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It's Time for Pentecostals to Embrace Peace and Justice

It's Time for Pentecostals to Embrace Peace and Justice

[PHOTO UNSPLASH:BENWHITE]

We live in a world ripped apart by rumors of wars and extreme economic inequality. Conflicts are getting deadlier, 20 percent of the global population consumes 80 percent of the world's resources and rather than combating this injustice, Western nations are securing their borders and cutting down on foreign aid.

What does the Holy Spirit think about this? What does he want us to do?

When Jesus started His ministry, He went into a synagogue and quoted from Isaiah:
"The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because he has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." (Luke 4:18-19).

During His ministry, Jesus effectively combined signs and wonders with peace and justice. As He healed everyone who came to him, he started to teach them about enemy love and loving the poor (Luke 6:17-31). He told John the Baptist that one can know that He is the Messiah by looking at His miracles and caring for the disadvantaged (Matthew 11:4-5).

As the Holy Spirit baptized the early church on the day of Pentecost, not only did they start speaking in tongues but they also eliminated the gap between rich and poor (Acts 2:43-45). The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of peace and kindness (Galatians 5:22). He does not just want to do miracles through us, but also transform societies.

Throughout church history, most movements that have experienced charismatic phenomena have emphasized the importance of social change. This is true for Waldensianism, early Anabaptism, Quakerism, etcetera. Early Pentecostalism was dominantly pacifist, as Jay Beaman and Brian Pipkin have demonstrated in several books. The Pentecostals of Azusa Street also emphasized racial equality, women leadership and an opposition to greed and economic oppression.

Today, most Pentecostals globally are engaged in local social action and fight poverty seriously, as sociologists Donald Miller and Tetsunao Yamamori have discovered. Anthropologist Dena Freeman has argued that Pentecostalism has done more for Africa's poor than many secular aid organizations.

All this goes to show that Pentecostal activism for peace and justice is not only possible - it's already what the Holy Spirit prefers to do.

In spite of this, many see miracles and social justice as opposite ends of the spectrum. Pentecostals are known for prosperity preaching and warmongering while activist Christians are thought of as being theologically liberal and skeptical of charismatic spirituality.

It's time that we return to the biblical way of charismactivism and build a strong movement of Spirit-filled Christians that are passionate to make the world a better place.

Micael Grenholm is the editor-in-chief for pcpj.org, the website for Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice. He is also the author of the forthcoming book Charismactivism.

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