"Spirit led," or just an excuse?

There's a terrible danger in the way we Christians credit God and the Holy Spirit for our actions.

I often imagine how strange it must be, both for people outside of the church and for those outside of the denominational or ecclesiological bent, to hear us when we talk about when we say "I'm being spirit led," or other things of that nature. "The Holy Spirit told me to..." such and such.

Of course, I have to acknowledge a disclaimer that as Christians, we regularly say things about Jesus/God that are just as problematic - "I felt God leading me here - God told me to do this - God wants you to vote Republican."

How does anyone substantiate such grandiose faith-claims?

But I still believe some of them are true. Maybe not voter instructions, but direction? Guidance? Inspiration? Caution? Wisdom? Peace?

Yes, I believe the Holy Spirit is quite active, even supernaturally, in our lives. That said, I think the Holy Spirit gets abused, regularly - blamed (or credited, however you want to say it) for our gut-level decisions.

When I was younger, the Holy Spirit told me I was going to be a famous actor.

In middle school, the Holy Spirit told me Rush Limbaugh was the smartest man alive.

In high school, the Holy Spirit prophesied my marriage to at LEAST a dozen attractive young ladies...

"The Holy Spirit" has been wildly inconsistent for me.

I've also seen a lot of horrible things done by others in the name of the Spirit. Or less dramatically, I've been at head-to-head odds with other strong believers over matters of faith - each of us certain of the Spirit's wisdom leading us to our conclusion and horrified that the other could be so deeply mistaken.

On the other hand, there are times when, beyond "gut," I've known something was wrong, or felt compelled to do something beyond my own desires or reasoning. In retrospect, I think God is behind everything that is good and true in the world and in life. Sometimes that's very humdrum and sometimes it's quite extraordinary. But I'm learning (for myself at least) how important it is to be cautious about crediting "The Spirit" for things.

My human perspective is pretty limited, even with the Spirit of the Living God inside of me.

read more about my thoughts on Christianity in the real world at www.essenceproject.blogspot.com...


Rob Rose said...

I agree totally with this post. I have recently given up on comments such as "God told me to.." or "God showed me that.." Even when I preach, I avoid things like calling it "God's message" (referring to my sermon) or things like "this is what God has to say to us here today."

I heard Walter Brueggemann once say that taking the Lord's name in vain is not saying "G*d D*mm*t" when we slam our finger in a door, but rather, it is using the name of God to endorse or bless our personal pet project or messages.

2Pete said...

Whoa, great Brueggemann quotation Rob! I'm going to use that, if you don't mind!

Thanks for the visit!

rob rose said...


...I like all the stuff you have to say.


thepxii said...

This is great. I just discovered Emerging Christianity on The Ooze online magazine, and it lines up closely with what God has been putting on the hearts of me and my husband! And we thought we were the only ones!

Brian Francis Hume said...

So where is the balance? There is definitely wisdom in the things you write about concerning our inclination to stamp our messages with "God said..." Yet, there is a very REAL, active Holy Spirit who does REALLY speak. I think God is raising up a generation of holy, consecrated, broken vessels who are willing to speak when God speaks and be still when the heavens are quiet.

Looking forward to reading more of your work. I am also a fan of Leonard Sweet.


Brian Francis Hume

wit4life said...

Hey Pete- just wanted to let you and ya'll know I've been exploring a new paradigm for prayer based on Brother Lawrence, (and others). Hope you can take a peek. Keep on brother.


How's the filthy Mac?

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