God loves you just the way you are. If you think his love for you would be stronger if your faith were, you are wrong. If you think his love would be deeper if your thoughts were, wrong again. Don’t confuse God’s love with the love of people. The love of people often increases with performance and decreases with mistakes. No so with God’s love. He loves you right where you are. To quote my wife’s favoirte auther:
“God’s love never ceases. Never. Though we spurn him. Ignore him. Reject him. Despise him. Disobey him. He will not change. Our evil cannot diminish his love. Our goodness cannot increase it. Our faither does not earn it anymore than our stupitity jeopardizes it. God doesn’t love us less if we fail or more if we succeed. God’s love never ceases.”
The Charismatic Gift Debate is a rather difficult debate to decide which view to choose between. I have never favored those who might take middle ground on issues of doctrine, however I have always been one who has chosen black or white, never gray. This debate, however, has forced me to take a middle ground. I realize that while taking this “middle ground” I must be careful, because according to Ephesians 4:14 it says, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.” I believe it is important to know what you believe and why; however in this case, I am not taking the extremes of either side. I will still try to maintain a Biblical approach to the debate.
Before I begin, let me be clear on how I feel about the issue. Last semester I was on campus at Liberty and a prayer leader on my hall. I begged a girl, in my prayer group, to come to Wednesday night campus church with me. She told me that she would go, but only if I came to her church, I agreed. I had no idea that it was a Charismatic church, however while I was there, the Pastor pointed to the logo of my t-shirt, which said “Easily Distracted” (it’s a joke, because I am ADD), to the congregation and that is what he preached his sermon on that night. I was stunned, shocked and the first question that came to my mind was, “He’s a Pastor?” I had heard, that Charismatic churches get a little “carried away” since I was a little girl, but I had no idea what I was about to encounter. First, a few whooping and yelling here and there started, “Nothing wrong with that, they’re just a little excited,” I told myself. Then the Pastor started yelling and people started dancing and crying and before I knew it, they were huddled around me wanting to heal me. It was a night I will probably never forget, however with this said, I will not lie to you and say I did not struggle in trying to figure out what is truth and what is not. I did struggle and this is my conclusion; no matter how far fetched or weird that night was, I have no place to judge the hearts of those people. I have been in church gatherings where there have been different denominations worshipping together and there be someone in the crowd running around, jumping or dancing and a Pastor call them out, most cruelly. There might be a lot of argument with the statement I’m about to make, but is it truly our place to judge if that person is in the Spirit or not? I know for myself, I am not wise enough to wear those shoes, however if I’m the one being distracted by that persons actions, isn’t it my fault that I am not focusing upon God? Please, don’t hear me wrong, I do believe there are some instances where the Pastor must call out a member, but in this case [the gathering that I was attending] I think maybe the Pastor could have dealt with the situation better.
I say all this to explain why I am taking a middle grounded approach to this debate. Let me be clear, I am not one to dance in the middle of the walkway in the sanctuary; I am a shy person and a more private worshipper. My main reason is because of our heart. First Samuel 16:7 states, “…The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” While I believe that God looks at our hearts, I do believe it is important to be careful of our pride. Jesus said in Matthew 6:7, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.”
Concerning the issue of speaking in tongues, although I have never heard one speak in tongues before, I do not doubt that it is possible. While I say this, I am not out constantly looking for someone to speak in tongues nor do I believe that one has to speak in tongues to be saved, that is called legalism. I am not to the extreme nor am I too laid back on the issue that I do not believe they exist anymore. I am very much in the middle. I do not feel wise enough to say that tongues once existed, but not anymore, that was a New Testament thing; when there is some instances recorded that this gift had been exercised and proven correct by an interpreter. Nor do I believe that this gift is so special that I must go out looking for it constantly or pretend to be speaking in tongues to distract a service.
In conclusion, if you had to label me as “something” I would label myself as Continuationist, however I am in no means an extreme Continuationist of the view. If I am distracted in a service because someone is “in the Spirit” it is not my place to judge or become upset by my distraction, but rather wonder why I, myself, am distracted from focusing upon God. If I am so quick to judge, there is something wrong with my own heart. Some would argue that First Corinthians 13:8, which says, “…But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled…” Is proof that speaking in tongues have ceased, because the time of the “New Testament” is finished. However, I do not believe the time of the “New Testament” is finished. The writings are completed, but not the prophecy of Revelation, therefore there is a good possibility that these gifts are still being practiced today.