"Are You With Me?"
The female preacher was giving a good message. Confident. Flowing with momentum. Excellent scripture recall. Moving about the podium. Interspersing remarks of "Are you following me?...Do you get this?"
The congregation always answered in the affirmative.
She drew from the prophetic passage in Zechariah 9; that Messiah would appear meek and lowly, having salvation, and riding on a donkey. She then went to the chapter in Mark where this prophecy was fulfilled as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on "Palm Sunday".
Focus then shifted to this donkey. One moment tethered "at a place where two ways met". Nothing significant about his life. Monotonous. Bound by circumstances. But the next moment released by command of the Master and brought into service for the King. What a promotion! There had been words written about that donkey, foreordained "since before the foundation of the world". But the donkey knew nothing of this and believed, sadly, that life would remain the same and with the same restrictions and bonds.
"What binds you?" the preacher then asked..."a secret sin, a habit, an inappropriate association, lust, unbelief, a memory unforgiven, a history of abuse, a sick body, money problems? These things need to be loosed. You need to be set free that you might enter into your destiny with Jesus, your glorious service for the King."
Shortly thereafter a call was given for people to come forward to receive prayer and deliverance. A large number responded and the period of ministry lasted another twenty minutes. The preacher surprisingly had energy to spare for the tidbits of prayer, pronouncements, bindings and loosings which followed.
Now here comes the matter of concern. She had carried the congregation with her style, assertiveness, organization, good looks and momentum. But had anyone noticed that she was verging on error here? Suggesting that believers, legitimately saved and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, could be demon possessed? Certainly believers in a difficult fallen world may often be Satan oppressed and opposed. But possessed? Nope. Don't just blame it all on the Devil.
She had a commendable burden to see brothers and sisters in Christ realizing their full potential. Good exhortation. But to suggest that there is foreordained victory for all of them is to render a disservice and typical charismatic "boiler-plate". Was all to be handled by an anointing to deliver?
What of difficulties in a difficult world? What of sin unconfessed and harboured? What of foolish or unhealthy life-styles? What of God's sovereign purposes for many in the sterling suffering of one? What of the simple hidden life of fellowship and intercession, a fragrance to the nostrils of God, but never given a notorious time of destiny this side of Glory?
Am I reading too much into the pastor's words? Perhaps. But the congregation obviously bought the whole package without question or reservation. They must think; they must grow; they must know their own Bibles; they must challenge courteously, as did the Bereans, who took even the teachings of the Apostle Paul with a healthy ingredient of caution.