Dignify and Deploy 31: Personalizing Pentecost
‘The true self isn’t found when we are looking for it; it’s found when we are looking for Him.’ C.S. Lewis
The dream disturbed me at first: two male torsos emerging out of a tree trunk, like thick branches. I saw the face of my dad in one, then mine in the other. Holy Spirit whispered as I lay awake pondering: ‘You have made peace with your father.’ Thank You Jesus; a couple years of painful therapy was working…
My most profound experience of Pentecost was ‘signs and wonders’ of a different sort. Though I loved physical healing and deliverance, my restoration involved the Spirit of wisdom and revelation (Eph. 2:17) guiding a season of integration. Homosexual lust signified a profoundly divided soul: ‘Come Holy Spirit, cleanse and unite this man in his innermost parts!’
John Wimber loved this, even though he would count on Leanne Payne or Kenn Gulliksen or myself to lead out here. Inner healing mattered. No less the work of the Holy Spirit, it involved our modern understanding of the damaged heart, its habits, and how the Spirit reveals and heals unseen wounds. Wimber knew that the woman with ‘the issue of blood’ bled emotionally as well.
This lines up beautifully with Karol Wojtyla’s efforts to unite objective truth with personalism, the 20th century demand of living truth, experiencing it in our depths—it is ‘the philosophical commitment to the personal, the experiential, and the psychological.’ Christopher West highlights John Paul’s distinction in TOB between the ethic of Christian morality—no adultery, say—and the ethos of restoration—motives, affliction, contrition, and the experience of mercy that heals us.
Pervading Wojtyla’s ‘personalism’ is profound Christian spirituality. He urges us to cultivate a faith in Jesus that can transform us at core. Only in Jesus, said John Paul, can we discover what is most real and true about who I am as man, you as woman. To the person settling on LGBTQ+ liberties, he would challenge: ‘You haven’t allowed Jesus to take you down to your most authentic foundations. When you do, He will raise you up on them!’
Wojtyla’s personalism acknowledges the uniqueness of each person without giving anyone the freedom to toy with foundational truths. It just acknowledges the different obstacles each person faces in getting there. I love this comment by a highly intellectual (and decidedly annoyed by our ‘charismania’) churchman who said: ‘I understand now why you take time to listen and pray for each one. Only Jesus knows the wound and only Jesus can heal it. You take time for that. Without personalizing, we just impose principles that become a weight on people.’ He didn’t like us, but he liked what we did.
Jesus keeps us free for the leading of His Spirit in personalizing truth. We each need a Pentecost in which the ‘Spirit searches out all things’ (1 Cor. 2:10-12), including our wounded depths. He sheds light, not to shame but to sanctify.
‘Nothing in creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account’ (Heb. 4:13).
“Thank You God for churchmen and women who gave us space to be ourselves. That helps us discover what is damaged in us, most in need of Your saving love. Thank You for never losing sight of our truest self and helping us to get there. What a ride. We can do it with You and our Christian family. Come Holy Spirit, liberate what is true and beautiful from what debases us. May we not settle but aspire to the dignity of our sexual humanity. May we grow into ‘mature expressions of the gift’ by helping others do the same. Deployed to dignify, we ‘harness the John force.’”