Saturday, October 16, 2010

"The Lord told me"

Have you ever heard someone say, 'The Lord told me' this or that? Did it bother you? I read an article in a Christian publication recently where it really annoyed the author when someone did this. A decision was being made in some sort of church meeting when someone insisted that God had spoken to them on the matter. The author did not like it because it seemed like sort of a trump card to him. No other opinion would matter.

I certainly understand his reaction from a natural point of view. If someone says that they have the mind of God on a matter, it would seem to end all discussion.

But this situation does not bother me nearly as much as the author's reaction, which seemed entirely negative. He did not even bring up the point as to whether or not this person might be right. Maybe they did hear from God.

Now if you do not believe that God speaks to people, then it would be understandable that you would be annoyed at such a thing. (Also, if you do not believe that God speaks to people, then I gently suggest that you read the Bible more carefully. If you do, you should quickly realize that God does speak to His children.)

Another possibility is that God did not speak to this person and only thought that He did; or worse, they simply said this to impress or manipulate whoever they were talking to. In that case, it would be best to simply not accept the 'revelation' that this person had.

So we can break down this situation rather easily. Either God spoke to them or He did not. So, then, what do we call it when someone says they are speaking on God's behalf? We usually call it prophecy, do we not? How do we deal with prophecies according to the NT?

Prophecies are supposed to be judged by those who hear it. "Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test all things (prophecies). Hold fast to what is good." 1 Thess 5:20-21 "Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment." 1 Cor 14:29 (I hope that you noticed that we are not to disdain those who speak in God's name, truly or mistakenly.)

Anyone with a 'Word from the Lord' or prophecy ought to let others who have the Spirit judge their revelation. If they will not submit their purported revelation to others then they are proud and should be ignored. God will certainly reveal what He desires to those who are in authority. Now this does not mean that those in authority necessarily listen to God, but that does not mean that someone who might actually know the mind of the Lord is allowed to despise or judge or usurp authority. God is not the author of confusion. If God shows you that the leadership is going in the wrong direction then you should pray for them, not cause a ruckus.

If everyone understands this, then there should be no hard feelings when one's 'revelation' is not received. I think that the problem here is that we have some who believe that God will speak to them and those who do not. Of course, if you do not have prophecy in your church, as most churches do not, then they never learn how to handle such things.

Having spent many years in Pentecostal/charismatic groups, I have heard this much more often than the average believer. It is generally handled very well, especially by older Christians who have a lot of experience in this. I have found that it is often best, even if God has shown me something, not to say 'the Lord showed me this or that'. It's better just to put it out there and hope that God shows them the same thing. And much of the time people who say this are just plain wrong. But even if they are wrong, and it is judged by mature believers, then no harm is done.

The conclusion: Everyone remain calm. Those who say 'the Lord showed me' need to be willing to have their revelation judged by others. Those who hear this should feel free to judge these things according to the Word and by what the Lord bears witness to. That does mean, of course, that we should lightly brush off (despise) what is brought forth even by immature believers or by those who are a little overzealous to have their spiritual experience confirmed.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Political Correctness

You may have heard the term 'political correctness' and are not quite sure what it means. I am not going to define it here, but I will give an example of it and try to explain why Christians should resist it.

I was watching television a few days ago when some so-called journalist came on the air bemoaning the fact that people in America do not like Buddhism and Islam. In fact, it was pointed out that most Americans dislike Buddhism even more than Islam. The "journalist" immediately began talking about what we ought to do about this. She jumped to the conclusion, without hesitation, that if someone does not like another's religion then they must hate that person. And if we hate someone that is a bad thing. We ought to love one another.

If there is one vestige left of Christianity in our culture it is the idea that one should love one's neighbor. But, as usual, the world has perverted the concept of loving one's neighbor to approving that neighbor's behavior, or in this case, religion.

Now it is true that if someone hates another's religion then that hatred may be directed towards a person who practices that religion. And that, of course, is wrong. We must very careful that we do not fall into hatred no matter how much we may despise the religion that person follows.

But there is another side to this coin, too. We are called not only to love our neighbors (whatever their religion is), but also to hate evil. We should hate evil actions and evil religions. Now some will object at this point and say that it is un-Christian to say that someone's religion is evil. After all, there are certainly many good people in that religion. To put down their religion is to put them down.

No, that is not true at all. Just because their religion is wrong does not make them bad people (they may or may not be), it may only make them deceived. Paul told the church at Corinth that "the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God." (1 Cor 10:20) Paul does not condemn the practitioners of that religion, only the religion itself. He warns against participation in it by Christians.

We need to pray for those who are in demonic bondage to false religions. Those people need God's mercy and grace so that they can be delivered from this bondage and recognize their need for Jesus Christ. We are not to support them in their deception. If we truly loved them, we would do whatever is in our power to see them set free by the gospel.

The big problem with political correctness is that it tries to tell us what to think and feel about things. We are supposed to love Islam and Buddhism and every other religion. That is multicultural nonsense. We should be discerning about these things.

Do these religions bring people closer to God or farther away from Him? Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father but by Me." Do we actually believe that, or do we believe that one should not witness to those who are in a 'faith community' that does not acknowledge Jesus as Lord?

If we are not careful, our political correctness could be consigning those 'good people' in those false religions to an eternity in Hell because we do not wish to offend their religious sensibilities.

I am willing to offend those who are politically correct to save a fallen world.