As the 2010s are wrapping up, I can’t help but view the past ten years as a disaster. Around the world, there has been a rise of authoritarian nationalism, unlike anything we’ve seen since the end of World War Two. A movement that not only hates migration but also romanticizes war and inequality while disregarding climate change. This is particularly true of the “Western world”, but also of countries like Brazil and Russia.
As a Charismatic Christian, Acts 2 is of course one of my favourite Bible passages. What I read about there contrasts radically with my impression of the 2010s. I read about the Holy Spirit making people able to communicate across linguistic and cultural barriers, but around me I see xenophobia and wall-building. I read about nobody being rich or poor, but around me I see global inequality growing and climate change threatening to kill hundreds of millions in developing countries. I read about people being saved every day, but around me I see millions of millennials leaving the evangelical church as it has grown tired of hypocrisy and judgmentalism.
I think about the heroes of faith who went home to the Lord this decade. Evangelist Billy Graham, who warned against marrying the evangelical faith to the political right and getting involved in partisan politics. Theologian John Stott who emphasized the importance of social justice in Christian discipleship. Missionary and healing evangelist Reinhard Bonnke, who was burning with passion for the salvation of millions of people with other skin colors and citizenships of his own.
We have inherited something beautiful from them and millions of other evangelical women and men who have gone before us. Will it all be wasted? As nationalism and partisanship grow, missionary zeal and biblical discipleship will most likely diminish. Everyone can see the difference between Jesus and Trump if they’re honest to themselves and to God.
“Evangelical” means to follow the evangelion, the Good News. Charismatic means to be filled with Spiritual gifts. We are called to follow the Sermon on the Mount – loving our enemies, helping the poor, doing to others as we would have them do to us – in the power of the Holy Spirit. If charismatic evangelicals instead choose to praise nationalism and inequality, the result will be disastrous for our movement. Not only do we fail at doing what Jesus called us to do – the younger generation, who march around the world for climate justice and peace on earth, will go elsewhere.
But there is hope. The Kingdom of God is spreading rapidly in the Majority World. There, Pentecostals and Charismatics value peace and justice to a much larger degree. Two of them even won the Nobel Peace Prize. While some “southern” Charismatics and Evangelicals are swept into partisan politics just as their “northern” counterparts, many make sure to base their Christian values in Scripture rather than in conservative rhetoric. In these nations, Acts 2 is being lived out in various ways, and loads of people are being saved as a result.
So even though the 2010s saddens me, I have hope for the 2020s. I hope for a new revival over the West, where chains to human-made ideologies will be broken and when we will passionately follow the Sermon on the Mount. The Holy Spirit has done so before, let us unite in prayer for him to do it again!
Micael Grenholm is a Swedish pastor, author and editor for PCPJ.
Pentecostals & 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!