I haven't written a thought for a while so here is something I have been thinking about.
Recently, I went to listen to a speaker who taught on what he called 'impartation' or 'the anointing'. Who doesn't want a bit of that if it's on offer? He, as far as I could work it out, had a great measure of the Holy Spirit (told via his amazing story) and he was able to impart this to us through the laying on of hands or us being in range/the realm of his anointing (Numbers 11 was the text). He was also, so I understood, able to impart the gift of healing. He talked of a baptist pastor somewhere in the States (these people are never in Droitwich) who wanted to remain anonymous and had been prayed for by him and his church has grown as a result from 300 to 3000. How cool is that. He seemed a good fellow though and I enjoyed listening to him- particularly his stories of revivalists.
However, there was much for me to ponder and a good measure charismatic hoop la followed which I have always rather enjoyed being around. The penties do joy and expressions of emotion in abundance, which the C of E is not, it must be said, often accused of over-doing. As an aside, I heard that a penty pastor I listened to last week was bought a Porsche by his church for his birthday which I must say would up my joy-o-meter a tad:) I must chat to my Bishop about my perks being a bit under-gunned.
Maybe it's because I was so bored as a child in church but the idea that God shows up on occasion and does stuff, as in Acts, has always seemed more in line with the Bible than that he doesn't. It also makes the prospect of 'going to church' frankly much more exciting if you might witness a few signs and wonders as the launch pad for the preaching of the gospel instead of a tuneless Victorian hymn badly played on the organ. I have no recollection of God doing anything out of the ordinary in the hours of BCP I sat through as a child but maybe I missed them. Some clever' o might say well look at you now ordained n'all, but to be honest I don't attribute much of my story to my experience of parish choral matins.
This is a ramble but my question is can you really 'impart' what you have of God to someone else? Of course you can teach/disciple and of course you can pray and encourage but the idea that some people are bic lighters who make a living clicking them under you and I and then selling us the book for £14.99 I am not yet totally convinced- or am I? Reading 'The anointing' by RT Kendall (a super book by the way) taught me it's not so much what you have but who you are and what you do with it that matters. Was Saul anointed? Of course he was. Was he also an egotistical pride-filled nut bag who lacked the character to carry it- answer again yes. Every tradition has it's heroes- Newman, Whitfield, Edwards, Wigglesworth, Wimber, Willard, Merton, Lloyd Jones, Nouwen, Piper and Keller. But the idea that if Tim Keller laid hands on me I could have what he has is a folly - filled notion. He is the product, as we all are, of his faithful study and diligent and prayerful walk with God over many decades. Yet my charismatic theology does allow me to believe in a gift or Spirit-filling to be passed from others and Acts suggests as much. I have been prayed for by hundreds of people down the years and a few of these occasions have been times of significant encounter.
This is not a detailed exploration of 'second blessing' theology which I am not quite sure about (despite MLJ becoming convinced in his later years which in and of itself is compelling and is laid out in 'Joy unspeakable'). I think I believe doctrinally and experientially in what a pal calls 'more' which means I am a third, fourth and fifth blessing man. Since my day with the anointed man I have been doing some reading, praying and study. I found 'A beginners guide to prophecy' by Jack Deere interesting and a help and have been reading afresh the accounts of signs and wonders in Acts. This has been made all the more real by a wondrous event that occurred recently in our morning service. If you witness a wonder whether you wanted to or not you have a theology of wonders.
The healing at the gate beautiful in Acts 4 is helpful. When Peter preaches there seem to be three factors at work that 'enabled' the wonder.
1. Being filled with the Spirit v 8
2. The name of Jesus v 10
3. Humility and ordinariness v 13
Number three is the often ignored and widely lacking factor and character trait. I would love the anointing but am not so keen on the process of being humbled which, with my heart, is most necessary and reading scripture might involve some suffering to boot. Why else would we be told to pray for perseverance?
'God repeatedly tells us how much he values humility. "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word" (Is 66:2). There are actually people that God Himself esteems. This is an amazing fact in itself, but who he esteems is even more amazing. He does not esteem the rich, the beautiful or the intelligent; He esteems the humble. David tells us this: "Though the Lord is on high, he looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar" (Ps 138:6)....Humility is the pathway to friendship with God. It is very simple: God deals with the proud at a distance, but with the humble it's up close and personal. Jonathan Edwards said the hardest sin to detect is the one that lies at the bedrock of most of our other sins is pride. If that is true, I wonder if the opposite could not be said about humility: It is the most difficult virtue to acquire. Humility is the virtue to which our flesh is most opposed, because it is the soil from which so many other virtues grow. One thing is for sure: Everyone who is famous for loving God throughout scriptural history is also exceptionally humble'
Deere, The beginners guide to the gift of prophecy, Page 72
This is where I have landed for the time being. To be 'anointed' is to be filled, reliant on Jesus and humble and to receive this is grace to you even though it may be hard and costly. All wonders are grace. If we highjack grace and 'commodify' it it surely ceases to be grace. It is in danger of becoming a grace-less ministry of works, effort and trying to get something that God bestows by grace rather than short cuts. The truth is none of us should want the anointing without character first. It will destroy us. It is given by grace alone and not by methodology or work or cleverness or whizz bangs. Grace matters. And when we lose grace we have, it seems to me, lost everything.
If you do feel moved 'of the Lord' to buy me a Porsche then do feel you can get in touch....