A kind of curious thing has been going on in my thinking lately. On the one hand those of us in Jesus are led by the Spirit. As Jesus told us, we're not to think about what to say ahead of time in the event that we face an hour of persecution. The Spirit will give us words to say then. But also, of course, we have Scripture, the word of God given to us in many words.
Add to this the witness of the church. There is no faster growing segment of the church growing than the Pentecostal, charismatic side of it. There surely are some secondary factors, but I believe the primary reason is because of the power and working of the Holy Spirit. These churches are purposefully more open to the Spirit, whatever we might say about all their doctrine and theology and practice. At the same time we see a resurgence in the church for an appreciation of liturgy. The Book of Common Prayer from which I have been taking a prayer from weekly is one prime example.
I am becoming more and more convinced that we need both. We need the freedom, spontaneity and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. I believe in all the gifts of the Spirit for today, though how they work out in local congregations will vary. And I believe everyone in Jesus strictly speaking is a charismatic Christian already, having the gift of the Spirit, whether or not they believe in or practice any of the gifts that are more common in Pentecostal, charismatic circles. We also need every word of Scripture to be received as God's word to us. And we need the witness of the church now and through the ages. What the church has said and written does matter, even though all must be critiqued in view of God's word. But the critique itself includes not just each one of us, but the church together, necessarily, and with the help of the Spirit. We can benefit much from written prayers and liturgy, helping us to pray, even as Jesus taught his disciples and us to learn to pray -through a set prayer.
The Spirit can work powerfully through both, and the best way for us to live in Jesus is to include both the spontaneous and the set. Of course the bottom line is learning to love God and love people through following Jesus. And sharing the gospel by living it out, as well as giving a verbal witness to it. In all of this God is at work in us through Jesus as the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
We know we woefully fall short, yet to recognize and acknowledge this can help us to look to our only Redeemer, Savior and Lord: God through Jesus by the Spirit. The work begins in us and then out from us to others.
What would you like to share about this, or any thoughts?