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« In A Twitter | Main | The Politics of Epiphany »

I’m Like, “Wow!”

Okay.  I’m breaking down.  I was raised and educated to express myself through concise speech and choosing the precise word that matches my thought.  Now, I live in a culture that values the visual more than the audible.  Making faces, using hand gestures and contorting my arms and legs to communicate has become the preferred “language” of people today.  If I don’t learn to “speak” the new language, I will find myself, well, like “yuk!” 

My dilemma is this:  How can I, as a preacher, preach without a sack full of proper terms to get my message across?  Is it possible to effectively convey the gospel to the hungry and needy unless I get all intellectual with them?  I mean, if words get in the way of my sermons, what else is there?  How can I talk about grace and faith without using the terms of grace and faith?  How in the world can I speak about God without using words like omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent?  And if I want to explore other concepts like propitiation, atonement, Godhead and homiletics, I am hopelessly lost! 

Well, of course none of us can communicate without using some words.  The trick, then, is to use words that mix as much emotion and feeling into the intellectual thought processes as we can.  Surprisingly, going to the Bible with this premise in mind is extremely fruitful.  Few groups have as much to gain from the “newspeak” as do the people who emphasize the baptism of the Spirit.  It is time for Pentecostals to take full of the advantages that have been given to us. 

Look at all the emotionally-laden terms used in the Bible:

  • Fire shut up in my bones.
  • He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.
  • Sound of a rushing, mighty wind.
  • Cloven tongues, like as of fire.
  • Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.
  • Joy unspeakable.
  • Leaping and running into the temple.
  • These are not drunken as ye suppose.
  • Speaking with other tongues.
  • They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
  • For they heard them speak with tongues.
  • Jesus wept.
  • Cried unto him with a loud voice.
  • O clap your hands all ye people!
  • Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.
  • Stir up the gift of God which is in you.
  • Groaning which cannot be uttered.
  • The Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
  • Moved with compassion.
  • The joy of the Holy Ghost.
  • Praying in the Holy Ghost.
  • Be glad also with exceeding joy.
  • With joy of the Holy Ghost.
  • Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad.  

I am convinced that the world is ravenously hungry for real power.  Formalism has gutted the belief system of Christianity from the life-changing, heart-singing, mind-blowing essence of the gospel!  We live life at street level; why must our faith be holed up in the attic?  Here’s a Tenneyism for you:  “He said his church was above emotion. A corpse is always stiff and laid back. I had rather cool down a fanatic than warm up a corpse!”  

If you haven’t been, you need to go to a oneness Pentecostal church.  There, you will find out that the Holy Ghost isn’t the third person of the trinity. You will learn that the Book of Acts is more than simply a “transitional” book (I’ve yet to come across the scripture that says so). You will observe that all the things you thought were quaint and odd manifestations of primitive Christians in the New Testament are actually alive and well in the twenty-first century.  You won’t be treated to a condescending monologue on the museum pieces of the irrelevant past.  

You’ll discover that that worship is not droned out in the warbles of a choir loft, but the glowing faces and dancing folks who act like the people who just won the football game.  Open your heart and you may just get happy enough to do something strange, like dance a jig, run the aisles, wave your arms, speak in tongues, leap in the air, spin like a top or fall to the floor.  It’s not that we are unruly, undisciplined or wild.  It’s just that we refuse to believe our God is dead, distant, unengaged or tone deaf. 

At the same time, don’t make a mistake by thinking that we have no substance.  We burrow far deeper into the Word of God than most people care to go.  Oneness Pentecostal preachers put more Word into their sermons than they do the ante-Nicene Fathers, creeds and stories.  It’s just that we refuse to believe that our faith is more like icicles than like flames of fire! 

Like I said, “I’m like, Wow!”

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