I love to talk to young people about spiritual matters. For reasons only God knows, I can connect with people younger than my own children with very little, or no problem at all. And, as a matter of fact, the other day I had one of those interesting conversations with my friend, Henry.
After attending a mega church for the first time, Henry called with a question about a phenomenon that had taken place at the Sunday service. He wanted to know what I thought about the supposed “gold dust” that had appeared in the atmosphere and landed on people during the worship time.
Before I go any further, I know that some of you might be already hot under the collar even at the mention of the phrase, “gold dust” because gold dust is not mentioned in the Bible. Fair enough! By the way, neither is dating, yet I wonder, as the Bible says, how many of my dear friends allowed their parents to choose mates for them? In any case, I promise this post isn’t about the validity or lack of such appearances, but it’s about the outcome of them.
“I have no objections to this phenomenon. I’ve been around these appearances since 1995. I don’t care if they got gold dust coming out of their ears. However, what I have issues with is what they do with it after they leave their gold dust meetings? How is this helping them share the Gospel with those outside the faith?” I told him.
My answer had a lot to do with a discussion I’d earlier had with a young Christian leader whose organization operates in these appearances and prophetic gifts with a great emphasis on worship/loving God.
I’d mentioned to him that Christ’s greatest two commandments to us is to love God and with that love to love our neighbors. That we should use the God-given gifts of the Spirit as tools in sharing the Gospel with a lost world. His answer rather stunned me, “Our ministry is called to fulfill the first part of the commandment—loving God in worship— and not the second!” I didn’t know Christ’s greatest commandment to his disciples could be parsed so decisively. Maybe it’s my English, but I always thought it was called “the great commandment” and not “the great YOU pick and choose”.
In the last 20 years, I’ve spent much of my life focusing on “centering prayer” and intimacy with God, but always with one goal in mind… using what I gain in being closer to my Creator to invite those who don’t know him to follow suit. What are all the worship, prophecies, and intimacy with God going to do for the Kingdom if we don’t love our neighbors through our love for God?
Some might argue that the purpose of the gifts is to strengthen the body of Christ, but to what end? Why do we need to be stronger if it’s not to be better followers of Christ in doing all that He’s commanded us? I have a hard time believing that He allows us to experience some of these manifestations just to make us feel good, which eventually causes some of our gatherings to become nothing but “bless me” clubs. I can’t help but be reminded of James’ admonition, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:3)
As the technician starts hooking me up to the Echocardiogram machine in my cardiologist’s office, I begin to ask her questions. This is the first time I meet Shirin (It’s pronounced Shee-reen), my Iranian technician. My questions are mainly about her personal life– questions like how long she’s been in the US, how old she was when she came here, where she was born in Iran, where she went to school and so on.
As I’m talking to her, I’m also praying for the Lord to show me what kind of questions to ask in order to establish trust. To me, the main ingredient for a long lasting relation is winning people’s trust. “No trust, no real relationship!” is my motto. It is to that end that I’m praying.
As I close my eyes, I see a picture. I ask Shirin,
“Are you facing making a big decision in your life?”
She shows no reaction and turns her back on me.
“Boy, I must have blown it,” was my first thought.
Then she turned around and said,
“I don’t like my job. I’m a graphic artist. This is what my parents want me to do. I’d like to leave this job and start being an artist again.”
Then she looks at me and says, “How did you know? Did I give off a vibe?”
I chuckle! “No vibes! It was God, who loves you so much, who uses a total stranger to tell you that He cares for you. In fact, He wants you to know that when you jump, not one parachute, not two parachutes, but He will provide you with three parachutes to make sure you land safely.”
With tears in her eyes, she says, “All I needed was a push.”
The picture I was given was of her standing on the edge of a flying airplane door debating whether she should jump or not.
After the exam, I go to my car and get her one of my books and leave.
This is what I call using the gifts of the Spirit to share the Good News with people you come in contact with every day.
How do you use your God given gifts?