One of the hardest things in my job is seeing people go over the edge.
Literally, when someone is sent to to lockdown in a mental health ward because of hyper spiritual behaviour.
People that you love and care about deeply at times.
Religion is one of those things that can great peace, comfort and hope.. It can change lives, it can give people the power to be transformed. History is littered with the stories. Slave traders became the people who inspired others to break the back of slavery because of the influence of Jesus Christ. The dying in Calcutta were cared for regardless of religion or caste.. Drug addicts were reformed. Women were given the opportunity to come of the sex trade. And sometimes people are miraculously healed.
But when religion goes bad, the question is are the practitioners going mad or are they under the influence of something?
There are the narcissists who are sociopathic by flawed design, upbringing or choice who seek to gain influence, power and sexual gratification. When these people fall, the result can be deadly for their followers. And the world is full of cults started by this type of personailty.
There are the mentally ill, who simply need medication, correct care and prayer. And at some time, past, present or future most of us have/are/will suffer bouts of depression, anxiety or some type of post traumatic stress or stress related illness. The statistics suggest you are in the presence of someone right now who needs support through this.
And then there is something otherworldy that happens at times. Like the times when it goes bad and there are phenomenon that are hard to explain around it.
When we have had conflict between Christians at Church, something else seems to step in. At first you think you are imagining it. But when multiple colleagues confer, share stories, discuss facts, that you start to realise something very odd is happening.
Every time conflict arose between two parties in our Church, poltergiest like activity occurred. Things were thrown around. Strange beings were seen in the building. Voices were heard calling out, especially to the cleaning staff. Then it would die down. As soon as the conflict arose and there was a meeting in the building, it would start again.
I'm not apportioning personal blame to any of the people involved, but something seemed to be attracted to the conflict.
This week, very sadly, I saw an intelligent, articulate, passionate and strong Christian tip over the edge. And I could see it coming.
He had undoubtably and medically experienced miraculous healing. But things started to become obsessive. Obsession with the end times. Obsession with the occult. Obsession with the Illuminati. Obsession with satanists working in all industries. All day and night were spent studying the Bible. There was only one version that was from God. Everything else was deisgned and printed by the devil. Not a new idea in fundamentalist Christianity but a common thread when people start to 'come under the influence' is a very rigid and unchangeable approach to the above listed area's.
He started to share stories of seeing black figures appearing in his room. Holding him down in bed.
Was this mental illness or was something else starting to get involved that was not the Holy Spirit?
Then he declared that Jesus was returning that night and it started to go 'pear shaped in the worst possible way, with the Police having to become involved'. Again, was this the trauma of an injury, lack of medication or the influence of something else?
Jesus did not return that night, like so many other people who have made the claim that only they have that knowledge.
And like every time that claim is made wrongly, the skeptics scoff and rightly so. With the best of intentions, our personal witness is destroyed, people become dissillusioned and walk away from the faith. A perfect trojan horse to kill, steal and destroy faith in Jesus' real return at some indeterminable time.
This type of thing is sadly more common than you would think. The internet is full of people who are now too spiritual for any earthly use. And the symptoms include:
- Being a self declared prophet who is the only one who can hear Gods voice.
- Declaring themselves as one of the 'two witnesses' of revelation.
- Considering demons to be behind every social ailment, taking away people's free will and personal sin.
- Claiming to hear God's voice and providing aggressive and arrogant words of knowledge.
- Being the 'gatekeeper' of the Church who has the only correct doctrine.
- Being the only 'interpreter' of the Bible.
- Controlling the flock and preventing social interaction outside the church with the threat of 'losing their salvation'.
- Declaring salvation can only come through 'their Church', 'their teaching' or their 'priesthood'.
And so on and so on. That's not to say that people don't have those gifts. But satan is the one who appears as an angel of light. He's the deciever. And when he deceives Christian through hyper religious behaviour and hyper spirituality, the Church gets taken out from the inside. No Church ever closed because of athiests in this country. Churches in the west are destroyed from the inside out. Infiltrated and decimated.
We are told to test the spirits. They are all not from God. Not every feeling, sense or inner monologue is God speaking.
Jesus is returning and we don't know the hour or day. Let's focus on what He wants us to do today, including buying fair trade items, feeding the poor, inclusion of the outcasts and the practical aspects of faith as well as prayer, meditation on the Word and spiritual warfare, which He fights for us.
God bless you - Pastor Baz.