It was for freedom that Christ set us free.
In the early days of the Charismatic Movement, when it began to appear in mainline denominational churches, I heard more than one pastor say, “Tongues divided our church.”
Any rational person, however, should be able to see that it was not the gift of the Spirit that divided their church, but the reaction of people to that gift. Was the gift used inappropriately? Absolutely; but that is still not the source of the division.
The source of division is people. Period. Anything else is an excuse.
Many would proclaim that they needed to be where they were free to speak in tongues. While that may have been true for them, most did not realize that true freedom lay in their being able to also restrain themselves. (1 Cor. 14:1-32)
Tongues, interpretation and prophecy were all manifest during that time, and there were continual abuses of those gifts by many. That in itself, though, is not enough to prove that the gifts are not valid for today; yet that is where many went.
Simply because something is abused is no reason to get rid of that—whatever it is. Parenting is abused, but we should not do away with it. Guns are abused, and though many want to be rid of guns, that is not the answer. Name most anything and you can find situations in which it is abused. That simply does not make the thing itself bad.
All these things are simply a catalytic precipitation for something lying beneath the surface in the heart of man.
Much the same thing is happening within the hyper-radical-pure-grace world today. People are discovering the unrelenting, everlasting and unconditional love of God, and turn right around and throw stones at their former way of life in what they call religion.
There is no doubt but that many have suffered pain, abuse, or even life-altering trauma as a result of what may have happened to them “in church.” I in no way mean to discount, belittle or otherwise invalidate anyone’s experience. However, until we are able to speak the truth about things, healing is not possible.
Was it religion that hurt you? Or, was it people who hurt you? The distinction is important. Or, for a different analogy—was it the gun that shot you? How, then, will forgiving the gun bring any emotional healing?
Let us not mistake the instrument for the source.
The constant bombardment of slams against religion or church is not a manifestation of the love that many of these wounded saints are proclaiming. A feeling of powerlessness causes us to lash out with words from a seemingly safe place of anonymity such as social media. Doing so, however, will not bring a restoration of mind or healing of the spirit.
One of the most healing things any person can do is to realize that they are where they are today because of what has gone before. Notice how Paul relates to our past “imprisonment”—
“Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” (Gal 3:23-26)
We may no longer be under the guardianship of the law in the form of organized religion, but as long as we continue to talk about what it was like, we are still at its effect on us.
As Tony Robbins says, energy flows where attention goes. If our attention is on the past, our energy for the present is dissipated. The writer of Hebrews said much the same thing—”If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return.” (Heb 11:15)
While you may never return to church or religion, as long as you continue to slam in any way, that is where your attention and energy are consumed. Also, are you not doing exactly what you are holding against religion—exacting condemnation for a lack of proper behavior?
But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” (Gal 4:30)
Were we not sons of the slave woman at one time? Cast out the slave woman. Remove yourself from the influence. You are now a son of freedom.
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Gal 5:13)
If you must give energy in the direction of your former way of life, then use that energy to love and serve them. It is the flesh that desires to castigate.
True freedom lies not in avoiding any association, but in not being affected by that association. As Steve McVey is so fond of saying, “That is the grace walk experience.”