In September 2002, John Alley had a dream. When he woke he was compelled to seek the Lord to understand its meaning. As he sat with the Lord, he heard something he was not expecting, and that word caused many things to change.
“There is an anointing by which community is built.”
As John heard the Lord say this, he realised that if this was true, then it was apparent that whatever anointing it was, we did not have it. Nothing could have been more obvious – if we had tried persistently, as we had, to build community, but without results, and if at the same time there exists an anointing for building community, it can only mean one thing – we did not have that anointing!
Then he said “And there is another anointing by which leaders perceive community.” And John realised we didn't have that either.
John felt as if he was onto something and went in search of that anointing in the Scriptures. It didn't take long to find Pentecost all over again – and find it with new eyes. When God poured out the Holy Spirit, he poured out many anointings – in fact, in the coming of the Holy Spirit, He came with every grace and gift that are in Christ – and these are all available. With this light, John discovered from Acts 2 to 12, the community anointing was at work among the people. Much of the way the Church operated in the Acts of the Apostles could only be because of that anointing.
Now we at Peace were not without anointings. We had many anointings – for worship, for finance, for healing, for teaching, for mission, for leadership, for prayer, for pastoral care, for preaching the Gospel, and so on. But we did not have what was described to me as “the anointing by which community is built.” That one was missing, and now that John had this word from God, he knew what we had to do.
The following Sunday John preached what the Lord has said and showed the Church the things found in Acts 2-12. Then he prayed over the congregation, and with a simple prayer of faith, brought the anointing down from the throne of grace, and released it into the hearts of the believers.
There was no immediate effect to be seen – and nobody was expecting one. The service ended, everyone had coffee and went home. The next Sunday there was nothing different to see, nor the next week, nor the next.
But after 6 weeks, at the weekly leaders' fellowship at John's house, one of the pastors, Tony, came in with a story. He dropped into a lounge chair, and remarked that for many years he had tried his best in every way he knew, to get our cells to work, but no matter what he did, he could not seem to make them work. So he gave up trying. “But a very strange thing has happened,” he remarked. “About six weeks ago, all those cells started working all on their own.” The mention of six weeks caused John to sit up and take notice; He knew it had been six weeks since he had released the anointing.
Tony had said the cells “started working all on their own.” This meant grace, 'the anointing by which community is built,' was at work in the hearts of the people.
That anointing made an astounding difference in our church. Without fanfare, and without change being obvious at the time, everything did change after that anointing was released. What resulted was a quiet but completely sovereign work of the Holy Spirit which changed the hearts of our people.
Two primary things changed in our hearts. The first is that our people seemed to see each other with a different set of eyes. Of course the truth is, they saw each other with a different heart. The other wonderful change was that inter-personal striving was removed from Church life, along with selfish agendas. There was no more competition, or people trying to get their own way. Talk about a peaceful life!