Pastor's Blog

I have had more than one person from the Holy Spirit movement visit our church only to leave after a few weeks, complaining that the Holy Spirit is not present in our church.

When I have asked them to elaborate, it inevitably boils down to things like:
Your people don’t “get into” the “worship”.
They usually don’t spontaneously clap or cheer.
Most don’t raise their hands, close their eyes, or sway while they sing.
They don’t whisper “Jesus, yes Jesus, thank you Jesus!” or shout “Hallelujah!” between verses or songs.

We don’t stop people from doing any of these things.  But when people accustomed to these practices visit our church, the first week they do what they’re accustomed to doing.  Then they realize they’re the only ones doing it.  With each passing week their hands wave less and get a little lower.  Oddly enough, if everyone else isn’t doing it, they can’t “feel the Spirit moving”.

Of course, if we who are more restrained in our emotional expressions were to attend a Pentecostal service, we most likely wouldn’t be comfortable or feel the Spirit moving there either! 

I think the mistake is believing that this has to do with the presence or absence of the Holy Spirit.  The truth is that it has to do with feeling comfortable in our social surroundings.  We like to be with people who think the way we think and live the way we live.  We like familiarity.

I remember visiting the various “nations” of the world at Disney’s Epcot.  I was comfortable with Canada, the UK, Germany, France, Norway, and Italy.  Morocco creeped me out.  I had to get out of there.  I felt uncomfortable and almost afraid in the Moroccan “village” because it was culturally unlike anything that I knew.

We all think that the way we think about and do things is the divinely approved way.  We think that in order to worship God, it can only be done this one way.  We believe we must find fault with other ways that are different.

Perhaps the reverse is the truth.  God is bigger than all of the cultural forms.  He is not limited to any one of them.  No one form is perfect or sufficient in and of itself, but each of them has something in which He delights.

We want to condemn and find fault with that which differs from our understanding.  But maybe all we need to say is “that is different and uncomfortable to me”.  (Ask anyone who has ever served in a non-European field as a missionary.  They must do this!)  If people are worshipping the Father in spirit and in truth, God is perfectly comfortable with them.  He seeks such to worship Him.

That is very hard for us to accept because we are that small, that narrow, that limited.  God is IMMENSE.

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