“They…limited the Holy One of Israel” (Psalm 78:41). The word for limited here comes from two root words, meaning, “grieving God by scratching out an imprint.” In short, limiting God means drawing a line, or making a circle, and stating, “God is in here, and he goes no further.” This describes the thinking of many believers. We’ve marked in our minds a very small imprint, or concept, of Christ’s magnitude.
That’s just what the early church in Jerusalem did. They limited Christ to a small circle, confining him to the Jewish population. But Jesus can’t be confined. He is constantly breaking out of our little, confining circles, and always reaching out to the uttermost.
Let me give an example. Up to about 40 years ago, Pentecostals seemed to have the baptism of the Holy Spirit confined to their movement. Many Pentecostals thought, “We are God’s Spirit-filled church!” Pentecostal preachers bemoaned the deadness of mainline denominations, “They don’t have the full gospel like we do,” they declared.
Suddenly, God’s Spirit burst through everyone’s drawn circles. The Holy Ghost fell on believers in all kinds of denominations. A classic book was written about this move of the Spirit, called They Speak With Other Tongues by John L. Sherrill.
The Lord also used my book, The Cross and the Switchblade, especially in Catholic circles. Yet, like Peter and the early church, I had to allow God to work in my heart before I could accept what was going on. I had been raised Pentecostal, and for the first time in my life I saw priests weeping with conviction, crying out to Jesus.
Soon I had evangelical preachers contending with me, demanding, “What about those Catholics’ Maryology? How can you minister to people who believe in that?” I found myself answering the same way Peter did: “I don’t know anything about Maryology. All I know is, there are hungry people in the Catholic Church. And there are true Jesus worshippers among the priests. God is filling these people with his Spirit.”
God has his people everywhere, and we are not to call any of them common or unclean. We have to be careful that we do not represent Jesus as being small and box him in with our puny thinking.