About Jesus - Steve Sweetman

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The Failure of the Charismatic Movement

To preface what I am about to say, let me stare that God never fails at anything He does, yet our response to what God does often fails. Jesus did not fail in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the 1960 and 70ís, but our part in that outpouring fell way too short of our Lordís intention.

Let me say that the Charismatic Movement did have some lasting effects on the church and on individuals. I am an example of how the Holy Spirit in those days touched my life for ever.

The biggest effect that I see the Charismatic Movement had on church life was in the area of worship and the use of some of the gifts of the Spirit. These good effects are still with us today.

The biggest failure of the movement, (our failure, not the Lordís) was to make a dramatic change in the structure of the church, at least in North America. I can remember many prophetic messages saying such things as, "the day of the big named Christian super-star is over. We are all to be stars in Godís Kingdom. No longer would there be a few well known men drawing people unto themselves, but we would all draw people to Jesus".

Has this prophecy come true? I donít think so. I think the opposite has come true. There has become more big named super-star Christians, whether in pastoring, teaching, TV or music. Tuns of books are sold making many famous. Many CDís and tapes have been distributed, making Christian musicians big as secular rock stars. Is this what these prophecies were telling us? I donít think so.

The Holy Spirit was to penetrate each of our lives, bringing humility and unity to the church. The unity lasted for only a few years then individual Christian super-stars rose up drawing people unto themselves resulting in Charismatic denominations. Remember that word, "denomination"" Do you remember how we felt back in the 70ís when we heard that word? We werenít impressed with denominations, were we.

The unity of the Spirit dissipated into distinct sub groups within the movement at large. Our Charismatic churches now look very similar to the churches we came out of 30 or 40 years ago.

Back in the 70ís we stressed that the church should be an organism, not an organization. Those who were around in those days will surely remember this. A organism is something that is natural, alive and growing. An organization, although it can grow, is something very structured, man made and institutionalized. Yet to bring some structure to the Charismatic Movement we structuralized it to death.

Is this what Jesus wanted when He poured His Spirit on us back in those days? Again, I donít think so. We just have a hard time continuing in the way our Lord sets out for us in whatever He does. It was like this in the days of the Children of Israel in the Old Testament, and it is still that way today. We often put the Children of Israel down for their constant wandering astray, but we are not all that different from them?

The failure of the Charismatic movement to keep the unity of the Spirit is a sad commentary on our ability to follow Jesus. I guess our deprived nature still has its influence in our lives.

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