Just because it says God, doesn’t mean it is God!
As Americans, we are surrounded with things that claim to be from God or have a huge “Christian” label on it. Businesses, not for profit organizations, books, and even facebook statuses make this claim daily. After all, we are a “christian” nation, aren’t we?
(my personal favorite: “I would like to first thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for winning the grammy for my single, ‘slappin’ dem h@*$'” – not a real song, but close! (update: I wrote this post several weeks ago, but had not posted it yet. Then just this past week, Mr. “Ditty Dirty Money” (p. diddy) performed on American Idol and was asked to give some advice to the contestants. I honestly don’t know what most of his advice was. I was only half paying attention. Then he finished with “… and always keep God first”. Now, I don’t want to sound too judging here, but really?! Thank you, Mr. Money for living out this principle. Every time I hear “diddy dirty money” I feel drawn into the presence of God!)
But everyone who claims the name of Christ is not a part of His movement.
Recently, I came across and interesting story in Acts 16.
One day, on our way to the place of prayer, a slave girl ran into us. She was a psychic and, with her fortunetelling, made a lot of money for the people who owned her. She started following Paul around, calling everyone’s attention to us by yelling out, “These men are working for the Most High God. They’re laying out the road of salvation for you!” She did this for a number of days until Paul, finally fed up with her, turned and commanded the spirit that possessed her, “Out! In the name of Jesus Christ, get out of her!” And it was gone, just like that. –Acts 16:16-18 (MSG)
Wow! The first thing that jumps out at me from this story are the girl’s words. “These men are working for the Most High God. They’re laying out the road of salvation for you!” What she was saying was the exact truth! She was their biggest fan at that moment, drawing everyone’s attention to Paul and his fellow missionaries. So, why did Paul get so annoyed with her?
I think we can take a couple things from this story:
1. Someone can scream “God” and be filled with satan.
From satan’s point of view, this was a brilliant technique to discredit what Paul was preaching. Here is this psychic girl who goes around trying to tell people’s futures. Everyone knows who she is. I am guessing she has a very poor reputation from walking the streets, bugging people to get their money. And then Paul shows up. What better way to ruin Paul’s testimony than to have this girl be their greatest marketing tool.
I’ll put it this way: I love Andy Stanley. He is doing great things in the Church and for church leaders. But if Dionne Warwick put out a new infomercial saying that her and Andy were best friends and going around preaching his same message, I would start to wonder how legit his ministry actually is.
And so Paul casts out the demon. He couldn’t take it anymore. He had to expose the evil. I think many times we will not be able to expose the evil like Paul did. I don’t think that is our job. But we should be constantly measuring things against Scripture so we can detect those who merely claim God for their own selfish motives.
2. Even if you are from God, quit screaming!
Another reason Paul could have been annoyed is that this girl was yelling out her message everywhere they went. One time at work, I was trying to encourage a non-believing friend to go to church. (a church that I did not attend, but I knew it was a good church and close to where he lived) This would be a huge step in his faith journey. He is searching. But I made a critical mistake: “Yea, ask our co-worker. I think she goes there.” This seems innocent enough, but this co-worker is immature and overbearing. I didn’t take the time to process that fact in my mind.
For the next week, that co-worker told that guy to try that church EVERY time she saw him! If I wasn’t a Christian already, I wouldn’t have gone to church! It was so freakin’ annoying! and guess what? That dude STILL hasn’t gone to church.
So, please proclaim the name of Christ! Tell people your story!
JUST STOP BEING A JERK ABOUT IT!
So, what do you think? What are some ways we can tell if someone is truly from God or just satan’s decoy?