Chris Jefferies lives in the UK. He trained as a biologist but ended up working in IT. His blog can be found here.
When we were in the UK recently, we had long conversations with Chris about what it would take to see the power and presence of Christ that we knew back in the Charismatic Movement of the 70s and 80s within the current simple/organic church structure today.
During the 1970s we met house to house with a group of around twenty friends. We met because we all knew there was much more to following Jesus than we were experiencing in our denominations. There was also a strong sense that denominational divisions were wrong, though we failed to notice that we might be starting yet another one ourselves.
We would pray and sing, praising and worshipping the Father and the Son, feeling the presence of Jesus amongst us, and reading the Bible with renewed minds and hearts. We expected his Spirit to sweep through releasing us in the use of tongues, interpretation, prophecy, visions and more. They were rich times of abundant blessing; we knew that if we listened and obeyed we would stay on track.
But our focus gradually shifted. Some were drawn into a new home church and others to various larger new ventures further afield. Judy and I wanted to carry on as before – one big happy family of Jesus followers. But soon we were left pretty much isolated and alone. I tried hard to stay in touch with the things others were doing but it wasn't the same. I felt I could only take a peripheral and occasional part while Judy really wanted no part of it at all.
But we were not alone; I suspect we all wanted to move forward together. Perhaps we all felt we were doing the right thing and just wished the rest would come with us. Our focus shifted and we began following teachings about Jesus instead of following the Teacher himself. We fell into a trap. Good teachers have an enormous responsibility to teach wisely (James 3:1).
Others across the nation were also being pulled this way and that, resulting in many new 'streams' of church life. In some ways these groups have done well and have been mightily used; our Father is patient and full of grace. But we are further than ever from the goal of one body, one church. There are more divisions now than ever before!
Stephen Covey once said, 'The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.' And for us the main thing is listening to the Spirit of Christ and obeying him in everything. The moment we put more store in what is being taught than we do in the Teacher (Jesus), we are undone.
There's a simple lesson for us in all of this. Don't follow the teaching about Jesus, follow the Teacher who is Jesus! Zealously following the teaching has a feeling of holiness about it but the Son himself is the only one worth following; only he is life and light. He is our bread, our wine, and the very air we breathe. So cling to him and let go of everything else.
Combining today's revelation about organic church and Kingdom principles while recovering a rich outpouring of spiritual glory and power would be a potent combination. We need to be both the church in the world and the church in heaven. We are the body of Christ, his bride. The relationship between us is one of pure love. He has given us everything he has. Will we use it all as we walk arm in arm with him?
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3 replies on “Guest post by Chris Jefferies: presence and power”
Thanks, that was a most interesting reflection. I think there may be other conclusions we can draw too. It seems to me, as one who was on the fringe, that the charismatic renewal in the 60s and 70s was God’s way of re-energising his people, but it was never meant to stay the way it started. We have a job to do, serving others, sharing Jesus, making disciples, changing the world. So it had to change and grow.
Another thought. Some people (I am one of them) don’t seem to respond in worship, don’t seem to manifest the more obvious supernatural gifts, don’t naturally hear from God, etc, even though we believe in all those things. We express our love of God in other ways, by serving, etc. Both are important, but sometimes we look down on those different to us, or at least don’t understand or value the other types of people, and so the ‘charismatics’ tended to end up in new non-denominational ‘denominations’, while the ‘activists’ tended to get cynical, join or start activist organisations or sit in denominational churches and do what they could.
We need the full set of gifts and character types in our churches.
Nice blog. Thank you Chris!
In the few dozen housechurches I relate to
we are experiencing the teacher who is Jesus.
Because HIS Spirit is flowing we are growing
up into Him. As we thank and Bless Him He blesses us in return.
You can see my blog @ http://notesfromthebridge.wordpress.com
Love, Christopher “Captain” Kirk
Thank you both for your comments. I’d like to encourage you ‘unkleE’ that though you may not seem to respond, manifest, or hear – you are almost certainly much closer to doing so than you realise.
I pray that you will surprised and blessed by Papa at a time and in a way of his choosing. Meanwhile Father, please draw ‘uncleE’ into an ever deepening awareness of your love and presence.
And Captain Kirk, experiencing the Teacher sounds good. He loves you too as he does all his children. I think he has one word for you – ‘peace’. Peace for today and throughout the rest of the voyage.