Wednesday, April 11, 2007

God Told Me 2

This is a follow up to Jamie’s request to flesh out what I mean about blame/shame/pride being associated with the “God Told Me” process.

Charismatics are notorious for over personalizing their relationship with Jesus in ways that are not consistent with God’s word. I have known people who literally ask God what color socks they should be wearing that day and then went throughout the day with mismatching socks. It seems they wanted God to be so intimate with them that they needed to fabricate His voice down to the very minutiae of their lives.

Matthew 25:33-45 is a beautiful passage of a healthy unawareness of God telling them to do anything specific. The righteous simply did what the Bible has already told them through His Word. They are commended for it and yet they seemed fully unaware of how much God had valued their care.

“God Told Me” language sometimes gives the message that unless I am divinely prompted I don’t have to do anything. The problem is that God has spoken through His word and therefore we are mandated to go out of our way to care more. If we care in order to curry favor with God we are missing the point as well.

When people do things from the feeling of “God Told Me” they run the risk of the blame/shame/pride process. If the thing that they were prompted to do actually works they are almost immoveable in their idea that God only leads that way. An example goes something like this. God told me to give someone $167. The person receiving is ecstatic because they needed exactly that amount to pay their electricity bill. The lesson for the giver is sometimes misunderstood to mean, see God shows exactly how to give and I only have to do what He divinely shows me.

It gets even worse if God actually uses someone in areas of divine healing. Pride jumps in almost immediately because obviously they are now individuals who are walking under God’s divine favor. Unless you have seen someone healed through your prayers then you have no voice in their lives. People also cater to those who have been vessels that were used to reveal God miraculously. If God used him in such a spectacular way then who are we to examine what they say? This can have them being treated like “rock stars” with nobody daring to question them.

What about when things don’t work out? The danger here is in blaming others for causing the failure. How does blame show up? A person is sick and the doctor says, without a miracle she will be dead in 24 hours. A prayer group gathers to intercede. Somebody has a strong feeling (God Told Me) that the person will be healed. The group agrees in prayer that it is not this person’s time to die. The person dies. Instead of normal grieving, there are pointing fingers as to who didn’t have enough faith for the miracle. Even the dead person is blamed for not receiving the healing by faith. It just gets crazy and people’s trust in God is diminished through the unknown culprit who lacked enough faith. Obviously the group doesn’t blame God but deep down that thought is there as well.

Shame can also be present in this scenario in that people can think that they were way to unworthy to have had God use them. Instead of maturing they are inward focused about how they will never measure up to being able to hear God’s voice. They may never even acknowledge this feeling, they just slowly wither up.

God uses many ways of speaking to us. I’m not saying that God doesn’t directly intervene in the affairs of mankind. What I am saying is that God has already given us many ways of hearing Him. He speaks to us through our giftings, our personalities, our experience, His creation, others, His Word and world history. Let’s not limit ourselves to the .01% of the time that He actually speaks something to us directly. And let us never make it a demand. When He does speak to you, feel free to test it through all the other ways in which He joyously does speak to His children.


Jamie A. Grant said...

Awesome. I especially like this because the blame/shame/pride concept is so easy for me to grasp.

Leonard said...

A very well thought out work without ridiculing those who do use the God Told Me language. You invite them to look at their practice from an external perspective. And you give a freedom to so many that have never heard an audible voice to know that God leads them just as clearly .... actually some times more clearly.... than those who get the voice.

Jamie A. Grant said...

Heh. I just got the pun in the title...

David Grant said...

I was wondering if you would.