I've Been Thinking...

I’VE BEEN THINKING........ about how many Christian denominations have taught and influenced my life. I was taught about salvation, daily discipline and the basic Four Spiritual Laws gospel message though the college outreach groups, Intervarsity, Navigators, Campus Crusade for Christ, and the local Baptist church. These brothers and sisters pursued me at a time when I was not wanting to be followed, yet desperately need to be rescued.

Later, I met the Charismatic people. They opened the door and understanding to praise and worship as aggressive activity, not a passive religion, in order to bombard the spiritual world. Suddenly I was not just singing songs, I was sending out waves of messages throughout the spiritual world. I was establishing safety zones against enemy fire in the air space above, just by praising and exalting the name of the living God. But more importantly, these people taught me to meet God. I could actually go into His throne room and do business and come away changed.

During this period I also ran into the Pentecostals. As I understand church history, this group of worshipers had their birthing time right around 1906, when suddenly God began to renew and bring back spiritual gifts and activities that where never truly gone, but had just fallen into disuse. I was exposed to healings, visions, dreams, words of knowledge, and a most useful gift, the ability to speak in the tongues of angels. The spiritual world was populated to me now. The world around me became not just what I could see with my eyes, but also what I could sense in the spirit.

I also saw some weird things. I experienced a person under the control of a demon spirit for the first time. That’s when I became convinced speaking in tongues was not a farce. Because I saw the person respond visibly as I spoke very quietly in what is called a heavenly language. What could not be heard with the natural ears, was heard with supernatural ears. And the demon controlling this person could not be comfortable around this kind of prayer.

I am very thankful to my Catholic brothers and sisters as well, because they taught me a message that I desperately needed to hear later on. I’m a workaholic by upbringing. I identify self-worth with activity, and accomplishment. I have reasonable abilities in several different fields, so I think of new projects and activities almost daily. I nearly destroyed my family, not with evil but by trying to do too much, all the time, with no rest.

A Catholic brother taught me it was all right to sit, to rest, to meditate, to be. Being a godly person, comes before doing. Tasting the life of being a Christian, rather than doing the Christian thing, was a transforming message. I need it still daily. To be in Christ, and walk when He walks, but sit when He sits is for me an ongoing discipline. Jesus is the full man, never in a hurry, never late. I have so much to learn.

From my Presbyterian friends I learned a respect for study, and knowledge. I’m not a polished speaker. I’m comfortable to trust my inspiration, be led by the Spirit, as we like to say in some churches. But inspiration without serious research into the information and knowledge that has already been given to the church, often leads down a wild rabbit hole and does not build the kingdom of God.

The influence of the story of the Methodists and John Wesley has also been an inspiration and model for the training young people to me. I have been to many Methodist churches, though I’ve never attended long enough to say I’d become a member. Yet, it seems that through each denomination I’ve met and been involved with I’ve learn yet another facet or portion of the same Christian life that I read about in the Bible.

I personally use the name interdenominational when referring to myself, yet to many people this has also become another denomination. What started as a bridge to many churches can become in itself yet one more wall of isolation between churches. It seems to me no one person, church, or denomination has the whole full gospel. We each get a slice of the pie, and there is more than enough to share and go around. Could it be in this next generation we’ll find the ability the learn from each other and celebrate our differences? The process might bring a revival in our own hearts, if not in our nations.

I’m not an expert, I’m still very much a beginner whether it be in reaching the lost for Christ, living an overcoming life, walking in the praises of God’s people, understanding the history and teaching of the church fathers, or in the art of being. Christ was able to live in the Father and the Father in Him. That includes all of life, and no one person, and no one organization has the whole picture, as Jesus did. I personally think we need to learn from each other.

© 2002, Warren Okerman