It always concerns me the amount of so-called ‘Christians’ who spend their time throwing mud at other Christian ministries, claiming that so-and-so is a false prophet or spreading heresy. Jesus does call us to discern ministries (by their fruit) but to go beyond this and place a judgment on a person is something we are strongly commanded to NOT do (see my previous BLOG post 'Discern, Don't Judge).
To quote my previous post, Derek Prince recommends five key things that we should look for when discerning whether any church, ministry or so-called “move of God” is genuine or not (from his booklet Uproar in the Church published by Derek Prince Ministries). Here they are:
- The fruit of repentance. Are people turning from sin to God?
- Respect for the Scriptures. Is God’s Word being respected, valued and taught?
- Exaltation of Jesus. Is Jesus being lifted up and magnified?
- Love for other Christians. Is there a growing love for other believers?
- Loving concern for the unreached. Is there a focus on reaching people for Christ?
Not everything you read on the Internet or in the media is true. Having been quoted (or should I say misquoted) by the media myself, I can tell you that not everything you read is true or the whole truth. Charles Finney once defined ‘slander’ as ‘telling the truth in such as way as to give a lying impression.’ There is a lot of that around today!
Rick Warren is an example of a prominent pastor and church leader who frequently comes under attack for something (in Australia we call it the ‘tall poppy syndrome’ – always cutting down the ones who stick out a bit). Take a moment to read Ed Stetzer's recent interview with Rick Warren. It's a good example of a church leader having to qualify and explain some of the recent slander that he has had to endure. It is a good learning experience for all of us.
Yes, truth is important but none of us have the corner on all of it. Truth is found in a person, Jesus Christ, not in my particular perspective on any matter or issue. When in doubt, dialogue. Enter the conversation, with a desire to grow and learn more as we pursue Christ together. Learn how to disagree ... agreeably. You can be right in your doctrine and wrong in your attitude and you are wrong. Knowledge can tend puff people up in pride up while love always seeks to build up.
Let's get on with loving one another as Christ loves us (something Jesus said would be THE apologetic that we are truly his followers) and reaching out to a world that desperately needs to see and hear the good news of Jesus Christ.