Spiritual Renewal: Therapeutic or Missional

David HearnMomentumLeave a Comment

I love to run. In fact, it is often as I am running that I hear the voice of God most clearly and powerfully. I find myself captivated in praise and at times so enveloped in the presence of Jesus that I am overwhelmed with emotion. However, in these moments of intimacy with Christ, I feel a deep inner passion for the lost people around me. The Holy Spirit opens my eyes to see others in a different light. Running is actually becoming a missional calling. In Luke 10:2, Jesus sends out the seventy-two declaring, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” He instructs them, “Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near you’” (Luke 10:9). What if we embraced our spiritual renewal with a clear call to be on mission in everything we do? What if every activity is seen as a ‘sent moment’? Could the ordinary activities of our day become opportunities to declare, “The Kingdom of God has come near”?

On a recent run, I ran past a bus stop where a young man sat and I instantly felt the Spirit of God say, “Ask if you can pray for him.” My response is always the same in these moments, “Really? I don’t want to!”, but as the voice of God persists and becomes louder I eventually give in. I stopped, turned around, and introduced myself by saying, “Hi, my name is Dave. I pray when I run, and I felt God wanted me to pray for you.” He looked stunned and then said, “I used to be a Christian but not anymore!” There was a combination of hurt and anger in his eyes. Internally I prayed and asked God for a word to share. Immediately, I heard God say, “Tell him I have not forgotten him!” His name was Nate, so I looked him in the eyes and said, “Nate, God wants you to know He has not forgotten you.” His eyes got wide and began to fill with tears. In that moment, the Kingdom of God came near!

Over the past few years we have seen the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God in fresh and dynamic ways within our movement. Approximately 9,000 leaders, lay-leaders, and members from Alliance churches have engaged in one or more of the various renewal streams offered, or endorsed, by The Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada. It is changing the spiritual landscape of our movement.  Our renewed focus on repentance and surrender is leading the way, and people are being set free from shame and bondage that has held them captive for far too long.

I continue to hear testimonies of people who have experienced miraculous healing, been filled with the Holy Spirit, or who have been delivered from demonic oppression. God is doing something powerful among us. However, we must not lose sight of the ultimate goal of spiritual renewal—God Authentic spiritual renewal always results in more aggressive and effective mission. In the book of Acts, the coming of the Holy Spirit in power immediately resulted in a community of passionate and bold warriors for Christ. They “spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31). The new freedom and power God has placed within us must break out in risk-taking mission for Jesus. In other words, spiritual renewal must not turn inward and become therapeutic. It must always be focused outward and be radically missional.

Spiritual renewal that is not turned toward mission becomes therapeutic and will lose its power and fall prey to the giant of religious narcissism. Not on our watch! Spiritual renewal is God’s gift to re-fuel His Church for mission. As we are set free, filled with His presence, and embraced by His glory we must release it. Going deeper calls us to also go wider—to be so intoxicated with His presence that we overflow! May every ordinary activity in our lives become a ‘sent moment’! The world needs to know that the “Kingdom of God has come near!”

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