Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Great Divide - Relationship and Annointing

Yesterday I grabbed lunch with a guy that seems more interested in what's going with me than anyone else I know, except my wife. (I actually have some online friends that call me and pray for me too.) We had a long discussion about what's important in church. Of course we have different experiences and opinions about that.

What I found interesting as I distilled our conversation, and many others that I have had over the past few years, down, was this. I am now seeing two sides of the church, and it is almost as polarized as politics. Have you noticed? If you haven't, I suggest that you survey every Christian that you know, and you will discover two extremes which folks are passionate about: relationship or anointing.

One group is comprised of long-time church members that have had friends for a number of years-- folks that they get together with in small-groups and possibly other places. I will call them the relational and friendly type.

The other group are the anointing junkies; extreme lovers of His presence and sold out for the supernatural. They are the ones with the amazing testimonies-- and the ones whose character is sometimes suspect. They are often found in para-church ministries, and outside of church.

Sure there is a third group, which is religious, and would probably be categorized as "nominal Christians." This group is neither relational, or expecting God to act supernaturally. And they are ineffective in the Christian debate.

So what is the great divide? Folks that attend Sunday service week-in-and-week-out are often relational. In many ways they are the more stable ones, and respond best to pastoral care. They are often the ones that become "pillars" of the church; set in place to be the backbone of the local church. These folks are essential.

The folks that attend very anointed conferences and churches where there are a lot of supernatural displays of power, healing and the like, tend to be absorbed in what the Spirit is doing, and not so much what people are doing. They are essential too.

Most folks fall into one camp or the other, that is where the divide is. The relational folks think that the "swing from the chandeliers" folks are shallow and operate in the flesh. And the supernatural junkies think that the others "low voltage" folks are a little un-spiritual, not very passionate about Jesus, and they to operate in the flesh. Just like liberals and conservatives.

The truth is both are essential in the church, and both are operating in the flesh from time-to-time. How do I know, they are judging each other, that's how.

Can't we just coexist? No! Coexisting is to relationship, what cohabitation is to marriage. We must learn to love one another, and be grateful for the gifting that is in our midst. How can we judge powerful manifestations of the Spirit, while we quietly call out to God for healing for a friend or loved one? Some things don't fit in a nice neat little God box! Have I stepped on your toes? Well ask yourself this, do you think the disciples were a just a little freaked out with screaming demons, and the use of mud and spit to heal a blind man? Then how is it that spiritual pride gets in our way when we watch a televangelist, whom we think is of bad character, ask for money? Have you considered this? If you had found a place for him in your church, he wouldn't be there asking for money-- and he may have had a chance to grow up in your congregation - well, if you had loved and nurtured him, trained him and taught him -- oh and recognized his gifting.

For those that prefer low voltage, predictable Christianity that is more related to others, then it it is to God, you need to ask yourself this. What is your relationship with God like? Have you quenched the Holy Spirit? If you can say that you haven't, then you need to find a way for others that are not created like you, to be in relationship. The type of fellowship and relationship that God wants. There is never a place for us to judge, just to encourage, to love and to prefer one another.

Have you heard the saying, so heavenly minded one is no earthly good, and so earthly minded one is no heavenly good? On the surface that seems to be the problem, but it is much deep in that we must be led by the Lord. This requires an intimate relationship with Jesus.

The purpose of the cross is to reconcile us to God, so that we can be in relationship with Him, and those around us.

As Christians, it is essential to close the gulf between these opposing views of Christianity, and become unified. We don't need to be like each other, or be concerned about style, and paradigms. Unity simply says that others exist, just like you do, for the purpose of the kingdom. When we recognize the kingdom values in others, we will not be concerned about what, or how God does things, just that He is there and doing it.

When it comes to relationship, we are called to love. To love like Jesus did with the Gospel; one with power. Because a gospel without power is only a philosophy. Relationally we are not called to be nice to one another, but to lay down our lives. To goal of local church relationship is to get us to a place where we can wash each others feet, confess our sins one to another so that we can healed, made whole and of become of good character. Together, as a body, we get to do what Jesus did-- all of it, not just the part we like.

5 comments:

eaglegirl said...

Hmmm. could I be one of those very odd ducks that are both relational and desire the annointing ?
While I am hanging off the chandeliers I want to be in relationship with others. Is that possible ? I don't know.

Tevet said...

"Sure there is a third group, which is religious, and would probably be categorized as "nominal Christians." This group is neither relational, or expecting God to act supernaturally. And they are ineffective in the Christian debate."
Very, very funny! Very, very true!

It is frustrating that I can be quicker to label and judge someone than I can be to give Grace and get to know them.

I greatly appreciate your emphasis on relationships and how you approach it.

photogr said...

Dave:

I am not sure where I can be pigeon holed in this sceme of things.Interesting anologies though.

Could it be ones own ideaology on what is percieved important over another ideaology?

The main themes that I have found as far as being a Christian is Worship, Fellowship, and Serving. All the other definitions tend to blend in as a part of the total package.

I would not think one should or would go to church and expect a super natural or healing action every time one worships.It would be up to the Lord and the Holy Spirit to activate such instances as They see fit. However we would definitely benefit from such instances I am sure.

I have read in the Bible of Jesus traveling from town to town preaching and healing those that were aflicted. In some cases He ( as I understood it) seemed preplexed from the hoards of people wishing to get near him for healing. What about His words of salvation? Did it fall on deaf ears as he mentioned a few times?

So much to learn and not enough time.

Rich Bigelow said...

If we got to a "Worship Service" expecting a supernatural healing then we are going for ourselves and not for God. Worship is about God and not about us and if all He decides to do is show up and watch, maybe open some eyes to His wonder and majesty, that's up to him. But to come before him expecting Him to do something for us makes it about us and that is not Worship.

David said...

@Richard - I agree, showing up in some way demanding God to do the supernatural is about us. But our God is a supernatural God, and He does intend to commune with us. He isn't interested in looking down on us, but walking with us in the "cool of day" and "dwelling with His people."

Worship is ascribing worth to God. Our time, our passion and our dollars are pretty sure signs of how well we are doing. Our expressions of service, love and adoration are ways that we can offer worth-ship to our Lord.

But I don't think that God is inactive waiting for us to do something. He is pursuing us, and our worship services should be something that is described in 1 Cor 14.

We cannot worship without Spirit and truth, we cannot serve under our own power, and fellowship in the Lord is ministry, not a social gathering.

Thanks for commenting.

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