I don’t do it often, but I was reading King Jim’s version of the Bible and read Psalm 78:11: “They…limited the Holy One of Israel” (Psalm 78:41). The word used here comes from two root words, meaning, “grieving God by scratching out an imprint.” A more literal rendering would be, “Repeatedly they challenged God and pained the Holy One of Isra’el.”
In short, limiting God means drawing a line, or making a circle, and stating, “God is in here, and he goes no further.” This describes the thinking of many believers. We’ve marked in our minds a very small imprint, or concept, of Christ’s magnitude.
That’s just what the early church in Jerusalem did. They limited Christ to a small circle, confining him to the Jewish population. But Jesus can’t be confined. He is constantly breaking out of the borders we keep putting around him. We build our little, confining circles, and he refuses always reaching out to the uttermost.
Let me give an example. Up to about 40 years ago, Pentecostals seemed to have the baptism of the Holy Spirit confined to their movement. Many Pentecostals thought, “We are God’s Spirit-filled church!” Pentecostal preachers complained about the deadness of mainline denominations, “They don’t have the full gospel like we do,” they declared. Suddenly, God’s Spirit burst through everyone’s drawn circles. The Holy Ghost fell on believers in all kinds of denominations. For me, I was introduced to the Penecostal/Charismatic churches back in 1979.
A book that has now become a classic was written about this move of the Spirit, called They Speak With Other Tongues by John L. Sherrill. Another good book for me was, The Cross and the Switchblade, by David Wilkerson. I’m told that book worked well especially in Catholic circles. I chuckle about a comment that Wilkerson made about those days. He said that like Peter and the early church, he had to allow God to work in his heart before he could accept what was going on. when I moved to Ann Arbor in 1985, it took me a little bit to adjust to see Catholic priests weeping with conviction, speaking in tongues and crying out to Jesus.
Interestingly, Wilkerson had all kinds of evangelical preachers contending with him, demanding, “What about those Catholics’ Maryology? How can you minister to people who believe in that?” He found himself answering the same way Peter did: “I don’t know anything about Maryology. All I know is, there are hungry people in the Catholic Church. And there are true Jesus worshippers among the priests. God is filling these people with his Spirit.”
I’ll be honest, it was a shock to me to discover that God has his people everywhere. In every nation and in every Denomination. And, we aren’t to call any of them common or unclean. We have to be careful that we don’t represent Jesus as being small and box him in with our puny thinking. Do you have a problem with that? Good, go talk to him about it . . .
Father, I don’t have the all the answers and I confess that I sometimes box you in. Increase my view and understanding of your Church. Let me find brothers and sisters in areas I haven’t seen them before. My greatest desire is see you Glorified in your Church and in your World.
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