This people honoureth me with their lips; But their heart is far from me. ~ Matthew 15:8
If the Lord Himself had not given me a very clear & unmistakable directive I would not be in a Charismatic bible school. There is a reason my Dearest & I have never belonged to a Charismatic church, regardless of how personally charismatic we have become because once upon a time...
Once upon a time there was a man named Jimmy Swaggart. Do you remember him? If I remember correctly no~one, ever, has had a bigger Christian ministry ~ & that includes heavyweights like Billy Graham & David Wilkerson. Back in the 70's Swaggart was The Man. His ministry was networked by more t.v stations in more countries & reached more people than anyone else has ever managed. Anyone. Ever. Everyone had heard of him even if you weren't a Swaggart fan. He was BIG ~ & great was his fall thereof.
To give the AOG people due credit they did defrock him ~ eventually~ but the fallout from such very public disgrace is still being felt, & unfortunately there have been others since Swaggart. Not so big, not so well known, but the damage to the name of God has been huge. The word hypocrite gets bandied around a lot. I can't blame unbelievers for that, but it stings. Such things should just not be so amongst the People of God.
Apart from anything else the Jimmy Swaggarts have been a huge embarrassment to the Charismatic movement as a whole. You can tell unbelievers all you like that we are sinners saved by grace but all they hear is, You're no better than us. Sadly, all too often, that is the unvarnished truth.
Now I'm not dumping on Swaggart. There but for the grace of God & all that...Moreover he is still a sinner saved by grace & his sin is none of my business. Really, it's not. Apart from the fact I could care less. What has arrested my attention, because it's been one of those things that has niggled & niggled away at me, is why we are no better than the unsaved world. We should be. He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. Yadda, yadda.
Well, I have my answer. Shock. Horror. Gasp.
I need to say, because I have a flibberty~gibbert mind, that Rhema, having it's roots deep in the American bible belt & all that is prone to teaching us via DVD from some of the best that American Rhema has to offer ~ & I do get it's a cultural thing ~ but I am over the sharp suits, the lurid shirts & flouro ties. I feel like the word of God is coming to me via the Mafia Mob! Just so you know.
Now that I have got that off my mind I am impressed. I am impressed because for a long time the Charismatic movement was renowned for moving freely in the Spirit but being sadly lacking when it came to teaching the truth of the Word. Rhema at least has bitten the Swaggart bullet & not only learnt their lesson but has gone to great pains to address the issue from the Word of God.
We are in the middle of 3 heavyweight subjects that ultimately address just one issue ~ Character. If Christians paid as much attention to the things they didn't like in the Word as they do to the things they do like, if teachers put the emphasis where God puts it, we would all be doing a whole lot better at convincing the world that something radical has happened to us. All through the epistles, though the writers address a variety of different issues, the bedrock principle comes down to just one thing: Character. We are to develop lives of honour, of integrity, of blamelessness. Like Joseph. Like Daniel. Who, as Doug Jones pointed out caustically, were Old Testament & managed this without the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling in them! Ouch.
And to really rub salt into the wound it begins, as so often with God, not with the big things, not with the Do Not Commit...things, but with the little, everyday things: with how we behave as employers, as wives, as husbands; how we fill out our tax & our manners at the grocery store. OK, I'm not likely to not buy my boat ticket but if the deckie forgets to click my ticket I'm not about to whistle him back & go, Hey, you forget to click me. And I should. Because that is the right thing to do. I am prone to inform the Cashier if she has given me too much change ~ however tempted I may be ~ & so I should. Because it is the right thing to do. I had never made the connection, because I can be a bit dense that way, that when we don't live with integrity we actually give unbelievers validity to "blaspheme the word of God." Titus 2:5, Romans 2:24 ~ for which we will be held accountable!
And if you want to know how far we, as a society, have fallen from honour think about this. When I was a little girl we travelled fairly regularly between Sydney & Brisbane; 6oo miles of highway dotted with farms & in many places along the roadside there'd be a rickety stand with a cashier's metal box & a variety of goods for sale, maybe lemons off the tree, or beans that didn't make it to market, or homemade chutney & jam, everything packaged up & neatly labeled with how much it was & you'd drop your coins in the box & help yourself to the goods. Ironically called the Honour System. We actually still have one on the island. It's padlocked & chained & bolted to the table.
When was the last time you saw an honour box? They're still out there ~ but for how much longer I wonder? Like the charity boxes that used to sit unguarded in our churches they are gradually becoming a thing of the past because we are becoming a people without honour. Think about it. We expect our pollies to lie. We expect our cinema stars to be morally corrupt. We roll our eyes when yet another pastor gets caught in flagrante delicto.
I have some house keeping to do. I swear, keeping my spiritual home neat, tidy & undefiled is even more work than my actual house ~ & becomes messy just as fast! *sigh*