Two verses in the New Testament have amazed and confused me at the same time. The verses are found in the book of Luke chapter 15 verses 1 and 2. It says: “A lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently to his teachings. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!”

The amazing fact is that Jesus attracted so many different types of people to Himself. They came from every walk of life and enjoyed hanging out with Him. They didn't necessarily agree with Him on the issues, believe in His teaching or follow His instructions but for some strange reason, they liked HIM!

What was it about Jesus that attracted so many people? Was it His persona? His personality? His style? Some have suggested He was ruggedly handsome but Isaiah the prophet tells us there was nothing beautiful or majestic about His appearance, nothing to attract us to Him. My answer to the question can be summed up in one word: ‘CHARISMA’ but not the kind you may be thinking about right now.

The Charismatic person of today often looks appealing on the outside but lacks substance on the inside.

The New Testament word ‘Charisma' is connected to God's gifts and is founded upon the word ‘Charis' which is translated in our English language as God's Grace. Charisma, therefore, is God's grace and truth revealed through His gifts.

Maybe this acronym for the word CHARISMA can bring clarity between ‘Now’ and ‘Then.’

  • C - Compassion, care, and concern. People were drawn to Jesus because He really cared about them. People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. That cliché may be old but it's true! Charismatic people, today might be charming but all too often they only care about themselves.
  • H - Hope. A lot of charismatic people currently give people tons of hype and empty promises but the message of Christ was filled with genuine help and hope.
  • A - Acceptance. Jesus came not to judge but to save people.
  • R - Real! Jesus didn’t speak with religious rhetoric or verbiage but acted with real power to deal with real problems. He was committed to doing the work and didn’t stop with mere words.
  • I - Insightful. He dealt with the root problems of mankind and focused on the heart. He changed people from the inside out.
  • S - Simply. He speaks in terms we can understand.
  • M - Meekness. Humility is His trademark.
  • A - Action. There is no dichotomy between what He said and what He did.

Jesus didn’t influence people because He was charming, knew how to work the crowd, made promises that sounded good or displayed uncanny ability to con people. He influenced people because He was full of grace and truth. This is Godly Charisma.

The confusing fact about this narrative in scripture is the reaction of the religious leaders. They didn’t get it! Jesus came to help people in need, not hang around people who considered themselves self-righteous because they practiced their religion.

Be very cautious of following someone who appears to be charismatic but doesn’t have character. It won’t end well!

Pastor Tim Howard is the lead pastor at Koinonia Christian Fellowship. Any comments can be sent to: tim@kcfchurch.org.

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