Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I Can't Keep Calm -- I'm Pentecostal!

 A dear friend that I have tremendous respect and admiration for recently posted something on Facebook that struck a nerve and I can't help but vent a little bit at my keyboard. I find that to be safer than flying off half-cocked and responding in the wrong way.

His post said this, "I can't keep calm -- I'm Pentecostal!"

I, of course, know what he was attempting to convey. He's excited because the Holy Spirit has empowered him to proclaim God's Word to whosoever will listen and he can't keep it quiet because it would be like trying to "Keep fire shut up in one's bones!" If you knew my friend you would also know that he has a passion for all things in life. People that know me casually would not expect me to enjoy hanging around a guy like him, but I come away energized each time that I am around him. I love his passion and find it contagious. I also cherish the way that he challenges me and makes me think.

So I find myself banging away at my keyboard right now, not in response to him, but in response to the majority of people claiming to be Pentecostal that read a comment like "I can't keep calm -- I'm Pentecostal!" and come away nodding their heads and say, "That's right, these people that don't jump up and down and call themselves Pentecostal need to get with the program!"

I have grown weary of people judging one's commitment to Pentecostal theology based on how they respond physically to external stimuli generated from platform personnel at worship events. When I look at Pentecostal leaders like George Wood, Jim Bradford and Charles Crank, I observe men of God that seem quite "calm" during worship events. I think that their "Pentecostal Creds" are quite legit! Thankfully, I am certain that my friend does as well. Yet, I have participated in many worship events with Pentecostal brothers and sisters in which someone from the platform will rebuke those in the audience that aren't responding with the physical response that the leader deems appropriate. I have seen people rebuked for not jumping, dancing, shouting, or clapping with the same exuberance as the leader. Over and over again I have heard their Pentecostal credentials be questioned. Quite frankly, I'm tired of it.

Should we dance, shout, clap, and raise our hands in worship? Absolutely! But, that has nothing to do with Pentecost. Long before Pentecost or even the birth, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ the followers of YHWH were told that such physical manifestations were not only appropriate, but desirable in the worship experience. So Pentecost has nothing to do with it. We should be excited in worship because we're Christians, not merely because we are Pentecostal!

Admittedly, I'm not much of a dancer. It's never been a part of my cultural upbringing. After all, I think there is a "Position Paper" against dancing somewhere in the archives of my denomination. Oops, I mean "fellowship." And, I have to think that the Holy Spirit is a much better dance instructor than what I have seen Him be given credit for in worship services. So, I readily admit that I don't move my feet very much in worship, but I do shout praise unto the Lord, lift and clap my hands, look unto heaven from whence cometh my help, weep, and smile from ear to ear. I don't do these things because someone from the platform tells me to, however. Instead, I do them as an automatic response to what the Spirit of God is doing within me at the moment. Sometimes while others are shouting, I need to weep; or while they are laughing, I need to fall on my face and repent. At other times, I just need "to be still and know that He is God."

Being Pentecostal is not about how we worship among believers. Being Pentecostal is about the empowerment of the Spirit to testify of Christ outside of the walls of the Church. Pentecostal people are a missionary people! They cannot rest until the whole world knows! They can't remain silent while nearly everyone around them marches into an eternity without Christ! Their message is not "Watch me and worship like I do." Their message is "Listen to me! The Spirit has something to say!"

Sorry for the rant. "I can't keep calm -- I'm Pentecostal!"