This is what the Church looks like to me. Fragments of the truth scattered everywhere, disjointed, and therefore incapable of providing the complete picture of what she truly will become. Now, I'm not going to go into denominationalism, because that would make the topic just too darn complex for what I want to say here. Instead I want to focus on a few main issues that are on my heart.
On one hand you have those that either outright say that the supernatural is not for today, or (as is more common) deny it by their lack of action or pursuit of the supernatural. Or perhaps they merely show a fear/skepticism of even the tiniest display thereof. To the extent that the biblical mandate of bringing the sick forward to have the elders lay hands on them for healing is completely ignored.
On another hand you have those who make claims that are as extreme as they are unverifiable--the cousin of a friend of a brother type deal where someone was teleported or grew a complete new set of legs. (Though you can never quite pin that particular person down and find out for sure. But that's where faith comes in the perpetuators of such tales might say. To which the hypothetical I woud reply, "How convenient that once again I am expected to just blindly accept what you say because you are my brother in Christ.) Gah!
And here is the saddest part of all. On both ends of that spectrum (since there seems to be so few places in the church that aren't polarized), you have folks that are, for the most part, still babes in their faith. Now, I'm not against genuine baby Christians, but when someone has been a Christ-follower for over five years or so, they should have moved onto meat and be possessed of a faith that is more than an inch deep. And whose fault is that really? Mine, of course. For not being what God has called me to be. A discipler. (Oh that is going to change!) And the church's, for focusing on getting folks down the aisle and then proferring the same salvation message week after week. That or some variation on the theme of 'here's how to be a good person and live your best life now.' I'm not implicating any particular church here (just particular people), but if you keep your eyes and ears open to the culture of pop-Christianity that's out here, then you know what I'm talking about.
And pursuit of the supernatural, while not a bad thing, is not necessarily the same thing as pursuing a deeper relationship with Jesus. I believe cultivating a relationship with Him will automatically lead to supernatural experiences, but sometimes we really have gotten the cart before the horse on this one.
My mind tracks back and forth from the rigid traditions handed down through the centuries, to the latest fictional depiction of the nature of God (ie "The Shack). And I come back dissatisfied with both! I know there is a balance and a true expression of love in which doctrine and relationship coexist, but it seems so hard to find.
I'm tired of being dissatisfied, tired of being told (and saying) that we (the Church) are not living in our potential and birthright as believers. I'm also sick of being deflected by the subtle insinuation that a cry for balance is somehow compromising the truth and siding with the well meaning, but misguided members of the body that don't believe exactly like "we" do. If nothing else, take a hint from this post that I'm finding it hard these days to side with anybody.
I have one foot planted in a denominational church that is really doing a ton of good works. The other reaches back to the Charismatic roots where I was ushered into the kingdom. But I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. Tonight, for instance, as I was walking into church (late), I heard the pastor preaching on our true identity and seeing ourselves as God does. He was talking about being powerful of all things. This is huge, folks. I believe God has something big for the Baptist church to do in the coming years and we are on our way to being equipped for it. I had this confirmed earlier today in an email reply from a prophet of God. I'll share just a bit of what I said to him, which really just reitterates what I said at the outset of this post:
I have such a sadness of spirit over believers who have no knowledge of the Word, church history, or discernment between truth and error. A lot of what I've seen the past few years is troubling to me in that people are at polar ends of the spectrum when it comes to the supernatural, but when it comes to true spiritual knowledge, they are at exactly the same level.
On the one hand you have churches that either outright reject the supernatural or deny it by their lack of pursuit in the areas of healing, the prophetic, or anything that smacks of God's power. These churches accomplish things that could just as easily be done by the local Kiwanis club. And so their deception is one of denial. They have a form of godliness but the power is denied. Their idea of maturity is to reach the point where they are 'good people' and they end up making 'resisting sin' and 'making converts' the primary goals.
On the other hand you have those that are following every supernatural wind that blows, without even trying to discern its spirit of origin. They hunger for a sign or a manifestation, but won't seek God's face. Satan could show up performing miracles and they would blindly follow him. This is a sad fact.
Both these camps miss the point. We don't need converts that forever struggle with the basic things of God. We need to become and make disciples!
It's time that we (I include myself in this) stop checking our brains at the door. We can't afford to let someone else do our thinking for us, nor should we sit by and allow the world out think us. The truth is on our side, the ball is in our hands, and we should be playing offense - moving it down the field instead of sitting in a huddle trying to let the clock run down.
We don't need to fear the argument of those who don't know the Source of ALL TRUTH. Our faith can stand up to scrutiny, but only if we are ready in and out of season to give the reasons for our hope. Maybe it's because too many of us have shown so little evidence of HOPE. If you really have hope for healing you will pray, you will lay hands on the sick. They will recover. It's time for a Holistic Faith where reason and radical belief become two sides of the same coin. It can happen. It must. And don't be afraid to ask questions, to look for answers. I think Thomas gets a bad rap. All the other disciples doubted too, and was Thomas asked to proceed in blind faith? No! He got to touch the resurrected Christ.
And I think that's what we are all longing for. To see the Body of Christ resurrected. To see the Bride alive and well, glorious and Risen!
Let's get whole. Let's grow deep roots and move into all He's called us to. It's time.