Contemplative – Holiness – Charismatic – Social Justice – Evangelical – Incarnational

We’re halfway through our exploration of these six streams of Christian faith. As we begin Lent, it occurs to me that this happens to be a perfect time to look at these traditions. That’s especially true as I consider our theme for the blog this year.

Come to me all who are weary, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11.28

At their core, each of the six streams provides a way to draw close to the Father. In the contemplative path, we are invited to respond with love toward God through prayer, solitude, and reflection. In the holiness path, we invite God’s Spirit to transform our character so that we can love like Jesus loves.

And in the charismatic path, the invitation is to experience the power of God through the gifts of the Spirit. As we experience his power, the natural result is the growth of the fruit of the spirit within us.

Love, Joy, Peace, Forbearance, Kindness,
Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, & Self-control

God doesn’t want us to be people who say, “You know, in the internal caverns of my heart, I have faith.” NO! God wants us to experience his dynamic, empowering, life-giving personal presence as we live our lives in his kingdom. The Spirit-empowered life is about visibly bearing witness to God’s reign. The evidence of God’s reign in our lives is a growing experience of love, joy, peace. It’s in this that we find the promise, “I will give you rest.”

How strange and awesome and wonderful that the power of God brings us peace!

But that doesn’t mean this charismatic tradition, this life-in-the-Spirit is calm or easy to pin down.

This tradition offers an ongoing correction to our impulse to domesticate God. Oh, how we want a nice, tidy God we can control and manage. That god doesn’t exist! As Jesus says while talking about the Spirit, “The wind blows wherever it pleases.” I love how Jack Levison defines the Holy Spirit: “God’s mystical, practical, expansive, unbridled presence in the world where we least expect it.”

God is the one in charge. He’s alive and active. The second we feel we have all this spiritual life business and God figured out, like everything is nice and neat and manageable, then watch out! God surprises us in ways we could never have imagined. How much better to move day by day in joyful surrender to the leading of the Spirit than to reduce God to a god we can manage. That god is not real!

Living in the Spirit offers gifting and empowering for witness and service. As Paul says in Galatians 5.25, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Our job is to grow in learning to follow the Spirit where he’s leading, to partner with the Holy Spirit as his kingdom is breaking into the world around us.

The charismatic tradition offers a constant challenge to our anemic practice. We so easily become satisfied with mere religious talk. And how soon we forget that the God of hope wants to “fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15.13) This Spirit-filled live constantly reminds us that “the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” (1 Corinthians 4.20)

As we begin the Lenten season, my prayer for you is this.

That you may trust in the promise of Jesus, that he will indeed give you rest
That you will ask the Father for an experience of the power of the Holy Spirit in your life, and in that experience may you be filled with the peace, the joy, and the love of God.

Matt Carder

Matt Carder

Matt Carder is the founding pastor of Commonway. A 2002 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, Matt backpacked solo to over 30 countries after graduation, before returning home to marry his college sweetheart, Liz. Commonway was birthed under his leadership in 2005 at Union Chapel, and was planted as an independent church in August of 2011. Matt graduated with a Masters of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary in 2018. He enjoys each new life adventure with his wife and two children.

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