Friday, January 21, 2022

Pentecostal Fire

We started the week bouncing off a passage in Luke when the people of Israel knew that Zechariah was taking too long to offer the incense; even back then, the people knew when church was running late. And we've talked about how difficult it is for us to consider that perhaps God has shown up, and then what our church services might look like if He were actually in charge of them. 

And all of this is really weird and at the same time, not so much, when you look at what is happening with our worship music right now. 

We have placed a renewed emphasis in a significant portion of our worship music on the Holy Spirit. We have begged Him to come. We have recounted His deeds. We sing about dry bones rattling and "Pentecostal fire." We have a whole host of songs these days that sing about the glory of God actually showing up, about His presence among us, about the Holy Spirit being with us and yet...we still don't actually expect it to happen. 

What's more - we so much don't expect it to happen that there has even been a bit of a war within Christianity on some of these songs themselves. Several of the worship songs that have grown massively in popularity in the past year or two have come from a particular worship group, and there have been movements online - vocal movements - suggesting that we not even sing their music, no matter how captivating it is, because we do not agree with their teachings on, among other things, the Holy Spirit. 

Because we don't agree with the "Pentecostal fire." 

Think about that for a second. We fall in love with a worship song because of the power, glory, and presence of God and the Holy Spirit declared within and it ignites in us something that we haven't felt in a long time, something that makes us raise our hands and shout, "Yes, Lord!" and yearn in our hearts for the words of that song to be true. 

And in the very same breath, we condemn the song because we don't want to look like we're affirming the teachings behind it, the very teachings that made the song possible in the first place. Our hearts want to believe it, but their hearts actually believe it, and somehow, that's a problem for us. 

So, in many cases, we just stop singing the music. 

We have to confess that we feel this dissonance in our souls. This tension between what our hearts long for and the "proper doctrine" we've been taught, and continue being taught (in many cases), in our churches. Where we're supposed to believe in the power, glory, and presence of God...but not really. We're not supposed to believe too much. We're not supposed to actually believe these things are possible. 

If we did, we might set the world on fire...but burn our churches down. 

This is why we have so much trouble with faith. We have so removed these ideas from our church culture that they have become taboo and most of us worship now in churches where we are supposed to affirm merely the idea of God and certain fundamental concepts about Him, but not metaphysical realities. Not the kinds of things that might actually change our lives. Not the kinds of things that all of our intellectual knowledge about Him sparks our hearts to want to desire. 

We are somehow supposed to know that God is present in our churches without ever actually expecting Him to show up. Or talking like He has. 

We are a strange people, indeed. 

So after all that, I leave you with this: imagine what it would look like if God was in your church. Rather, if God was in His house when you came to worship in it. Imagine what your faith would look like if you honestly, earnestly expected that.  

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