Monday, July 13, 2009

"I Don't Believe In That" by Garris Elkins

My dear friend in Central Oregon, Jim Stephens, writes some profound things on his daily devotional. A few months ago Jim wrote that he was not going to use the word “awesome” anymore, except to describe God. Jim's commitment on personal vocabulary is such a wise word in a world where we say, “I love hot dogs and baseball” in the same breath that we say we love God or our family. In our haphazard use of words we sometimes dilute their true meaning.

A few months ago I had a conversation with someone who was in a meeting where the person leading the service was moving in a free and bold approach to God. Physical healings were taking place and people were being set free – some people even fell over under the power of God.

When God moves in unusual ways sometimes people will say, “I don't believe in that!” They might be focusing on the style of what is taking place and not the substance of what God is actually doing. We all do this from time to time. When something different is happening around us that is new and maybe even uncomfortable, we want to find a place to position that experience so we can deal with it. Sometimes we say, “I don't believe in that!,” but really we are saying, “I am uncomfortable.”

Today, I have been processing how to respond better to people when they make such comments. The next time someone says to me, “I don't believe in that!” I would like to be more nurturing in my response. Maybe I could respond with words like these, “You just said that you don't believe in what you just saw. Maybe we should reserve the word 'belief' for things that deal with the person of God, His Son, the Holy Spirit, and the way of salvation. Maybe our use of the word 'believe' is getting confused with what we like, don't like, or even feel comfortable with.”

As I reread some of the Early Church creeds recently, the authors were wise enough to keep the creeds simple and focused on God and His Church instead of linking “belief” to personal preferences that can be jaded with our fears and human experience, or the lack of.

Just a thought.


  1. Very true, Garris. Sometimes it seems that I run into that struggle myself with how our particular denomination has gravitated and how I have been swayed by the comfort levels of others. I'm learning... AGAIN... that God isn't all that concerned with my comfort levels. I'm happy to say that God is moving in spite of my comfort levels and instead is listening to the cry of my heart... for more of Him and less of me.


  2. Wow... That's really good! Ive come to this realization before, the first time I saw some of the manifestations of the Spirit that I had never seen before. They do make you uncomfortable, like you always say, as God is stretching you. If we sit there and say, "I don't believe in this," we're sticking God in a box.
    I heard a quote once that said, "We hate what we're afraid of, and we're afraid of what we don't understand." I know this applies to some of us when we see the Spirit manifest in ways outside of our comfort zone.
    Break me of that, Jesus!
    Thanks for the thoughts G

  3. Garris, I remember Jesse Duplantis relating a time when he was preaching and a whole choir loft full of angels showed up at the meeting. Only he and another woman saw them, but as they moved from the choir loft across the platform and out through the back doors, people fell out (as they say down south). Not just one or two, everyone in the building was on the floor. He said it was an amazing time, but there were people there who were from other churches and he relates them crawling as best they could toward the door and saying things like, "I'm just not into this."

    As humorous as that picture is, it made me think that people simply relegate the operations of God to the realms of personal experience, or denominational/stream peculiarities. In any case, the story made me much more at peace with people's rejection of what I call all-out devotion and worship. The breaking of the alabaster jar and pouring out of the precious ointment onto Jesus in total self-unaware worship.

    Klaus Kuehn has a song on one of his albums called Alabaster Jar, it's wonderful.

    God Bless