I had a great conversation with my spiritual father earlier today regarding the current state of the Pentecostal/Charismatic church. I was sharing with him about a recent paper I wrote about the Methodist roots of the Pentecostal out-pouring in the early 1900’s. One thing I discovered while researching the paper is that when people forget their roots, they tend to lose perspective.
Why I believe this is important is because there are so many fads that keep cropping up in the body that tends to distract the church from its primary mission which to share the love of God in the power of the Holy Spirit. The hunger that exist both in and outside of the church is encouraging on the one hand and instructive on the other.
We are told in the gospel of Matthew 9:35 that “Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people”. He then informed his disciples “the harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few. They then had the opportunity to become co-laborer with Jesus in meeting the needs of the masses.
Sandwiched in between those two verses is a statement which I believe is key to understanding the ministry of Jesus and the complacency within the modern church. Mathew 9:36 tells us that “seeing the crowds, Jesus was moved with compassion on them, because they were tired and scattered like sheep having no shepherd”. It was compassion that served as the prime motivator of His ministry and it can be compassion that causes us to regain a desire to see the hurting, searching masses, healed by the presence and power of God.
Compassion is defined as “understanding or empathy for the suffering of others” and as such requires that one takes the attention off of oneself onto the other. This may explain why so few of us are experiencing the dimension of the power of God for ministry we desire. When we turn our attention away from maintaining our organizations, institutions, buildings and ministries, I believe we position ourselves to receive an inflow of the compassion of the Lord.
Is it possible the we have become so preoccupied with the “next big thing” we are expecting God to do instead of recognizing what God is doing all around us in getting involved in that? True, it may not be comfortable for us as observers rather than participants, but if we are going to be faithful to our call and mission, Jesus invites us to get involved in the redemptive work of God. We may be waiting on the next move of God but God is expecting us to move.