Summary: The collision of the charismatic and evangelical, and a call to deep love.
Two Streams Converge: Series: How Broad Is The Kingdom Of God
Luke 4:1-14 January 29, 2006
Gasoline and a spark. Car keys and a 16yr old. Vinegar and baking soda. Stephen Harper and Paul Martin. Sometimes, when you put two things together, the end result can either be messy and destructive, or can be harnessed for great good. I think the same is true of what Richard Foster calls the “charismatic, or spirit-empowered stream” and the “evangelical, or word-centered stream”. Over the past three weeks we have intentionally planned our worship services to explore those two streams. Two weeks ago we brought the two together in an enthusiastic way; last week we led a very word-centered service, today we led a charismatic service. What end result will we see from bringing these two together?
Lessons From Church History:
In the very early years of the 20th century, God started something new. God did it in the US, in a place called Azusa Street LA, through a black preacher named William Seymour. For three years, 3 times a day, 7 days a week there were worship services that united people of all races, that were full of exuberant worship and accompanied very noticeably by demonstrations of the power of God such as speaking in tongues. Most church historians point to that revival as the beginnings of the Pentecostal movement – a movement which now numbers more than 523 million people world-wide, compared to 210 million evangelicals, and which sees anywhere from 10%-20% annual growth. (from David A. Barrett, World Christian Encyclopedia, 2001, p 4, accessed at http://www.bible.ca/global-religion-statistics-world-christian-encyclopedia.htm).
Although the “Charismatic Stream” has existed throughout church history, the story of Christianity in the 20th century is largely the story of the Pentecostal movement. And not just in Pentecostal churches – the movement has had a very significant impact on the rest of the church as well. The shift in musical style in the Christian church finds roots in the charismatic movement, as does the emphasis on the Holy Spirit, on spiritual gifts, and on the power of God to be experienced in our daily living. Much of this shift has happened in our lifetimes.
About 8 months ago, I had coffee with our Area Minister, Sam Breakey, and was sharing some of the things going on here at Laurier. As I talked about the various changes, and our struggle with these, Sam made an insightful comment that has stuck with me: “It isn’t that Laurier is changing; the entire church is changing.”
So What Do We Do With It?
We turn first to Scripture. More specifically, to the person of Jesus. Luke 4:1-14. Jesus has just been baptized by John, and here is what happens next:
“1Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, 2where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
3The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread."
4Jesus answered, "It is written: ’Man does not live on bread alone.’"
5The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7So if you worship me, it will all be yours."
8Jesus answered, "It is written: ’Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’"
9The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down from here. 10For it is written:
" ’He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully;
11they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’"
12Jesus answered, "It says: ’Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’"
13When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
14Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.”
“Filled With The Spirit”
Luke makes sure that we understand something right at the beginning – Jesus was quote “full of the Holy Spirit.” And while in the desert, Jesus was “led by the Spirit”. Twice in the first verse – obviously trying to make a point! This is the heart of the charismatic stream – a desire that all of us might be like Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit. And despite all of the concentration on seeing “supernatural signs and wonders” as the evidence of the fullness of the Spirit, even William Seymour on Azusa Street preached and believed that the highest evidence was love – not tongues or healings or those types of spiritual experiences. When we look at Jesus, that is the most important result that we see. Luke ends the story with the same point – at the end of the temptation, “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit.” (vs 14).