It happens so often in charismatic circles. I listen to sermons – I don’t simply absorb them, but I listen for what is really being said, and to the best of my ability I check all of it against the Scripture in my head, and I open the Word directly and check things that sound questionable, yet attempt to still rejoice in what is true. In the process of trying to filter sermons for ‘truth’, and trying to stand for the truth, I am called “mean”, “heartless”, “too heady”, and have even been told that I am somehow “quenching the Spirit”, and I won’t lie – sometimes it hurts.
In the flesh, it hurts my own pride – which is sad, I admit. Yes, I am prideful – aren’t you? I like being ‘right’, but that doesn’t mean I’m not open to correction…by Scripture. As a former campus minister, and as someone who still find himself in various areas of ministry leadership, I sometimes get asked questions – hard questions. I see it as part of my calling to help guide people to God’s answer to those questions, which means I don’t only read the Word to get ‘personal words from the Lord’, but I go to it to find what is God’s mind – to the best of my human ability – towards certain issues. I’ve heard too much junk from man – I’ve believed too much junk taught by men: I want to know God’s thoughts. That has led me to be a critical thinker. I hate lies, subtle or overt. I don’t (usually) hate the people from whom they are coming (often they don’t know they speak untruth), but so many people grow disillusioned with God and lose faith not because God has somehow failed them or been shown untrue, but because – in little ways – they believed in a false god, or at least so many falsities about God, that it led to the same end. And when we believe in a god of our imaginations, instead of the God of revelation, in spite of how spiritual we may look on the surface, our lives will eventually take us the clear route of open idolatry. That sure explains the ‘New Age’ edge that much of what calls itself ‘Charismatic’ carries with it.
In my spirit, however, that is what hurts me deepest: to see genuine, sincere people – some who may really be Christians – engage in idolatry, trusting in a false god, instead of the God revealed in Scripture. It saddens me because I’ve seen the disappointment that ultimately leads to – I’ve seen them lose faith altogether when their tiny ‘image’ of god refuses to follow the ‘rules’ they’ve set up for him (which is nothing short of ‘magic’ – thinking ‘if I do x, my god must to y in response’).
So, go ahead and tell me I’m too often ‘in my head’, or that I’m ‘quenching the Spirit’. Though it will hurt my pride, what will ache most is for the Church to return to her first love: the one true God revealed in Jesus, empowering His people through the Spirit. My heart aches to see Spirit-filled believers turn from their idols – turn from their ‘magic’ – turn from the god of their imagination, and see the Biblical God as He really is: to meet the real Jesus.
Send Your Spirit, Lord – restore Your truth to Your church, and we would walk in it. Till then, I will continue to ache, and to do all within my power to be faithful to Your Word.
So be it.