Something Jared said (see my quotation in yesterday's post) has me thinking. He spoke of the conflation of optimism (or an energetic "go-getter" attitude) with the filling of the Holy Spirit. I think this is a pretty important insight, especially for Christians who call themselves Charismatic. This phenomenon manifests itself in a couple of ways (at least). One is the emphasis on enthusiasm as a necessary prerequisite that allows God to move. The other is the conflation of positive thinking with faith. You know, "I'm believing God for a parking space near the entrance."
Regarding "enthusiasm": well, the simple fact is, it's easy as pie for a decent bunch of musicians to whip a willing audience into a frenzy of excitement. Actually, that's common as paint. But when the band is a "worship team" and the frenzied crowd a congregation, we call it being Spirit-filled. Okay, maybe. Maybe all we have to do, really, is shake off the dust and dance. Or maybe we're just attending a rock concert.
That's one maifestation of this "conflation." [Hmmm, new catch-phrase: conflation-manifestation] The other is the God-is-my-good-luck-charm brand of optimism, that says along with the old Mets-Phillies reliever Tug McGraw, "You gotta believe," and if you do, if you believe hard enough and well enough, God will land you that new job, find you that choice parking space, lead you to that wife/husband you'd always wanted, even cure your cancer.
That's all I have to say this morning. Except that, well, I admit that this conflation rests on the twin truths that enthusiasm is indeed a natural response to the love of God, and faith is certainly of bedrock importance in the walk of the Christian. So there is truth beneath this conflation. But somehow I get the feeling we're getting the focus skewed. What do you think?