Many times over the years in my Pente churches, I was taught that as Christians, filled with the Holy Spirit, we have an access to the divine Creator that no unsaved person has. Therefore, we (the church) should be able to produce results that are more amazing, more creative, more wonderful than a non-saved person can.
A couple of examples – worship music. Our original music, because of the indwelling and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, had the potential to be at least equal to, and ultimately better than, music ‘of the world’. Another example – as a creative person, your designs, whether they be engineering, business, architectural, graphic or whatever, all had this greater potential.
There was an aspiration for great achievements. We were encouraged to settle for nothing less. This was sometimes kind of difficult, when despite praying and putting in every effort, you might produce good work, but not the amazing top of the league stuff that you felt could be achieved if you really heard from God during the process. Of course, there were some very talented people to be seen within the church, in their different fields, but the result of being clearly better than anyone ‘in the world’ (or even ‘as good as’ at times) was somewhat elusive. Plus to be honest, while sometimes the music was excellent, somehow I could always point to something just as or more impressive ‘in the world’ – the church didn’t seem to have this outstanding ‘betterness’ in its achievements that it preached should be achievable in theory.
I did test this out myself. I certainly put my best efforts in. Despite achieving competence, praying with all my heart, and giving my absolute best efforts, being the best was (to be honest) not something that I could achieve when comparing myself with the top students at university or the greatest professionals in my field. Although by the time I finished uni I had realised that there might be some problems with this doctrine! Being competent, professional, doing a good job and delivering exceptional client service certainly were achievable – it was just this notion of access to the ultimate Creator delivering the ideal of the ultimate result that seemed elusive.
And one other thing – tithing my time didn’t seem to work either. Strangely. The idea here was that time spent on ‘God’, or church related activities, would be returned to me ten or one hundred fold, so my work or study would not suffer as a result of spending time on those particular other things. In fact my work should in theory be blessed as a result.
So why is this stuff taught? And why is it so important? Does the Bible emphasis that the body of Christ should deliver the ultimate achievements in a material sense?
Danny Nalliah’s comments to the students at Lighthouse Christian College (highlighted on Lance’s blog) reminded me of all this, when he urged the kids to be doctors, not nurses; directors, not clerks, and leaders, not followers. This could be a great way for a church to have more power in society, but is it what God wants for us?
Is it OK if you find that you are not in a ‘significant’ job; not producing ‘amazing’ results, though putting in your best and competent effort; and in fact growing in the fruit of the Spirit and following the Lord in your daily life – but perhaps in a quieter kind of a way. If it is OK – why do we hear so much that says otherwise from these people looked up to by many as leaders in the Christian walk? Are they denying the real world for many people and will it come back to bite their followers? Does it even matter?