“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. ~Matt. 7:15-20
Yesterday, I found myself wending through WordPress’s “Blog Surfer” feature, delving into the subjects my peers find important to address. One particular blog that stayed in my mind addressed the growing prophetic movement in the earth coming out of California. This particular individual was very concerned with the growing trend toward what I term “wanton silliness” in the Presence of God; and though she went somewhat to the extreme in seemingly condemning all ventures into prophecy and healings, I have to admit she raised some valid points.
Let me hasten to say that I have grown up in the Charismatic movement, and I have seen the reality of it. I believe in divine healing, and have seen it manifest this year. Four months ago this week my uncle and father were rushing my mother into the ICU with a brain bleed and at times many of us thought she was leaving us and going home; however, two months later, she was astounding her neurosurgeon by walking unassisted into his office, and today she is running, dancing, doing housework, relearning how to write, playing the piano, intelligently responding to conversation, and traveling across the country laying hands on the sick. In the words of that neurosurgeon, “prayer works!”
However, there has been a disturbing trend in the Charismatic movement away from “the effective, fervent prayer” and into something else. Damon Thompson once said (my paraphrase): it is a tragedy that we have made the pinnacle of our Holy Spirit experience to make people fall down when we pray for them; when the disciples prayed, paralytics got up.
I am not coming against Holy Spirit manifestations. However, I believe the Lord is strong enough to come on a person’s life and manifest Himself without our help. We have become so desperate for a glimpse of the supernatural that we feel we have to “help” the Holy Spirit; so we push people over in the prayer line and say that it was God, or we shake “uncontrollably” one minute only to stop to readjust our clothing, fix our hair, turn and smile at our neighbor, and then resume the shakes. Or we interrupt everything going on around us to laugh raucously and claim it’s the joy of the Lord. Or we spend the entire service seeking to “get sloshed in the Spirit.”
I do not mean to imply that a real God-inspired trembling does not ever take place. I have personally experienced a God-inspired laughter that healed many broken places in my life–an anisthetic before God went in and did some major pruning. Scripture very clearly tells us that the Holy Spirit came on the disciples with such power that they appeared drunk to all who saw them.
The question is–was this their ultimate goal? Did the disciples go into a room seeking the manifestations or seeking Christ?
So many churches are so imbalanced: either they swing to “decency and order in all things” and deny the Holy Spirit opportunity to minister if He desires; or they rush to the other extreme and seek manifestations of glory above all else. And we cannot condemn in either case, for we never know what God is doing on the inside of a person.
However, my prayer of late has been less of, “God, show me Your glory,” and more, “God, make me more holy!” The Old Testament clearly shows that the glory of God cannot come on an unholy vessel without destroying it. To continue to seek manifestations of glory without the power of a changed life is to live on crumbs. I am all for true spiritual drunkenness, trembling, trances, laughter, tears or any other manifestation described in Scripture as long as we have the power to go behind it; but until we begin seeing dead people standing up; paralysis immediately going; demoniacs, drug addicts, and alcoholics instantly delivered; marriages instantly restored–and all of these providing a lasting change in peoples’ lives–then our focus should not be on the byproduct of the Presence. Too often we either pray ineffectively without any fervor or we pray out of hyped-up emotion in a service without listening for the Holy Spirit to lead. Neither way brings the results for which we are looking.
We need to be persistant in faith and in prayer, and seek God and not His power. Jesus said, “these signs will follow those who believe…” which implies to me that we will not always see the move of the Spirt when He walks us through a place.
May you find renewed strength in delving in the First Commandment today, and may “all these things be added unto you…”