Monday, March 25, 2013
When I graduated from ORU, I was seven years along in my faith journey. I had been taught that experiences—healings, tongues, supernatural gifts of money—were the norm. And if I was not experiencing these things in my life, then I was not a “Spirit-filled Christian.” I would be considered second-class, at very best. So I wore a mask, not exactly lying, but at least giving the appearance that all the mighty works that others supposedly did and saw were common in my life as well.
So I went through decades of my Christian life wearing a mask. I said and did all the acceptable things, and pretended that I knew God and was being used by him to do “great and mighty things.” And after you wear a mask for some time, you begin to believe that it really is how you look.
Then, apparently, the real God had enough of my impersonating a true son of his. He began tearing off my mask one painful layer at a time. All those experiences I thought I had and said I lived through dissolved. I found myself naked—and ashamed—before God. Thinking I knew it all, I was very surprised to find out I was clueless about everything.
God then took me in front of a mirror so I could see who I really was. What I found was surprising to me. I was a mystic. That’s how I could see God. That’s how I first met Jesus. Not by witnessing a miracle nor hearing a rousing, emotional sermon nor by being slain in the Spirit. I met Jesus by sensing a deep longing, an intense hunger in my soul. I couldn’t put it into words. One minute it wasn’t there, the next it was.It is going to sound very cold, but that is a story I have heard over and over and over again. I know far too many "recovering" charismatics.
Way too many of "the gifts" express themselves in charismatic contexts. Ask yourself this question, "If a gift from God is real, why would it need a context to be used?" Is God constrained by such things? Now don't get me wrong here, I believe these miracles can and do happen, but I do not believe they can be coaxed, prodded or controlled.
Which leads me to my second point. The gifts of the Spirit are for the good of the whole - scripture makes that plain. To my mind that makes them a burden. If your "gift" is a "blessing to you," then I think you might want to think things through very carefully. One must remember that some men actually vandalized house to get to Christ for healing. That is a pretty big burden for Christ to bear. Iy is also the gift bursting out of the context.
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