her demands and desires recognition and control.
Red: A man is capable of powerful emotional involvement; a woman has great charm.
White: A woman “seeks a relationship offering peace and intimacy.” A man “attempts to control his own destiny and yet needs praise and reinforcement from others to maintain self-confidence.”
Studies like this one are interesting, but you know what, by choosing a new favorite jellybean it isn’t going to make me a different person. So, in my estimation, these things are nice to know, but they aren’t going to help me one bit. In order to be a better person, I need to do things better. I need to take some action and improve my life.
This brings me to an interesting thought, what makes certain people “better” than others at certain things. The obvious answer is that they simply try harder. However, I must disagree based on the American Idol test. You see, the hardest working and most talented singers often get eliminated. Talent and hard work aren’t always enough. Sure, you got to be talented to win, but there are other qualities that may be equally important. Likewise, the smartest executives in the business world don’t always succeed because managing others involves something more than just mental bandwidth. Leading people means connecting with them. Being an American pop idol means connecting with the masses.
The same thing is true within the church. I know several people within the church who are nice people and have good qualities, but they are unable to lead people to Christ. Why? Their ability is often limited because they cannot connect with people and ministry is relational. Look at today’s lesson in Acts 5:12-20. Here we see the early church grow from about a couple dozen believers to approximately ten thousand devoted followers. This growth is the result of meaningful relationships that the Apostles established. They were able to connect with people search for meaning in their lives.
Charisma is the word that comes to mind when I visualize the Apostles drawing people to God. I think that charisma is important and want to see how we too can acquire it for the glory of God. I believe that the potential to be a charismatic Christian is within each of us; charisma is a learned quality. Before I begin speaking about charisma, I think it’s best to define what charisma means.
The word charisma is derived from the Greek word meaning “gift” or “divine favor” and it is often used to describe the ability to charm, influence, and motivate people. Charismatic people generally have magnetic personalities and project a certain unusual confidence, authenticity, vision, calmness, and assertiveness. While the ancient Greeks believed that charisma was an inborn trait, today many people believe that it can be taught or learned.
Charisma has a lot in common with evangelism because the evangelist must bond with people in order to spread the Gospel of Christ. Reaching people takes charisma. Think for a moment, wasn’t there someone important in your life that brought you to Christ. We are all in this church today because of someone else’s influence. That is charisma. Today we read about people flocking to the Apostles, we are reminded about the sick lying in the streets waiting to be cured, and can almost see the numbers being added to the early Church. My friends the phenomenon of the Apostolic Church is due to the charisma of the Holy Spirit flowing through the Apostles.