Speaking Jesus with Charity (1)
“I just want to speak the name of Jesus Over every heart and every mind Cause I know there is peace within your presence I speak Jesus I just want to speak the name of Jesus Till every dark addiction starts to break Declaring there is hope and there is freedom I speak Jesus” (Charity Gayle.com).
Charity Gayle is on the top of my worship music playlist. The third-generation Apostolic Pentecostal has a unique spiritual gift. She captures the ethos, the heartfelt sentiment of the Apostolic faith in song. Her lyrics resonate in our hearts as they reflect our love and experience of Jesus and the truth we proclaim. Jesus is our theology! We speak Jesus!
But there is more. Listening to Charity’s portfolio, you recognize she connects the Apostolic heritage of faith, the past, with the present. Thank You, Jesus, for the Blood concludes with Glory to His Name (1878). Cleansed incorporates Nothing But The Blood (1876). The classic Pentecostal hymn A New Name in Glory (1910) receives new lyrics to convey the same message in Charity’s New Name Written Down in Glory. Hymns over 100 years old inspire Charity to speak Jesus in the 21st century with new melodies, new words, but with the same message, Jesus is Lord and brings salvation! Theologians call this recontextualization, presenting the Gospel of Jesus, the truth of the Christian faith, in the contemporary historical context.
Let’s translate the language of theologians, recontextualization, into the language of Apostolic Pentecostals. Inspired by the Holy Spirit and guided by the Holy Scriptures, Apostolic Pentecostals witness to the presence, power, and reality of their life and salvation in Jesus Christ in sermon and song, prayer and praise, teaching and testimony within the context of their life situation, within human history. They are not ahistorical beings! That means the Apostolic heritage of faith receives unique expressions as Apostolics continue the ministry of Jesus, proclaim the Gospel, and live for Him in the contemporary world.
Charity Gayle is an excellent example of recontextualization. Let me give another practical example. I am sure numerous Pastors are reading this article. Every time you prepare a new sermon, you engage in a creative process of recontextualization. I hate that word! Let’s say you testify to the reality of the risen savior in the world and provide a fresh Word from God for your congregation that reveals His will.
I certainly hope that during the racial tensions last summer, God reminded you of Paul’s admonition to the Galatians (3:26-29): “for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.” In one pregnant passage, Paul reminds the Galatians that God in Christ destroyed the racial divisions that once divided humanity and now unites them through faith in the risen and present Lord. Although written by Paul in Macedonia between 56-57 AD, the Holy Spirit uses Paul’s words, now recognized as authoritative Scripture, to speak to American 21st-century Christians through anointed Pastors who make a practical application of God’s eternal truth in the contemporary context. There are no racial divisions in the body of Christ. We are all one in Christ! There is “newness in the old!”
The biblical narrative, the story of God, is the story of God interrupting human history and traditions and providing a “new Word” that recontextualizes His will for humanity. As Apostolics, we should be very comfortable with the concept of God interrupting the “worlds” humans have created. We continually seek an interruption of the Holy Spirit when we gather for worship. We rejoice when God “interrupts” our well-made plans for Sunday morning service and guides us in new directions to fulfill the current needs of His people as they live as historical beings in the present world.
This past Sunday, August 29, 2021, I watched a dramatic interruption of the Spirit in the First Apostolic Church in Nashville on YouTube. Pastor Shoulders welcomed the eruption that “eclipsed” his sermon and encouraged the congregation to worship God and receive what He had for them on that day. God interrupts human history and traditions with new words and deeds! If you are trembling at all of this talk of newness, please be patient. As this series of articles unfolds, you will find firm boundaries of “newness” set by the revelation of God in Jesus and the canon of Holy Scripture as we speak Jesus to children of the Enlightenment!
We speak Jesus:
“Cause your name is power Your name is healing Your name is life Break every stronghold Shine through the shadows Burn like a fire” (Charity Gayle.com).