…is what I’m doing. Is carefully and purposefully writing to warn believers in Christ about other believers. True, zealous, sincere, misguided, deceived believers. Believers who pray like you’ve never seen. Whose music thrills your soul. Who call you to heights you never dreamed of. Who have everything going on when it seems you have nothing. Who are intense, who have amazing videos, who quote scripture like they wrote it. Who have schools and classes and special rooms and buildings and big name teachers who will never know your name. Who shout and whisper and move you with beautiful speech. Who carry power and influence and meet in the back with wealthy donors. Who prophesy, who teach, who can give your life meaning. Who touch your trembling soul with endless eloquence about God’s love…and mean every word.
Friends, Colossians 2 says this:
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
I have been cheated. Cheated out of peace, security, fruitfulness, clarity, months, years, and truth. Out of my inheritance in Christ. He is restoring all, through His truth, and I am no longer a cheated woman. No longer spiritually barren, no longer confused, no longer desperate and empty and longing. Instead, now I am full and fruitful and strong in Christ.
But I do not write for myself. I write because I’ve seen others cheated. Not just out of truth or understanding. Out of so much worse. I’ve seen destruction too massive and too numerous to describe. Churches corrupted and scattered in a matter of months, marriages ended, couples infertile, babies dead, children dead, men and women dead, disease, obesity, depression, behavioral disorders, mental imbalance, apostate children, sneaking heresy, and more. If you’re from my background, if you’ve been to the meccas of the current charismatic church: International House of Prayer-KC, Bethel, Morning Star, Lakeland…you’ve been around it, too. You may not have noticed.
You might not call it destruction. You might just call it normal. I did. You might be so excited by the testimony of a healing on stage that you don’t stop to ask why so many people in one place have strange diseases. You might be so desperate to hear a story of someone (in some other unverifiable place) raised from the dead that you don’t ask why there is another funeral of someone under 30. You might be so thrilled to recruit others to experience the “worship” high of an upcoming conference that you neglect to tell them about the depression you battle in between times.
I know that when you’re in, you’re in. And when you’re in, you lose track of life on the outside. That there are Christians out there with healthy families, who don’t have nightmares or suicidal children. That there are communities that aren’t praying themselves through another funeral or scandal every couple of months. That it is not the normal Christian life to be preparing for the next catastrophe, famine, or war. That there are places where Word of God is producing leaders whose character matches their platform, and you don’t have to “overlook” their quirks. “Quirks” like women who roar and are insubordinate, men who prophesy and are deviants, and people who for all their seeking in the sanctuary are just as stuck and immature as ever in their real lives.
When you’re in, you can even lose track of your own life. That the fasted lifestyle, 24/7 prayer and worship lifestyle, waving, blowing, jumping, shaking lifestyle is not bringing peace to your marriage, joy to your children, or strength and health to your body. That a decade spent on any of these counterfeits might leave you spiritually maimed for life. That by the time you realize you wasted your time, you might be so jaded, you can’t find the pure zeal that first led you to seek after more.
I have seen it so much. I have seen too much. I am young, and I have the stories of seven generations. And worst of all, I have seen that it is all, now, normal. Please, please, let me urge you to beware.