In one small corner of my spiritual life, I have become involved in a more charismatic Christian movement than I’ve ever been involved in all my years (26!) of being a Christian. For those of you who grew up in the ultra-conservative, Bible-centered brand of Christianity in which I did, you’ll think that this is a sort of confession. I can assure you – it is not.
Before I start, let me make one thing plain: the leaders of this group are staunchly Christian in the most important way. Their Gospel is exactly the same as mine: I am more broken than I ever care to acknowledge, but with Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I am intimately loved and infinitely accepted by the wildly relational God of Heaven.
On the spectrum of charismatic groups – how do I say this? – this group is actually on the conservative, strongly Bible-focused end. The main difference between them and the Christians I grew up around is in the way that they express, worship, and make life-application in response to that Gospel. Overall, it has been really good for me just to watch and learn and participate and be formed by God as I often find myself being asked to pray or listen or worship in ways that are just plainly very different than the ways I prayed, listened, and worshipped during my growing-up years. To be honest, sometimes the way they pray or worship makes me insecure and uncomfortable. But out of those insecurities and discomfort, I find myself forced to ask, “What do I really think about worship and prayer and the ways Christianity plays out in my life?”
It is in these moments that I must humbly admit that, in so many ways, I am still figuring all of that out.
It is also in these moments that I have found that it is actually a beautiful, wonderful, pride-smashing, self-righteousness-bashing thing to be insecure and uncomfortable! When I’m insecure and uncomfortable and asking myself those important questions, then – and only then – can I be sure that I’m surrendering more and more of my mind and heart to God and that I’m depending more genuinely on Him to form me into all He created me to be. If I am always secure and comfortable in every group of Christians, in every church, in every setting, how can my current theology be changed and molded and made more firm?
It is not at all wrong to seek affirmation, comfort, and security from God regarding my views about such-and-such a thing. But when all I feel is security and confidence that I am just exactly right about everything, what I am really saying is, “I have it all figured out! God has very little work left to do in molding my mind and heart!” It is with this attitude that I more grotesquely deny the very Gospel with which I began.
When I mentioned this group I’m involved with to one of our pastors in passing, he said, “Their theology is really charismatic, isn’t it?” He said it without judgment, without angst, without fear. It was just an observation to him. It made me feel like it’s ok to practice my Christianity differently than they do. It gave me utter freedom to continue to figure out where I fit in this Body of Christ – the universal Church. It let me trust God to lead and form me in the ways I worship and apply what I read in the Bible or hear from His Spirit. (By the way, as a mom of two young boys, I am currently feeling very strongly “led” to the Quietude movement! Look it up. Ha.)
Each movement has its widespread, stereotypical strengths and weaknesses. The conservative Christian movement in which I grew up is strong in love for the Bible and weak in authentic community. The Christian Cru movement in which I worked for a decade is strong in sharing with others how to know God, but struggles with the idealistic dualism of elevating the spiritual over all other areas of life. The small corner of the charismatic movement that I have seen is very full of faith and listening to God’s Spirit, but can concoct pure emotion into pure reality, denying the earth-bound brokenness of mankind. I could go on and on…
All I know is that I almost never felt insecure or uncomfortable in the Christianity that I knew growing up. Now, by God’s grace, I’m embracing it. The more I figure it out, the more figuring-out I realize I have left to do.
We are all just figuring it out. If you think you already have it all figured out, I’m glad to break it to you: you have it far less figured out than you think.
*A note to all you grammar-snobs, like me. I know I ended a lot of sentences in this post with a preposition! Most of the time, I felt that my point would have been lost in my proper English. Please forgive me. And, if u have know idea what I’m talking bout write now, consider yourself officially free from the grammar-righteousness with which a few of us struggle.