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Cutting Through the Fluff: Straight Talk on Charismatic Gifts

Hey there! Let's have a friendly yet challenging conversation about an intriguing topic that's been on my mind lately: the trend of churches focusing heavily on charismatic gifts, especially the gift of tongues. According to recent surveys, growing churches seem to put a major emphasis on this aspect, even to the point of offering classes and encouraging everyone to speak in tongues. But is this really in line with the Biblical examples, or has it become more of a church growth strategy that seems far from the genuine intent?

It's fascinating how many people are drawn to things that appear too good to be true. You know, those promises like "Make 6 figures in 2 weeks" or "Lose weight without exercise!" We've all seen them, and most of us roll our eyes and dismiss them as scams. But not everyone. There are many people out there genuinely searching for solutions, desperate for a way out of their struggles. They long for something that will magically transform their lives and offer a quick fix to their problems. Unfortunately, many end up investing time and money into things that don't deliver what they truly need, leaving them feeling embarrassed, tired, and even more frustrated than before.

Now, let's talk about how some popular churches may unintentionally (or intentionally) feed into this desire for quick fixes. They often appeal to people's emotions, targeting their perceived needs, and promoting a certain way of doing things that promises a heightened experience or feeling. But is that what genuine discipleship is all about? So many churches are far too concerned with growing their organization, with momentum, with how it feels in the room, with how people feel... They have to feel something. They have to feel the power. They have to feel the "spirit" flowing through the crowd. Much the way a crowd "feels" at a Taylor Swift concert. A blend of frenzied up over the environment and star-struck.

But where did this gift originate? Let's revisit the origins of the gift of tongues as described in the New Testament. At Pentecost, God performed a miraculous act, enabling people to speak different languages, and fostering communication among individuals from various regions. It was a powerful display of God's presence, and it made complete sense in its context.

Imagine traveling from French Speaking Quebec to Mexico for a pilgrimage. Arriving there you quickly realize that you're not in Quebec anymore. It's been days since you heard a word spoken in French apart from the few friends that traveled there with you. Then in the distance you hear what sounded like a jet airplane taking off in the middle of the square - everyone heard it. And now you join the crowds running towards this sound. The closer you get, the more the electricity is building, coming back from the front of the crowds with excited faces shouting things you can't understand. Then as you keep fighting your way forward you are near the square and you hear something that grabs your attention. You hear people in the square speaking in French. The closer you get the more you can make out what they're saying. Testifying about Jesus. And sharing their own shock and wonder at how God is helping them speak to you in a language they never knew how to speak just moments before. As you look around you see countless other people engaged in what looks like the same kinds of awestruck conversations. Then, up on a rooftop a man walks out and begins to shout for the attention of all. This man goes on to explain what's happening - and the man in front of you translates his speech for you in French so you don't miss a word! This is speaking in tongues or other languages. They were real languages. It was miraculously given and understood. It made sense.

Is speaking in tongues real? Yes. Is it something that shows up in the Bible after Pentecost? Yes. Paul writes about it often. He also gives some clear guidelines for this gift, recognizing that left unchecked it would get weird really fast. Paul is also the one that said "But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue." 1 Cor 14.19.

If you were traveling to a foreign country where people spoke a different language, would it be awesome for God to miraculously give you the ability to speak in their language? Heck yes! If you're sitting in church and during worship the person behind you starts rambling off a bunch of gibberish that makes no sense and is clearly not any real language is that good for you or those around you? Nope. Maybe it makes the gibberish speaker feel good somehow, but those spectacles are of no value to the church or to the heart of what it takes to help others grow as disciples.

But it seems like some churches today have strayed from the genuine meaning of this gift. They encourage people to desire the ability to babble on in some made-up gibberish, undulating their voices like auctioneers selling nonsense. This is not in line with the biblical examples, and it's important to recognize that unchecked use of this gift can get weird really fast.

At The Journey Church, we take a different approach. We believe in real discipleship – a slow and arduous journey of learning and growing as followers of Jesus. We don't focus on flashy experiences or temporary fixes; instead, we strive to build deep relationships and a supportive community where genuine spiritual growth can happen.

If you're tired of empty promises and are genuinely seeking a place where you can experience authentic discipleship, consider getting involved with us at The Journey Church. We have a group of passionate individuals who would love to connect with you, study the Bible together, and help you mature as a follower of Jesus. Don't settle for quick fixes or empty sensations. Join us today and embark on a meaningful journey of growth and transformation. Let's walk this path together!

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Thank you for this…I get a little hot under the collar when I see how prevalent this deceptive teaching is, Satan is a deceiver and a liar, and knows how to manipulate. Focusing on feelings instead of faith, its kind of like a gateway drug, to lead away from Jesus and focus on the self. Whether it be the practice of charismatic tongues or the practice of “ gay positive” churches its all about being pulled away from Christ than being drawn to Christ.

Jan 19
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Very good analogy - the gateway drug "feelings" pulls people away from Jesus and focus on self. So True! Thanks for sharing your thoughts

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