“A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.” – 1 Corinthians 12:7
Has anyone ever referred to you as a charismatic person before? Oxford Dictionary defines “charismatic” as “exercising a compelling charm which inspires devotion in others.”
I had a friend growing up who was somewhat charismatic in that he had the ability to get people to follow him, do what he said, etc. It wasn’t always with charm that he compelled others to do his bidding, mind you. Sometimes it was bullying and coercion that did the trick. Whatever the case, my friend did have people eating out of his hand back then.
It’s a curious thing to compare this idea of charismatic with the religious use of the term. From the Greek word “charis” (grace, mercy) comes the word “charisma” (divine or spiritual gifts). But the connection between the biblical word and the historical church movement is another matter altogether.
In the 1960’s, some local churches from many mainline Protestant denominations experienced a change in their worship culture. They began practicing spiritual gifts such as tongues, prophecy, healings, miracles, etc. This became known as the Charismatic Movement. By 1970, a number of independent nondenominational churches also began to place a strong emphasis on the use of spiritual gifts as a part of Christian growth. They became categorized as neo-charismatics.
Soon, a divide formed within Christianity. The Pentecostals, Charismatics and others identified as continuationists (people who believed that all the spiritual gifts mentioned in the Bible were still active and in use today) stood one side of a growing debate. Their opponents (called cessationists) believed that the more miraculous or supernatural types of spiritual gifts (tongues, healings, etc.) went away somewhere between when the apostles died and the formation of the biblical canon.
The lines drawn in the sand fifty years ago have been blurred significantly since the rise of the charismatic movement. Some non-charismatics believe that the Holy Spirit can and does give all the spiritual gifts found in Scripture, although they do not identify with the modern-day charismatic movement in regard to their own worship practice.
I tell you all of this to make a point. I fully admit that what I am about to say is me stirring the ecclesial pot. Many of my non-charismatic friends and colleagues might bristle or outright disagree with what I am about to say. But I can remain silent no longer.
If we set aside our current understanding of what it means to be a charismatic and look strictly at the use of the phrase “spiritual gift” in the verse above, I am certain we can all recognize that all Christians are given spiritual gifts by the indwelling Holy Spirit. He lives inside you and guides you, encourages you, equips you for service, and teaches you. He is a gift giver. It is doubtful that there are any true Christians out there today who do not believe this.
That means that every Christian is a charismatic.
If you have the Spirit dwelling within you, then you have been given spiritual gifts. Whether you are using them or not is another matter, but it does not change the truth that you have received talents and abilities for the purpose of blessing and edifying other people. Love is a spiritual gift. Faith is a spiritual gift. Teaching is a spiritual gift. Leadership is a spiritual gift. To use them is to be charismatic.
So, all you wonderful people who belong to an older denomination who have endured the scorn and ridicule of others for being a part of an old, dead, tired, boring church can now take heart! You have just been upgraded to holy roller! You have a Spirit inside you filling you with talents and abilities to shake this world up. You are a wild warrior for God!
No, I am not saying that you all need to be swinging from the chandeliers on a Sunday morning. All sorts of warnings and rules for orderly worship still apply (see 1 Corinthians chapter 14 for details). But even in our many differences in worship practice, surely we can see that the gift-giving Spirit has a little something in that bag of goodies for everybody.
Some have said that peace is the most elusive treasure in all the world. It's so hard to find. Some believe it's an illusion. Others feel it is temporary and beyond our control. But the words of God paint a different picture about finding true peace.