Pentecostal Spirituality: The Power to Practice (Not Just Believe)

By Elizabeth D. Rios, EdD, DMin (ABD)

I started this article a week ago, but felt something was missing. Today, I found it. I think it was holy indignation!

What sparked this holy anger?

Hearing a well-known, popular, nationally recognized Pentecostal preacher share (on an Instagram clip) on his pulpit that he hates politics. How he doesn’t give a rip about it. How he doesn’t care who is in charge.

He then goes on to say, “You know how we find our help, through Jesus Christ, the savior of the world, the power of the holy ghost. You get involved in that mess, you get involved in offenses. ‘That offends me, well I can’t believe…’ Who gives a rip what they say? I want to know what God says. I’ve lived long enough to be in a place where I am asking the question, is it going to be politics or Pentecost?”

To which you hear the congregation break out into applause. Although it wasn’t overwhelming applause there were still people who actually thought this was responsible preaching. Albeit, he’s been a pastor for decades (and I actually like and know him) but I had to hear it over a few times because I was sad and yes, mad over it.

We Pentecostals love a good devil stompin’ service, some love the break out in tongues and although I am fairly suspect of it, others are all in for the rolling on the floor “spirit-filled services” that many people know us for.

But I am afraid some folks stop at that and the rhetoric of the power of the Spirit but have no legs, hands or brains in the practice of spirituality behind that power they claim a hold of. Pentecostal Spirituality that is lived out is one that is actually practiced not just believed.

Some Pentecostals are very committed to “being spiritual” but are still confused about Spirituality. Christian spirituality, in general, has its center of gravity in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Cecil M. Robeck, Jr. has written, “True spirituality involved the giving of our very selves to the One we worship and adore (Romans 12:J:2).”1

Therefore, spirituality is the giving of ourselves to God through both our beliefs and emotional attitudes, and here is the key folks, which ultimately influences our actions and values.  Put another way, Pentecostal Spirituality as defined by Steven Jack Land is “the integration of beliefs and practices in the affections which are themselves evoked and expressed by those beliefs and practices.”2

What the world is seeing in today’s America are some people who confess with their tongue Jesus as savior and soon coming King yet practice an entirely different way of life. And even worse, declare from their pulpits that they don’t care about the things Jesus himself cared for as evidenced by his own life as read in scripture. Jesus did care about what was happening to people because of the government. He did give a rip about politics. And it was never an either/or question for Jesus “politics or Pentecost?” Because of the power of the Spirit he turned politics upside its head. Shouldn’t today’s Christians be about the same?

A key distinctive of Pentecostalism is the reliance and belief in the power of the Holy Spirit. Those of us who consider ourselves part of this tribe believe we are driven by the power of God moving within us. We also believe that the gifts of the Spirit such as speaking in tongues, prophecy and healing are still active in today’s world albeit abused and misused by some.

However, I wonder why we can believe all this and not rely on this very power to help us to practice every day justice in today’s political climate?  Can we be Kingdom people working on behalf of the Kingdom of God and not believe that the power of the Spirit can help us shape the moral and social consciousness of our world and use us as the instruments of this social change? It is not good enough to know what to do. We need to become what we believe in that way we consistently practice what we preach.

When we speak of the “Kingdom of God,” we speak of God’s ultimate will for the whole of creation. The symbol of the Kingdom conveys not only what we hope for but also a sense of urgency about our present responsibilities in this “already-not yet” world to be about the work of justice and the ministry of shalom-making between individuals, social classes, and racial and ethnic groups.

Although short lived, it was the power of the Spirit that helped people forget the color line at Azusa Street. It was the power of the Spirit that brought together the ministries of white evangelist G. B. Cashwell and black Pentecostal  Bishop C. H. Mason. It was the power of the Spirit that made Azusa street another ‘upper room’.

Pentecostal Spirituality has a passion for the kingdom of God which ultimately is a passion for the things God, Son and Spirit cared about. We need to be Pentecostals that give a rip about politics.

Let us once again believe enough in the power of the Spirit to change the world around us. Let’s be those Pentecostals that practice not just believe. Because as St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage once said, “We do not preach great things; we live them.”

[1] Cecil M. Robeck , Jr. "The Nature of Pentecostal Spirituality," Pneuma 14:2 (Fall 1992) , pp. 103-106 (103).

[2] Steven Jack Land, Pentecostal Spirituality: A Passion for the Kingdom (Cleveland, TN: CPT Press, 2010).

ska%cc%88rmavbild-2017-01-06-kl-21-17-02Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please become a member!

One thought on “Pentecostal Spirituality: The Power to Practice (Not Just Believe)”

  1. Pentecostal Spirituality has a passion for the kingdom of God which ultimately is a passion for the things God, Son and Spirit cared about. We need to be Pentecostals that give a rip about politics.
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