I am over seeing tweets and blogs from “church leaders” that leave readers feeling discouraged. They talk down to us with lists that scream “pray like this,” “read like this,” “worship like this,” "serve like this,"... OR ELSE... you’ll never have true passion, you’ll never have victory, you’ll never overcome, you’ll never experience God’s love, you'll never be free, you’ll never walk out the plan God created you live... you’ll never be ___________ enough.
I am thankful that the church where we are on staff doesn't teach this way. If I had to listen to this arrogant teaching from a pulpit every week, I would probably be in a permanent state of depression. My guess is that many of the people sitting under leadership like this don't realize that what they are being told isn't right. Perhaps church goers leave Sunday morning feeling challenged, and even excited to try to amp-up their spiritual walk. Maybe they commit to read their Bible more, pray more, spend more time in worship (which, our lives are worship, but that is a different blog), in order to experience the financial freedom... the healing… the victory... the "breakthrough"…. they have so desperately needed.
One of two or three things will happen over time when this mindset is set into play (I have been in each of these situations).
1. Burn out. You pray. You seek. You worship. You read. But the answer you were looking for doesn't come, so you get discouraged, and figure you are meant to live the way things were. *sigh*
2. You quit. Too many things to do, too little time. How can I ever measure up to what they've told me to do? I can't. I give up.
3. Coming soon...
All of those things (prayer, worship, reading our Bibles, serving, etc) are great. We should do them more, but we should do them out of the simplicity of love. We love God, therefore we… serve, worship, pray, read the Bible. Doing these things will cause growth in our spiritual lives and our love for God and for others will undoubtedly deepen.
My issue is not with leaders telling their congregants to do these things.
The issue is telling people that they will never measure up or experience God in certain ways unless they do this or that, is not only bad theology, it is plain mean!
The thing is, God is so tender and so loving and so amazing in every way imaginable. He is love. He keeps no record of wrongs. He is our loving father and would never take something good from his kids, or deny us something good because, well, you just didn't 'pray through', so I'm sorry but you can never have victory. Um, you didn't worship hard enough the other day - you were sort of tired, so I'm sorry - you can't overcome your circumstances. I know you have a job and kids to look after, but you really aren't spending enough time in the trenches engaging in spiritual warfare, so…. you can't be free. SorryNotSorry.
Really? Really?! Does that sound like the God you love and serve?
So, hopefully, if you haven't already, you can find yourself in this third category of people.
3. Revelation. You wise up and realize that it is not about how, what, when, where, why. It's not about anything at all that we do.
The simple truth that you are alive and have been born into God automatically makes you everything he says you are.
You are loved.
You are victorious.
You are (more than) an overcomer.
You are free.
You are a child of God.
You are beautiful.
You haven't "missed" God's plan.
Guess what? You don't have to do one single thing to obtain victory, freedom, love, hope…. whatever! If someone tells you that you can only experience those things via some spiritual-action plan, they are wrong. If someone tells you that you haven't experienced victory, or healing, or whatever…. because you haven't spent enough time in the "spiritual trenches" battling the enemy, they are wrong.
You have victory because he created you to be victorious. Nothing you do, or don't do, can change that.
You have overcome because he created you to be an overcomer. More than an overcomer. Nothing you do, or don't do, can change that.
You have freedom because he has set you free. Nothing you do, or don't do, can change that.
This is it - God wants you to love him and to love other people. Without reserve. No limits. Love. Then love some more.
God loves you. Nothing changes it. Ever. The end.