One of the most fascinating characteristics about God that I know – in fact I use this as my test for authenticity as to whether God is involved or not in a certain activity (1John, 2John – testing the spirits) – is that no matter what is happening, God is a gentleman. He never intrudes, never takes away your mentall senses of control, never strips you of your identity and supplants it with another – in other words, in following God, you are given responsibilities, yet you manage those responsibilities under your own personality and identity. God knows who you are, said you were made good, and asks you to serve Him as He made you.
I have seen people “drunk in the Spirit.” They had all the outward signs of drunkenness – slurring of speech, inability to walk etc. – afterwards we asked him about his senses. He described a very surreal experience where he had lost complete control of his body, but his mind was crystal clear, not impaired at all, and knew that he was being completed consumed by the Holy Spirit – who he asked to come in and fill him. I wonder if this was something like the day of Pentecost when the people thought they were drunk – and even though the physical sight may have indicated, the way Peter declared the truth of the moment, you know that there was complete presence of mind – that combination caused many to be followers of Jesus that day.
My walk in the church started when I was ten years old and our neighbour asked if we could come to the Presbyterian Church with them. At twelve, our family attended a Kathryn Khulman service where we made a commitment to serve God as a family. Started to then attend a Missionary Church down the street from where we lived. Four years later, they moved, that left us one option – a Pentecostal church that had a bus ministry. During a very difficult period of time as a teenager, we decided to go to the Fellowship Baptist Church in town – that moved saved our lives. After a couple of years we moved again (we moved, as a family, every two years) and found ourselves trying out the Pentecostal church again and then later an independent Charismatic church. That last church would be my church home and the church I would find myself employed in Christian Education and youth pastoring. My wife and I were married then, and when we moved from our apt. to our first home, we tried the Pentecostal Church for a few months, but really enjoyed the Alliance Church in town. An experience there (after testing the spirit) caused us to find some peace in the Nazarene Church for four years. As our own children came into the world, we made sure they both attended the Awana Program in our local Baptist Church, even when we switched back to the Pentecostal Church, which became our permanent church home for the next 15 years. However, as our children entered their teenage years, similar to my experience, they needed something more – my son found a church family waiting for him at a local AGC Church and my daughter went back to the Baptist Church where she went through the Awana Program. Let me add the last piece – my wife is Catholic.
All this to say – no matter where I went, I served and followed Christ as “me.” All the churches had slightly different profiles, they occupied different kinds of land in Christendom, they pitched their ministries a little bit differently, they had different logos and banners representing their denominations – but they all followed one – the Lord God. Under His banner, He wanted them to be unique and special, meeting the needs of individuals who went through unique and special experiences in their life. Through our journey, our family has learned that who we are is not the denomination that we belong to (understanding we will be bent, theologically to that direction), but who we are in Christ.
That is why today I spend most of my time declaring the principles of God’s Word to people – so they know who they are in Christ. When a counterfeit spirit comes along and wishes to take them away, they can say…hmm…that does not look like God and shut it down.
Keeping your identity – the person God created – is important. You will grow as a person of God, becoming more holy, more like Christ each day, but God will always work through you – the person He created. You will serve with purpose because you know who you are in Christ.