When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” – John 6:60 (ESV)
But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others. For,“Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?”But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ. – 1 Corinthians 2:14-16 (NLT)
Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in the Christian life. – 1 Corinthians 3:1 (NLT)
I have no idea what to call this, so I just called it something that kind of taps into it all. In my usual manner, I’m spending a lot of time observing things in the church. Believe it or not, I get a lot of revelation just by examining trends, talk, and interactions people have among themselves. Last year, everyone was calling everyone else a “witch” or “Jezebel.” This year, everyone is accusing you of not having a legitimate calling if you don’t see things the way they do. The majority of “prophecies” we hear are not-so-subtle rebukes, indicating the inquirer is doing something wrong, even if they aren’t. Everywhere I turn, it seems like someone is trying to take authority or control over someone else, and where people used to be subtle about it, they are now cocky and overt.
Which makes me echo the title of this: It’s not all about me…or you (or the past)!
Think for a minute about the things that have been spoken to you, about you, or by you recently. Odds are good, you heard one of the following statements:
“Well, Brother/Sister so-and-so, you know what the Bible says…” (insert Bible verse)
“You need to let go of the past.”
“You need to stop holding a grudge.”
“Stop looking back, only look forward.”
“Forget about your past.”
“Don’t worry about what someone else thinks of you, not everyone is for you.”
“Keep it moving”
“Don’t let things get to you.”
“Don’t be afraid.”
“God’s got a plan.”
Now, I want you to think about the context that these things were said in. How often, if you truly examine the context of what was going on, do these things really apply to you, your situation, or the situation you were dealing with? If we genuinely do some soul-searching and stop getting caught up in the emotions of a moment, most of us might look at the situation we are in, try to match up the world, and realize something doesn’t line up.
This might be a hard saying that few accept, but I believe the church really needs to look at this. Are we genuinely giving people – and receiving – words from God – or words that seem trendy, that we hope can fit any and all situations? If we truly want people to heal and we believe what we say makes a difference, then shouldn’t we make our words based on divine knowledge and wisdom, and less on pop culture, popular phrases, and things we hear over and over again all the time?
For example: I will post a status about something that has absolutely nothing to do with me. It will genuinely be a word that comes about by God’s revelation. I’ll get post after post that tell me – personally – what to do. “Don’t take it personally!” “Just keep it moving!” “You are not assigned to everyone!” What I posted will not be about any of this. I will not be feeling a bit down or be going through anything. Which tells me one thing: People post, speak, or respond to things not out of the Spirit a lot of the time. If they were reading it via Spirit, they would understand the purpose of the posting has nothing to do with me. But, it’s a lot easier to just assume it’s about me and then not receive the correction therein. If it’s about “me,” then people can find a reason not to apply it to themselves. If someone takes it too personally, they can reject it.
Or, if somehow by the Spirit we call something out, people get angry and defensive, and insist it’s not a “word” from God. Talk about exposing yourself! Suddenly people can’t just follow their own advice and “keep it moving,” they need to start a full-fledged argument. Really, if we preach something, post something, or say something, odds are good – it isn’t about you. God’s just speaking to us for your benefit.
The “ouch, hallelujah, amen” goes right there.
People do not always need a Bible verse; sometimes they need a hug, or some sincere encouragement, that makes the Word come alive. They don’t need to feel lectured, preached at, or rebuked without cause. I personally already know God’s got a plan and do not need that reminder when I don’t understand whatever is going on. Hearing that doesn’t make me feel better, it makes me feel more lost and alone, like people just don’t “get it.” So often I am told not to be afraid, not to worry, and not let things get to me when nothing is wrong. If I say I am fine, I am accused of lying. Yet, when I really do need a word, I have to search high and low to find someone in touch with the Spirit enough to say something that is really beneficial. If I relate testimony or reflection on something from the past, I am told that I am dwelling on the past. Just because I remember something that once happened to me doesn’t mean I am living in the past, it means I remember something. The Bible doesn’t tell us to “forget” the past, it tells us to testify, which means we must remember where we once were to talk about it. Everyone you meet is not stuck in the past! Everyone you meet with an issue, or a revelation, or a thought, is not holding a grudge or resentment toward someone else! Sometimes people are just not meant to be in our lives for a period of time or ever again. Sometimes God reveals things about others to us for our own benefit – so we will act rather than wait until we get ourselves in a mess. The problems people have do not all boil down to grudges, the past, fear, or memories! Sometimes people do all the right things, are exactly where God would have them to be, and they still face opposition not because of hidden sin or unrepentant issues, but because they are a believer and, as believers, we face warfare. Maybe we need to stop just giving the words we hear everyone else give people and really reach out to someone and speak something into their lives that will truly help them to be encouraged, to heal, or to overcome. I personally don’t find the majority of what people think is “encouraging” to be such, I find it condescending. I feel like people are just saying what they think are the “words du jour” with no meaning behind them. And you know what? I never say anything because I think I’m alone in that, but I am learning I’m not. Stop blowing people off, stop making them feel small and insulted, and start speaking to people where they are, giving something that’s needed rather than thinking they are the problem all the time. Be very careful about your words. The message, interpretation, insight, or word you give someone is not about you. It’s not about getting noticed, usurping authority over them, subordinating them, or “checking” them. It’s not even about the person you are talking to as a person. It is not about the past. It is about the work of God, and truly doing things that we cannot explain.
The prophets of old were not a giant cliche. They did not give every person they met the same condescending message over and over again. No, they tapped into the Spirit and spoke exactly what God would have them say in due time. Church, stop the cliches. Get to know people. Let them know you care. Stop recycling phrases and popular concepts, because it’s not helping anyone. It’s also really not necessary. If you walk in the Spirit, then you can know what to say by the Spirit, not by the popular phrases you hear around you. Also, receive the Words spoken that you know are for you, and stop trying to get around that fact by attacking the messenger.
And those of us who are in the Spirit, love God and truly want to be around truly spiritual people…we will thank you as we move onto a new profundity that is not about anything of this world.
(c) 2014 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.