Note: this is the second part to a short series-within-a-series on spiritual boundaries. Read introductory story here.
I love my charismatic upbringing. The confidence afforded me in my relationship with Christ, the foundational assurance that I am loved, and wanted, and important to God – I owe these to my parents and to the practice of the church culture in which I was raised.
How can a person not absorb this message when week after week, year after year, she hears, “God wants you! Come to him! He loves you! He’s in you! It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done!” And how can a person not learn to practice this belief, if, followed by the message that she’s loved and wanted, she is moved into songs of worship like, “Thou art holy, great Jehovah,” songs that lift her up, take her outside herself, and exalt God upon his throne? A young person is taught to WORSHIP, body and soul, tongue and mind, because He is worthy, worthy, worthy of all our praise.
This worship anchors the message that she is loved, because she’s not left with some shallow idea of Self being where love ends. No, the love fills her up and then is offered back to God. Only He, awesome He, is worthy, and she is brought low in worship after being lifted high in Spirit, and in this way she is anchored. A young person is among the angels and the elders casting their crowns, crying “holy, holy, holy” and God is SO BIG, SO BIG, and if you put bigness with love, a heart is held tremendously fast.
Because of the gift that my church upbringing offered me, it has taken me some serious time (read: years and years) to untangle in my own head where pentecostalism oversteps her bounds. There’s so much goodness, so much Jesus, but there are so many tiny little lies (legalistic, experience-oriented lies), too. Mine is not a perfect assessment, but the untangling became necessary because I literally began going crazy in my mind. Something about the religion I absorbed produced a rottenness in my soul and ugly fruit in my relationships. It would be Scripture, wise teachers, life experiences outside of the church, and lessons (continually) learned in marriage and parenting that would help untangle the lies so that my heart-faith could root itself in firmer ground.
So please make room for these reflections to be imperfect. I neither have the time nor brain space to exhaust the full depth of this subject (even though I want to!) and my sharing may skim a surface and miss some marks. But I want to do this because bad ideas need knocked over in order to be replaced with truer (truest!) truth, and in my own life I’ve been given such a gracious gift in the knocking and replacing.
Jesus is the way, truth and life, right? He is the narrow way that leads to life, and everything else leads to destruction. If you have been violated spiritually, manipulated, have had Truth used against you, have had other people trespass your personal autonomy and (knowingly or unknowingly) tried to control who you are and what your faith should look like, then this is my heart to yours in these posts. If you haven’t experienced this, or feel offended at these words, please be patient with me and read anyway. We’re talking freedom and life, here. Goodness and truth. Grace and peace. Because God is so, so good and kind. His is not a way of burdensome striving. His nurture of us is respectful and tender, even in discipline, and even in the wooing of our hearts. His is not a way of compulsion or manipulation or force, but of calling, and inviting, and example, and help.
Rather than knocking us over the heads with, “you better, right now, or else,” His is an offer (continually) to “come and see.”
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