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A CHURCH EXPERIENCE by Carolyn C. Holland

By beanerywriters(11,675)

Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2007
View All Blog Posts submitted by beanerywriters

"Do you have your Christian language yet?" Jill asked, leaning across the pew toward Alice and me.
"No," I responded.
"Do you want it?" Her eyes gazed intently into mine.
"Not really. Not at this time."
"You need it," she insisted.
"There are other issues to be considered."
"Regardless of the other issues, you cannot let anything interfere with you receiving your gift."
Jill is a committed Christian and active church member. As her house guests for the weekend, Alice and I had felt obligated to accompany her to her charismatic church. The service had gone well.
At the end of the pastor’s message there was a prayer time, during which I watched and listened as various members spoke in tongues. There was one couple where each took a turn screeching their “language." I cannot remember the pastor’s brief comment about the couple, but I was left with the impression their “screeching" had to do with releasing demons. 
After a period of group praying, the pastor invited persons to come forward for prayer. That was what had brought on Jill’s questioning me regarding my finding my Christian language.
I was getting a little annoyed at her persistence, and finally said "I'm where God wants me to be."
"OK." There was a tone of resignation in Jill’s voice, but by now she had gained Alice’s attention. With renewed vigor she proceeded to instruct us on the value of the gift of tongues as a tool to embrace prayer, to reach out to non-Christians and to enhance our other God-given gifts. She explained that without the "Christian language" doing God’s work was like digging a garden with a spoon rather than a shovel.
At Jill’s urging, Alice accepted the pastor’s invitation to go to the front of the church for prayer. I remained in my seat and observed the proceedings.
I watched as a women anointed and prayed over Alice’s feet. I heard the pastor tell Alice she had a book within her. Meanwhile, another woman fall back on the floor, apparently anointed by the Holy Spirit.
After the service, when Alice and I were together in my car and on the way home, Alice asked me if I'd felt uncomfortable with Jill's invitation.
"Yes," I said. "But I can't explain it." Alice told me that she, too, was uncomfortable in the situation, but she felt an obligation, as Jill's guest, to accept the invitation. Alice thought that Jill wanted her prayers.
I'm often an observer in a situation who processes information received later, so it was not until the next day, while pulling dandelions in my front yard, that I pondered the situation. The result was to gaining a better perspective and understanding as to why Jill's evangelistic approach had made me uncomfortable.
I've been a committed Christian for years. I understand what God's gifts are, and know what my God-given gifts are. Yet Jill treated me as a "newbie" (to adapt computer language terminology). She didn't begin a discussion of gifts, nor did she ask me if I knew my gifts. She proceeded to "lecture" me on the need to have the gift of tongues. Thus, by not giving me credit for being Christian, she diminished me.
I also realized Jill wanted to determine where I stood with God. This is not her place. It's God's responsibility.
Implicit in her desire to make certain I have the "gift" was a statement that I was an inferior Christian. Yet the gift of tongues is not an essential gift. It is, in fact, the least of the gifts. If God wants me to have this gift, I trust him to direct me to it. Meanwhile, I activate his other gifts, rejoicing in the fruit they produce.
In all Jill's conversations a question arises whether the person we're discussing is Christian. She states that this is the only route to a moral and Godly life. Evidence doesn’t support this. I've met many people who are not Christian who live a more "Godly," moral life than many Christians I know.
Jill elicits a feeling that if she can bring a person to Christ, or is able to take her guests up front (and especially if they have an "experience)," she will add another star in her crown. This makes me feel like I, as well as others she encounters, are objectified, seen mainly as people to be converted to her beliefs and not respected for where they actually are in their Godly walk.
God created mankind to develop through a process, not to reach the end of the road before walking the journey or by competing for God’s favor and blessing?
I've introduced the Scripture to many an adult victim of childhood abuse. Had I hit them with "being saved," being "overcome by the Holy Spirit" or "speaking in tongues" without taking time to listen to their stories and providing basic teachings, they would have fled. My initiation for them is their creation in the image of God and their being a vessel of the Holy Spirit. God and the vessel of the Holy Spirit are valuable, not to be punched, thrown against a wall or verbally demoralized.
Considering all the explanations, the underlying issue is that Jill didn't treat me like (as) a human being worthy of respect. She felt it was her place to determine where I should be in my relationship to God. She didn’t recognize that the decision is between God and myself.
Later, Alice told me it was sweet of Jill to want to share with us what made her so happy. I would agree---had Jill stopped with the invitation and accepted my decision. She didn’t, and that is why I felt discomfort.
Do you have your "Christian language?" If so, how has it benefited you?
Have there been times that you felt uncomfortable in church?
Share them in the comment box!

To read other Christian writings click on:
AQUILA AND PRISCILLA: A Script on their Marriage 
Thank you for visiting www.ProBlogs.com/CarolynCHolland.
To read articles posted in the Beanery Online Literary Magazine click on www.ProBlogs.com/beanerywriters.

This Blog Post has been read 235 times.
Posted to ProBlogs.com on Wednesday, November 14, 2007
View other posts by beanerywriters

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