Nobody ever said it was going to be easy, but this time I’m really feeling the brunt of it. Giving testimony and being asked to help at Alpha just upped the pressure – don’t think I’m any ‘better’ than any one of you, because I still have my ‘down’ moments and I’m experiencing one right now. It also doesn’t help when you see your fellow Christians judge and criticise others as though they had authority to do so.
Some Christians, of course, are never wrong – they are ‘righteous’ – it is everyone else who is wrong, who is stubborn, who is self-seeking. People I consider as friends have come and gone, quietly, without saying anything spiteful in their own defence. In such an environment, I no longer feel the Spirit in things that I do regularly, and feel it’s time to move on and leave the community.
Things got more gloomy today, when a Google search led me to some disturbing protest letters against Nicky Gumbel himself. Was everything flawed? Was it all an illusion? Or were both sides sincere in their intentions, but merely sought to package the Gospel to newcomers in different ways? My brain was full of contradictory thoughts. I had just given testimony in support of Alpha, without knowing these objections. Even if they were unfounded (and I did feel they were myopic), I felt I was naive at best, to have not been aware of these issues earlier.
Growing more disillusioned with the way my faith (based on experience with other people) was progressing, I decided to re-read some Christian literature that people had given to me.
I picked up ‘The Power of a Praying Woman’ and instantly opened the page to this passage:
Keep in mind that the greater your commitment is to the Lord, the more the devil will try to harass you. That’s why if you are moving into a deeper level of commitment to God, or coming into a new time of deliverance and freedom, or entering into new ministry or work God is opening up for you, you can depend on your enemy trying to stop it. He will do all he can to wear you down with discouragement, sickness, confusion, guilt, strife, fear, depression, or defeat. He may try to threaten your mind, your emotions, your health, your work, your family, or your relationships. He will try to get you to give up. Even though he is not close to being as powerful as God, he attempts to make you think otherwise. He will try to gain a point of rule in your life through deception. He will try to blind you to the truth and get you to believe his lies. He will try to convince you he is winning the battle, but the truth is that he has already lost.
(The Lord has often had a way of picking out key phrases to me when I needed His guidance the most. He’s even told me, on different occasions, where to walk to in a certain Christian bookshop, to find specific items that He wanted me to read. Each item had been placed in the wrong category, meaning I’d never have found it if I had searched for it myself.)
From the above passage, it looks like the warning signs were everywhere for me. Still, I wonder if I can get by on my own, with His help. Maybe I just want to get away from people, for a while.
There are critics everywhere. Some people just cannot accept the fact that culture is a dynamic being. The church cannot live in the past. The message of the gospel never changes. However, the way of spreading the message effectively has definitely changed. Some people are so used to seeing familiar faces and styles of the traditional ways. They cannot accept anything else. The peerson who wrote the Christmas carol, “Joy to the World” was dismissed from the church at the time because it was too, well, “joyful”.
If you live by other peoples’ opinions, you will be a depressed person indeed. Know the Scripture well and keep an open mind.
Sometimes the best way to nourish the soul is to find some genuine solitude. The chatter of people can sometimes easily blot out the voice of God.