John Wimber: Prophet of Justice
One of my heroes of the faith is John Wimber. I love how real he was and he tried to live the Kingdom of God to the best of his ability. He was not perfect and I completely disagree with how he handled the renewal at Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (now Catch the fire Toronto)
However, his realness is something you just have to love. He was as real it is gets. He always believed that the way on is by living the way in (Gospel of Jesus). You can’t help but love that the guy.
The Church, especially in North America is better because of John Wimber than we would have been without him. He was critical to getting us out of the hymnals and worshiping Jesus in a way that pleasing Him and was not a jail sentence to us at the same time.
I believe he took the renewal as far as he took and knowing the medical issues he was facing, he just let guys like John Arnott and Randy Clark tell the baton and run with it from there in his absence.
John Wimber loves Justice
One thing that impresses me about him was his love for the social justice. This is really lacking in the American Church, and especially in the renewal movement. We could use a good dose of justice. It would be to our benefit, actually.
“When we stand for social justice, we testify to the presence of the Kingdom.” –John Wimber
While the Vineyard was better known for healing and power evangelism back then, I think the issue of justice for the poor was just as important to John. It is just not what draws the masses to conferences. People want to hear about healing, not ministry to the poor.
However, you could not be more biblical to understand that in our justice, we are releasing the Kingdom of God through us.
The spiritual almost always a practical parrell and the Kingdom of God is spiritual but it has a practical application: ministry to the poor.
John Wimber marked his life with the concept that we should take a portion of our time, our treasures and our talents to give to those in need. He believed that we was to redeem people and to care for them as people, not just as lost souls.
As an Evangelist, it is easy to lose touch with the humanity of the world. We see people rushing the altars but each them have a story and many need justice to overcome their issues. They likely can’t do on their own.
He also hold that view that the poor have an impartation for us just as much as we can physically help them. They have a word, a song, and a hymnal to release unto the Bride of Christ. We need to allow them the opportunity to do so but help with through social justice.
“We will never step out of our middle class mindset and do anything for the poor until we’ve caught God’s heart for them. Our actions will change when our heart is changed.”—John Wimber
He was a prophet of Justice
At one point, he was said to have told pastors that they should live very modest lives so they could invest as much as possible into helping the less fortune. He told to live on less so they could give liberally to the Kingdom works and to social justice.
The reason I believe that he was a prophet crying out is this went against everything that most Charismatics believed at that time. This was the late 1980’s when the prosperity movement was in full operation. Living modest was a hallmark of the word of faith.
He was like a modern Jeremiah that cried with fire in his bones for the famous to Jesus to be known, not how blessed a televangelist could become. Wimber really went against the grain on so much.
In fact, he told a group of pastors once that greed and materialism was the two things was undoing healing ministries globally. He was not impressed with Italians suits and private jets. It just wasn’t the Wimber way.
“The same Lord who gives sight to the blind and creates miracles through our hands is the very One who feeds the hungry through our hands and watches over the immigrant. We must never ignore the poor & needy. We must never spend any outpouring of Gods Spirit on ourselves.”—John Wimber
Have we fallen short?
I am not here to throw stones at anyone but there is one area that I believe in our ministries, we have become anti-poor: Conference ministry! I have watch this get out of control. Meetings that use to be free or very cheap (only to pay the travel for speakers) are starting to get into the $100 mark.
If a person is struggling to put food on the table but has the time to go to a meeting; we should not tell them to make a choice between dinner and impartation. I find this to be problematic for us and it is not the heart of Jesus.
I get that conferences are pricy and they cost a lot to put on. I have done them, I know that. However, we have to be more mindful of those who are hungry but can’t afford to pay the money to come. It really does happen.
I am not sure I have the answer on how to address this issue and if there is a good way to even address it. It could be a serious challenge to do something in either direction.
However, we can’t exclude the poor from receiving just because they can’t pay a day wages to attend the conference. I do know that.