‘Charismatic’ is frequently used to describe a gifted, talented, naturally outstanding person or a larger than life personality, but that’s not how I’m using the term and it’s not how the apostle Paul used it either. When Paul used the term he used it to describe the special abilities the Spirit gives to ordinary people, everyday Christians – supernatural gifts regardless of education, talent or personality that God gives in order to fulfil his purposes. It wasn’t about being clever, humanly wise, incredibly intelligent, super able etc.. but people who knew their limitations and need and had to depend on Another to get the job done.
It’s what transformed the followers of Jesus from a timid band of people into a force to be reckoned with. It’s what made the early church such a vibrant, energetic, organism, pulsating with life, a church that grew beyond all imagination, and impacted the world in a way no one could ever have imagined. A church alive to and empowered by the Presence of the Spirit.
What about today? One of the biggest dangers we face is confidence in ourselves, our own ability, our own intellect, our own wisdom, our own know how, strategies and programs, professionalism, etc.. another is confusing modern songs (or even certain old ones), a song set, rhythms, volume, raising hands, clapping, dancing etc. with the charismatic…. all of which may have their place, but they do not make us charismatic, in fact we can do all those things and not be charismatic.
To be charismatic is to be open to the drama of the Presence of the Spirit – for God to invade our lives and meetings, to know his very real manifest Presence and power. It means a willingness to be open to and respond to/move with the Spirit. It involves being filled together – whatever that may look and feel like on any given occasion. It means worship and prayer in the Spirit. It means being open to the prophetic, to words of knowledge and wisdom, to gifts of healing, the discerning of spirits, miracles, faith, the gift of tongues and interpretation of tongues. It means the priesthood of all believers, and not the few. It means that God is sovereign – the Spirit blows where he wills and how he wills, we don’t tell him what to do and when. It also means we give ourselves to desiring and seeking earnestly what he wants to give, to placing ourselves in the way of the Spirit and not quenching him. It means leaving the predictable harbour of safety and still waters, and launching out on fresh vibrant waters, and catching the fresh breezes and wind of the Spirit, all the while marking our way with the charts of the Word.
How charismatic are you? Is it time to pull up the anchor and set your sails to the fresh winds of the Spirit?