Guest post by Chris Jefferies: presence and power


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?

How do you hear God in the context of a gathering?

Jesus wants to be Lord of our times together.  He is not the honored guest but the Master of Ceremonies.  If we are to follow the Holy Spirit in a gathering, it is important to know how to hear him in a group context.  How do you know what is the Holy Spirit and what is your own thoughts?

The best way we know of to do this is to participate fully in what is going on, making it your own vehicle of communication with the Lord.  Then what comes spontaneously to mind (a flow of spontaneous thoughts) is likely to be the Holy Spirit communicating with you.  So for example, if someone is giving a praise report or praising God in prayer, and a certain song comes to mind, that is likely to be the Holy Spirit.  So you suggest that the group sings it (or if you have the confidence, start the song).  Then maybe that song prompts someone else to bring a word of prophecy, or reminds them of a Scripture.  As one and another trusts the Lord and speaks out as he prompts, the Holy Spirit leads.

What doesn't work so well is to sit there thinking, "I wonder if anyone is going to say anything.  Maybe I'll lead out in prayer," or "Is there a song that would fit in with that Scripture?"  These are not spontaneous thoughts, and although the Holy Spirit can lead in that way, he is much more likely to do so as we join in fully with what the Spirit is currently doing.