Being a life-long (now semi-lapsed) charismatic believer, I have seen a lot of things: some wonderful; some horrid. Many years ago I was imprinted by a powerful lesson about kingdom life beyond the boundaries of doctrinal understanding.
When I was pastoring in a traditional setting, someone came highly recommended to me as a “prophet.” Well, even in those days, I had already seen and experienced enough garbage to be wary, but based on the trust I had for the person making the recommendation, I took a chance and invited the brother to minister at the local assembly.
I was delighted.
The brother was the proverbial real-deal, a blessing: a staggering level of love-saturated, objective, non-manipulative, non-hyped, non-generic, accurate ministry in personal prophecy and the laying on of hands. Yes, the Gnostic, phony-baloney, controlling, witchcraft, new-age, and personality-cult stuff is out there in abundance and should be avoided like a bad case of the shingles. However, just because there are rotten apples in the apple barrel, doesn’t mean I swear off eating apples.
When the gift (any gift) is the real deal, it’s the real deal! It is just a shame that the real deal can be so rare, but then, that is the definition of treasure, isn’t it? We are going to have to shovel a lot of dirt to find it. A treasure buried in a pile of manure is still a treasure–just got to get past the manure. If we have no appetite for shoveling s______t, it is unlikely we will ever experience the treasure. (Proverbs 14:4).
Well, he comes to my wife and lays hands on her. He had been flowing along quite effortlessly up to that point, and then he stopped. I could see he was struggling, trying to process something. Then he says something like this:
“Well, I have a dilemma. The Spirit of the Lord is telling me to prophesy something to you that I do not believe is biblically accurate. I don’t believe in what I am about to prophesy.”
You see, in this brother’s “theological construct,” women in leadership or “governmental” ministry was forbidden. Yet he couldn’t deny what the Spirit was telling him about Rita. He then proceeded to prophesy a spot-on, accurate, word about my wife’s gifts and callings as a leader in the ekklesia.
Well, my respect for him, which was already pretty good based on the little I had seen, shot through the roof. I don’t know if I had ever seen such a high level of “prophetic integrity” in operation, in this sense: He submitted his mind, intellectual constructs, and understandings of “the Bible,” to the administration of the Spirit. The Spirit of the Lord IS the Spirit who is Lord OF, and OVER the Bible. Not in contradiction to the Bible, but bigger than my understanding of the Bible!
This is the way it is supposed to be. God has the right to be bigger than my understanding of Him at any particular moment in time. I have found Him to be precisely so, my entire life. My mind can be used to engage God and His ways, but my mind is not my God. The difference is subtle, and important. If, in our pursuit of “truth,” there is no allowance for God to function outside of our mental understanding of Him, we have a very small God.
This is an example of stepping outside the limitations of one’s own understanding of what one thinks one understands, “from the Bible.” God is not subordinate to my mind. My mind submits to His Word, and His Spirit.
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