We’re probably used to thinking of God as requiring people to trust him or to believe in him so that they can qualify for his help or his salvation. What if I told you that God doesn’t require faith from the unbelieving, but instead gives faith to unbelievers by proving himself trustworthy in their lives first? What if “saved by grace through faith, and that the gift of God,” actually means faith is something God builds in us as he reveals who he is to us, while not requiring it from those who don’t yet have it? Would this change the very foundation of much ministry as we know it? Let me explain a bit from an example of the Lord ministering to someone’s deep woundedness:
I was praying with someone who came from a great Christian family. She described her upbringing as very healthy, loving, and free of abuse. Like many church kids do however, she rebelled against Christianity as she got older, getting into drugs, dabbling in Eastern religions, running with the wrong crowds, etc. She was looking for something “real” as opposed to the lack of substance she had found in the Western Evangelical church. Despite her wholesome upbringing, she had just never encountered God in a way that was real to her.
After she found the Lord experientially as an adult, I ended up walking her through healing of some of her fractured parts which contained some of her issues. These ones seemed to come from more difficult, later times in her life, and had been created during times when she didn’t believe in Jesus. They still didn’t believe, even though the core of this woman was now strong in faith.
I think she was well adjusted overall when I first met her, and she had a strong, interactive relationship with God. Regardless of her wholesome and safe upbringing, current spirituality, and “well-adjustedness,” she still benefited significantly from healing her fractured parts.
WILL THE REAL JESUS PLEASE SHOW UP?
The morning before our scheduled prayer session, she believed the Lord was highlighting some specific issues from her past he still wanted to heal. I prayed at the beginning of the session and was shown a certain adult part of her who was driven to perform and to protect in certain ways. At first, it seemed we may have been getting conflicting directions since nothing was apparently lining up.
I quickly prayed over this part I was seeing and called it to the surface, to share anything which was on her heart with us. I made sure to let the woman know not to analyze her past or her emotions, that we didn’t need to figure all that out, but that we only needed to let the fractured part of her share what was on her (the part’s) heart.
It turned out that the pains and concerns the part was sharing from within this woman were very related to the issues in her past which the Lord had highlighted to her that morning. This was a time of great turmoil when she had felt very unsafe.
Like many fractured parts, this one was found in a spiritual house within the woman, and this house was actually a place of captivity representing the trauma she endured at the time. (Parts can be found in many different structures, such as dungeons, caves, corporate buildings, etc., but a house is probably most common.) When I asked the part how she felt about Jesus, she replied that she didn’t have faith in him, saying “I’m not sure if he’s real.”
Since I’ve run into this so often, where parts don’t believe in the Lord (and many times even hate him or aggressively refuse to trust him) and have seen these things resolved in the same ways over and over again, I reassured her that this would be no problem. I told her that Jesus doesn’t need her to believe in him, but that he would come and prove himself to her if she was only willing to give him a chance.
I started out by asking her if she knew of any gods or spirits who were already in the house. The words came back, “Pharmakia and Rebellion.” I asked how she felt about those spirits. She replied, “I’m only trying to make friends.” It turned out that these spirits were what the “cool” people were into at the time. I asked if she knew they were demons and that they were there to kill her. She said, “yes.”
I asked how it was going with these spirits helping her to make friends, and she said that she still felt very lonely. She agreed with me that these bad spirits weren’t doing their job very well, and absolutely agreed to have them removed. (Permission is usually all you need) As I told them to go, the part (and the woman overall) suddenly felt much more peaceful.
The reason why I went straight from talking about Jesus showing up and proving himself to asking about other spirits is because I’ve found the presence of other “gods” to be the main reason people’s parts end up encountering the wrong spirit when inviting the Lord in. No sin on the part of the person or their parts is going to stop the Lord from ministering to them (if they are willing to receive), but intentional agreements with other spirits in place of the Lord, where those beings have become “gods” or guides to the person and their parts, do tend to produce counterfeit encounters.
In other words, I’ve found that the Lord will reveal himself no matter what hurts or sins the parts are carrying (as long as they are truly willing for him to do that), but that literal relationship with other gods/spirits tends to be a blockage needing to be resolved before he will show up.
I believe this all just comes down to free will. Grace is absolute, but the Lord also respects our will absolutely.
I was asking the part what form she would be most comfortable with the Lord showing up as since he can take any form one is most at ease with. The important thing is the eyes of whatever shows up. Is there love in the eyes or are they cold, mean, and/or empty? Is everything in the eyes good, or is there something negative in there? That’s how you can know it’s the Lord or not. The Lord always allows the parts to see his eyes. Other spirits may look great everywhere else, and even can look just like Jesus in every other way, but will hide their eyes to hide their true nature.
You can also tell by how the spirit treats the parts. Is it helping and healing the woundedness, or only reinforcing the woundedness? The counterfeits are often passive and powerless, giving promises of healing but not actually doing anything, or they may be mean and aggressive, literally causing more problems. Hopefully though, you will check the eyes first so that you don’t need to let them go that far. If in doubt, you can always use your authority in Christ to expose or restrain counterfeits, and that will work if they are really counterfeits.
While I was still talking with the part and as she was sharing that she would like the Lord to come in a certain form, she noticed that something was already in the room seeming to take that form. It had wings like an angel and had blue light shining from all around it. It sounded like it could have been a real angel. It got down on one knee and began ministering to the part, consoling her, telling her that she was OK, that everything was fine. I kept urging her to check the eyes. She said they were green and blue, but I wanted her to tell me what emotions or qualities were coming from those eyes, not just what color they were.
The woman told me that this part wasn’t willing to trust this being, wasn’t willing to extend faith that this “God” was really good. I replied that she doesn’t need to extend any trust. I actually told her not to trust at all, because that wasn’t what we were doing. We were trying to discern the being, not trying to trust it.
I asked the part to look into its eyes again and to report what she saw. The woman began to relay to me that she was getting images of dead things with empty, dark eyes as her part was examining the eyes of this “angel.” As she realized that her job was not to automatically trust whatever showed up, she began to get some discernment about the being, that it was a fairy, not an angel. Fairies are a mythological (but actually spiritual) creature known for rebellion and mischief.
I walked the woman and her part through a generational renunciation, breaking any agreements ancestors may have made with fairies or with folk religions which would have invited relationship with fairies. I’ve found generational renunciation to be necessary and effective on certain occasions where, regardless of how many personal agreements with evil spirits were broken, people’s parts just kept on running into counterfeit after counterfeit as they were inviting God to reveal himself. As in those situations, after this renunciation, the fairy disappeared. The woman felt led to have her part break agreement with a certain form psychedelic drug use which could have been related to fairies, and she did that as well.
When we invited the Lord to reveal himself to the part now, Jesus came in the room in the form he is portrayed in Akiane’s paintings. The part said she always liked that image of Jesus, and was most comfortable with it. As she examined him, looking into his eyes, she could see love there, and could see no bad qualities, only good.
Jesus took her hand and began leading her out of the house, which had been her place of darkness and captivity. She felt great peace and freedom as she escaped that building. As they walked outside, Jesus began to hold her, allowing her to cry on his shoulder. He talked to her a little bit and asked her, “Do you trust me?” She exclaimed, “Yes!”
There was a little bit of further healing if I remember correctly, and then the part was integrated into the whole woman. She felt wonderful.
SOME THINGS TO PONDER
After the prayer session, I shared with the woman how smooth and easy her healing was going. I run into plenty of rougher cases. She was sharing how good her childhood had been, how little trauma there was, how loving her parents were, how she was raised in such a wholesome Christian home, etc. Those are all good things. She shared that her wayward times just came from her own rebellion.
I can’t give God credit for this with certainty, but I started to see the typical “Christian upbringing” from a little bit different perspective. I spontaneously began to share something with her which was coming out of that.
I shared that I was impressed with people I’d known who had grown up in really strong Christian homes, who had seemed so well rounded, relationally healthy, and balanced. I could clearly tell that their upbringing was vastly different than mine, where I had one parent emotionally absent for a little bit before soon being dead, and then the other parent too overwhelmed with survival to be there much, neither of whom were very churchgoing (So I was not either). On the other hand, I said that growing up in the church is often traumatic in its own way.
I referred to the Western Evangelical church as “a cult,” where great fear and shame are used to push people to agree with beliefs they have personally seen little or no evidence for, and where people are demanded, under threat of great punishment, to act like someone who knows God when they don’t actually know him.
I shared that she was never rebelling against God in her search for “forbidden” experiences. This was because she hadn’t known him yet. She had only been rebelling against the control tactics of a cult. She had done what any human being tends to do when intensely pressured to swallow and conform to standards and beliefs without any evidence, reacting in the opposite direction.
I pray with people who have grown up in church and in committed Christian homes who have come away with severe issues. People have had their very personhood taken away, turned into doormats for lifelong abuse in the name of submission and obedience to “godly authority.” Women have been convinced to submit to their husband’s beatings “as unto the Lord.”
People have formed “good” (complicit) parts and “bad” (rebellious) parts in an effort to cope with a home where they had to comply with control or abuse to be “good,” or at other times have had to accept a label of being “bad” to maintain their own sense of worth and individuality.
People have been condemned and terrorized by a god who “righteously” threatens eternal torture for those who fail to line up to a standard they just can’t meet. If you don’t agree with the right doctrines, if you don’t behave the right ways, if you sin differently than the accepted group, you are one of “them,” not one of “us.” But, what if God doesn’t work that way? What if he doesn’t shame and terrorize people into accepting his doctrines? What if he earns our trust by his actions before he expects us to believe something about him?
There was a popular evangelism method, “The Way of the Master,” which was spread through the churches not too many years ago. I think it was based on traditional Methodist theology or something like that. It was created by this open-air street evangelist, an incredibly gifted public speaker, who I don’t think saw more than a couple conversions per year. I could be wrong on that, but most of the examples I saw were of people just getting pissed off and deciding he was full of crap.
He would start by condemning the unbeliever because they don’t measure up to the law of Moses (which law was never God’s will in the first place if you look at the context it was given, an answer to a rebellious people who had refused the Lord’s offer of relationship, demanding rules to keep according to their own slavery mentality and barbaric culture of some 4000 years ago). Then, he would proceed into quoting some completely mistranslated and out of context verse, sentencing the unbeliever to an eternity in a torturous flaming hell (a doctrine not found in the original languages of scripture and not very well accepted among Christians until Catholicism took control in the fifth century AD).
All along, this preacher would be insinuating that the person who genuinely wasn’t sure yet if Jesus was the way, really did already know and was “without excuse,” based on a verse out of Romans 1. The idea presented in Romans 1, that mankind has some kind of connection to God within and a conscience about right and wrong making us accountable for our moral choices, was used to demand a leap of faith into swallowing all of this man’s beliefs about a condemning, child abusing God worse than Hitler and Freddy Kruger combined. This was obviously leading into a fear based life of strict denial of most of one’s own thoughts, feelings, and spiritual process of discovery.
Somehow, despite its dismal results in most places it’s been applied, that method of evangelism was spread throughout the church, even across denominational lines. Maybe it fit right in with the culture already in place? Maybe someone smarter than me can offer a better explanation for such strange events.
What if real evangelism isn’t meant to look anything like that? What if God simply never treats people like that? What if we are meant to patiently love people and introduce them to a direct encounter with God so they can know him for themselves? What if spiritual leadership is meant to lead people into knowing him directly instead of merely being controlled by man? Maybe we’d end up with some different statistics than the current ones which say most churchgoing kids drop out of their faith as soon as they leave for college.