I want to write a piece about rebuking – within the body of Christ in particular; the how to, when to and so on. This is a difficult subject, and I’ll try to be concise, however I have a story to share and it’s vital.
I was a Kinesiologist when I started visiting my local baptist church. I had lots of questions about my work as far as God was concerned, and I had fully surrendered everything in my life to Him about a year before then. I was happy to stop that work if God wanted me to, but never got that feeling, in fact my business was booming!
At the baptist church, however, I was struggling to make connections. In fact, even though the pastor had put me through his baptism class he refused me baptism on that basis – that I hadn’t made enough connections within the congregation. I told him I had tried, but that people rejected my help.
He prayed for me and when it came to my work (and let’s face it, you can’t be doing the kind of work I was doing and not pick up on people’s feelings – he disapproved of my work, and he judged it silently) he would just ask God to ‘make Elisabeth’s work go… er… the way you want it to.’ Well it kept booming – and I kept on working.
Then something happened there – a lady who I was quite close to asked me if I really felt my work was what God wanted me to do, and I naturally said ‘Yes.’ The evidence I had, said exactly that, although I still felt somewhat uneasy about it. God seemed to be prospering it and me.
Another lady there who was very ill at the time, I offered to help her – I said that if her doctor couldn’t make progress she was welcome to come to me. She drew herself up in her chair, her face taking on the unmistakable expression of offense, and told me in no uncertain terms that she believed that ‘Doctors receive special information from God.’ That was just laughable, and I knew it, but I held my peace as I was shocked. She said to me that if the doctors couldn’t fix her and it was God’s will, she would remain in pain. She never once said anything about my work being wrong, and here’s why – no, she just looked offended and that was that. I left that church feeling deeply wounded and never went back. Swiftly they all fell out of touch with me, and I then with them, and that was that.
Then I went to the Vineyard church and there I received some simple acceptance from most with regards to my work, and I also met some wonderful people who were more like me. It felt good. I had one lady (now a dear friend) ask me about my work, but her approach, being an intellectual question, got answered intellectually, and that was that. Intellectual people tend to have thought of an answer to most questions, and I had for sure. At that time I felt very secure in my view.
However, after a few months with Vineyard, something happened there, and this took me away from Vineyard – I felt God take me out of that church. I kept in touch with my lovely friend, and at one point, after God had revealed to me what was going on in my work, and I had given it up, I invited my friend and two others I had been close to in our kinship group for dinner at my house. I shared with them that I had given up my work, and changed career. One of the others immediately said that she had ‘known it was wrong.’ Yet never said a word to me while I was in her kinship!
At that point I resolved to do something to address the issue of rebuking, because if we won’t do it, we’re risking the health of the church! The very body of Christ!
Let me give you an analogy – say your body picks up a pathogenic bacteria, and say that your immune system decides to stand to one side and not make a scene! This could be catastrophic to your health! Well the body of Christ is making the same mistake here in England – I don’t know about things where you are, and maybe when you’ve read this post through, you’ll let me know your experience of this.
I am hearing from a friend that Vineyard now advises those praying for others to avoid offending them – what good will that do? NOTHING!
So to the pastor who silently judged me, and to the lady who sat in offense, and to the one who stayed silent when she ‘knew it was wrong’, I give the following advice for the future:
When faced with something which you believe to be wrong and yet you know very little about, you need to assess the Christian where they are at. I suggest that if the person is obviously intellectual, that you approach through feelings. I say this because they will get under the ‘thinking of an answer’ part of the person. Avoiding an intellectual discussion is vital when dealing with an intellectual – you are not going to win an intellectual argument with an intellectual on their own ground unless you are equipped with far more knowledge of the subject – an emotional response makes for a more effective rebuke (or would have done, I think, for me, at any rate). I recommend you say something like this:
‘Something about what you are doing doesn’t feel right to me.’
‘Something troubles me in my spirit when you talk about your work.’
‘I don’t know much about what you are doing in your work, but it concerns be because of [name or quote scripture]’
If the person is obviously involved in things which are harmful, and which you know a lot about, that is a different thing, and then it is time to do two things: Firstly I recommend you draw a group from the church to pray regularly for that person. I also recommend that you speak to them in private with a witness present and be clear and be gentle. Tell them, using scripture, what is wrong with what they are doing – make it clear, but always speak from love. If the person disagrees with you, they are free to leave. If they aren’t sure whether you are right or wrong, well, the prayer group will be the best tool to help them.
What exactly was wrong with my Kinesiology work? I was working a lot at distance – that means that I was muscle testing myself to get information for clients far away to help their health. There are two things here I will cover.
Firstly, when God prepared me to see the truth, it was four and a half years after I had surrendered my work to Him – His timing is up to Him, but it would have perhaps speeded things up had I been approached in a way which was helpful, rather than given the silent treatment. When God had got me ready to see what was going on in my work, He had me fast, and then I could see the spirit who was bringing me the information from my clients. Once I rebuked the spirit and it left, I couldn’t get any more information for my client, and although I could muscle test, there was no point. I also then recalled information given to me through muscle testing clients who were present, and realised that there was potentially an aspect of divination in the work, because some of what their muscle testing told me could not be coming purely from their subconscious. I had to stop and I did, and I repented.
Secondly, and something I realised only later, was that sin is very often a cause of illness, and when you go to the doctor or you go to a healer, they are only dealing with the symptoms of sin, even if they are treating you ‘wholistically’ – getting rid of a problem in a meridian may deal with issues which are causing an allergy or an emotional issue, but if the cause of the problem in the meridian is demonic, or if it’s sin, you haven’t helped the person AT ALL – in fact they are only going to continue in that sin.
So lastly I want to thank the two people who did question my work – that was brave and I really appreciate it, even if I was so sure at the time I was right.
Loving rebuke – questioning, or simply stating that something feels wrong about something a person is doing is all the more crucial now, as the body of Christ moves towards ever greater temptation towards deception. I know that on at least two occasions I have been put where I should have rebuked and did not, so this piece is not coming from a place of being perfect, more that being on the receiving end of no rebuke was far less helpful than had someone said something.
Please share what your church does about rebuking – I think it’s vital that we do this, as long as we do so from love, and with compassion.
God Bless you