There’s a strong tendency in Western Christianity to provide people with spiritual techniques and tools, thereby making kingdom clinicians instead of birthing relational sons and daughters of Christ. The Church has more “how to” seminars and books than McDonald’s has French fries. You can give a devil a college education and a computer and he’s still a devil. We’re not called to produce competent devils. Biblical equipping is about the impartation of a right heart, the transformation of humanity into the image of Christ, not the transference of right information. It’s more than teaching someone the right stuff, and then—teaching more of the right stuff. We’ve been doing that for centuries. In our culture it has produced very mixed results. Right information is important, but it’s a question of sequence and priority. Right information planted in toxic soil produces deadly results.
My life has been enriched beyond measure through knowing some of the finest believers in God’s kingdom. However, some of the nastiest people I’ve met in my adult life were church going, Bible-toting, Bible-quoting Christians. Religious nastiness is gold medal nastiness.[i] I would rather work with unbelievers than hypocritical, know-it-all, self-righteous, Christians. At least with unbelievers you know what to expect and have an opportunity to introduce them to Christ. “Christians” who’ve been inoculated by religion from life in Christ, are unreachable because you can’t help those who already have all the answers and who are on a guilt-laden mission to make you twice the child of hell that they are.
My wife once worked with someone who was quite vocal in her Christianity. This individual was not bashful about sharing the “revelations” she received at a recent spiritual warfare seminar concerning demonology. Yet, she had been cohabiting and sleeping with her boyfriend for over two years and did not have a shred of conviction about it until my wife firmly, but tactfully, confronted her. This person invited my wife to her conservative, evangelical, megachurch to hear her “wonderful pastor!” Mmmm . . . no thanks. How can this happen? It happens when correct information is dumped on a hardened soul week after week with no prophetic voice in the faith community. It’s the logical outcome of the cross-less, conversion-less, counterfeit gospel that is preached with regularity across our land today.
I know of another situation where a woman (the wife of a former associate pastor), committed adultery with her boss. When she was confronted about it she said: “I wanted to lead him to the Lord” – seriously, I’m not joking. That’s novel. Fornicating for Jesus. Sadly, it’s another example of what year after year of information transference instead of heart transformation produces.
The issue isn’t about being judgmental where sin or human weakness is concerned. The issue is trying to explain the utter lack of conviction among those who profess to be His. One of the signs of being regenerated is conviction of sin. If that’s not present, we’re not yet dealing with a converted soul. We might be dealing with a Bible-believing religious person, but not a converted soul.
A cold heart and a highlighted Bible is a bad combination. It’s the essence of evil because it’s an incarnated misrepresentation of God, like someone we know from Genesis: “Yea, hath God said . . .? Genuine biblical equipping means I facilitate an encounter between another human being and the Risen Lord. From that Truth encounter, a relationship is birthed (or deepened). From that relationship spiritual understanding develops, which eventually affects behavior.
[i] It’s akin to murder. The logical end of religion is murder. In our culture we will be satisfied with slander and destroying a person’s character and reputation.
This is an excerpt from our book, Healing: Hope or Hype? Copyright 2009 Stephen R. Crosby. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.