When I was a kid, attending church with my mother was more of a comedy show than learning experience. Kids were expected to sit quietly and not fidget, but, how could we when the adults seemed to be making a spectacle of themselves? The Holy Spirit would “hit” some of the adults and they would start shouting (dancing in the spirit) and others would speak in tongues. My brothers and I found it gut wrenchingly funny. Meanwhile, other kids would mimic the adults; providing those of us who had to watch the show by default, a laugh so hard our stomach would hurt. I remember the old ladies sitting around us would turn and give the evil eye that said, “You had better cut it out and get quiet!” Did the Holy Spirit really fall on them, or were they acting because it was an expectation of Christians?
[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]To live a holy and spiritual life, God requires believers to follow His commands and live a life of worship to Him and Him alone.[/pullquote]It’s my belief that many people either avoid coming to Christ or backslide into their old life because of the manmade expectations placed on Christians to be and act a certain way. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that Christians can’t have fun in the name of the Lord (Exodus 15:20; 2 Samuel 6:12-16; Ecclesiastes 3:4; Psalm 14:3; 150:4; 1 Corinthians 7:1-3). Nowhere does the Bible say that you can’t drink a glass of wine here and there (Matthew 9:17; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Timothy 3:8; Titus 2:3). And nowhere in the Bible does it say that Christians are these stuffy do gooders who act holier than thou (Matthew 23; Luke 18:9-14). Self-righteous Christians look down upon anyone who they feel is beneath them and form judgments based on what they see and/or know about those who come to Christ as broken vessels. That attitude and behavior is NOT at all what God wants from His children who are members of the body of Christ.
We are all called to God’s family, however, few choose to heed the call (Matthew 22:14) because of either their own hang ups about their perception of Christianity or the Pharisees of today’s church. Deuteronomy 7:6 states, “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” To live a holy and spiritual life, God requires believers to follow His commands (Exodus 19:5-6; Leviticus 20:26; Ecclesiastes 12:13) and live a life of worship to Him and Him alone. Needless to say, to those who heed God’s call are given spiritual gifts by the Holy Spirit. These gifts are for Christians to use to fulfill the mission of the church; bringing others to Christ. The Holy Spirit gives believers different gifts (1 Corinthians 12:8-10) and one of those gifts is speaking in tongues. The Bible also says that when the Spirit fell on God’s people, they “began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:1-4; 11:15).”
So, then, returning to that memory of attending church as a kid, I now know that it is perhaps true that some of those folks were faking the funk when shouting and speaking in tongues, however, some of them were actually acting in their God given gift that the Holy Spirit divvied out. Despite the ones who choose to mock God by “acting” all self-righteous, living a holy life is all about following the model Christ gave us. He walked this earth in humility despite being God’s Son (Philippians 2:5-8). He loved people as they were (1 John 4:9-11; Romans 8:37-39). He healed the sick, downcast and brokenhearted (Matthew 8:5-17; 9:35). He raised the dead (Luke 8:49-56). He turned water to wine (John 2:1-11). And He gave His life so that our sins could be forgiven and we could have a direct connection to God (John 3:16). Holiness is a way of life, of living and breathing vs. an outward act.