The Missional Purpose of Renewal
I have heard reported that in these renewals the Holy Spirit challenges people to share what they have received from God with those outside the community of faith. For many this is a hard message. Often, instead of sharing the message with those outside the Kingdom, it is shared with other congregations. It becomes a Renewal Movement purely for the saved. Then sadly the renewal experience grinds to a halt. Andy Coller from Baptist World Aid reflects on the purpose of renewal and how the agenda of the Holy Spirit is at times hijacked by us for our own purposes.
The Spirit of the LORD is on me… Luke 4:16-21
Luk 4:16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21 and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Throughout all of my adult life I have witnessed various renewals within congregations. The Spirit of God truly does bless and there is great excitement. But mostly, the excitement wanes and the congregation go back to where they used to be.
I have heard reported that in these renewals the Holy Spirit challenges people to share what they have received from God with those outside the community of faith. For many this is a hard message. Often, instead of sharing the message with those outside the Kingdom, it is shared with other congregations. It becomes a Renewal Movement purely for the saved. Then sadly the renewal experience grinds to a halt.
Spiritual Renewal given for Purpose
When we look in the Bible it seems that the Holy Spirit is not given primarily for the personal benefit of the receiver.
In Exodus we read Ex 31:1-5 Then the LORD said to Moses, 2 “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts—4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 5 to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship.
Bezalel was filled with the Holy Spirit so he could serve God and the Israelite community in building the Tabernacle. The Spirit filled the prophets so that they could deliver God’s message. On the day of Pentecost the results of the filling by the Holy Spirit was the proclamation of the Gospel.
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because…
In Luke 4 we see the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. He was empowered by the Holy Spirit ‘because’ he had ministry to perform. It wasn’t to make him feel all warm and fuzzy. And note where the ministry was directed: not the rich, not the religious, not the comfortable and not the healthy. Jesus needed the power of the Holy Spirit to fulfil his ministry, and not just the ability to perform the actual act of ministry but the fortitude to endure rejection and misunderstanding.
We continue the ministry of Jesus
Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses
Jesus promised his followers that they would receive the same filling or anointing that he received. We have available the same power that Jesus had. Like Jesus, it is power with purpose. We are to Imitate Christ and continue the work he started. Our work too it to ‘preach the gospel’. Likewise we should be looking to minister to the poor and oppressed. This ministry has been spiritualised by some to only refer to the spiritually poor and spiritually oppressed. This is a valid ministry. Spiritual oppression is a real issue that needs the Holy Spirit power to tackle. Jesus did minister to the spiritually oppressed.
However, Jesus spent a lot of time with the rejected people in society. He ministered to the physically sick. He was loved by the poor. His strongest supporters were tax collectors and prostitutes. And, interestingly, he was hated by the religious rich!
Do you want Holy Spirit power?
I know lots of people praying for the Holy Spirit to fill them and give them power. How about you? Do you want Holy Spirit power? If so, are you willing to accept all that goes with it? It will be power with purpose.
Are you willing to leave the comfort of the congregation and befriend prostitutes, those suffering mental illness, the single mum across the road who has a noisy party every weekend, or the old guy down the road who tells the same story every time you talk to him?
Andy Coller works as the Queensland Rep for Baptist World Aid
Follow him on Twitter: http://twitter.com/andycoller