Nobody owns God. Yet, the same could not be said for the reverse; by the fact we exist we’re instruments of the Almighty. Against the trend of truth, however, comes an all too common occurrence, anywhere that power might be contorted against people and, never worse, in the name and purposes of God:
“The people [that] control others with God, are further from God than those who don’t believe in Him. He’s not a tool we use.”
~Paul Hewson a.k.a. Bono of U2
Of many manifestations to the end of manipulation, ‘for God’, countless thousands are robbed of quality from their spiritual lives. Of course, this is not just a Christian phenomenon; so many cults and religions—as many as there have ever been or could be—might engage in such practices. But what does a Christian ministry look like, that manipulates?
Sensing The Danger Signs
Manipulation has many threads as webs of deceit and control. There is no exhaustive list. We’d do better to identify the characteristics of such threads. For instance, what might a ministry leader or pastor or fellow-follower-of-Christ do in exhibiting coercive behaviours?
It’s better, again, to focus on what we might feel at the behest of manipulation.
We all have a spirit-sense; the intuition for right and wrong within our midst. Something within our gut instinct tells us, perhaps at an unconscious level, that what we hear or see or experience isn’t quite right. Sometimes this sort of sense is not picked up on, or we don’t act on it. Later we may find out things, either more positively or more negatively, are not as they seemed initially.
The more consistently we listen to and act upon this inner sense, the more personal control we can exercise. It’s not disobeying God to question the motives of others, even the motives of our leaders. Indeed, leaders with a godly anointing, those humbly submitted to the Lord, will understand the need to operate within a network of accountability. Leaders should have no problem in accounting for everything they do, within reasonable limits. Leaders should also have the trust to operate as leaders. That trust, though, is a tenuous arrangement. We trust only those we’re safe with.
Sensing the danger signs is an indicator for further enquiry. We should never dismiss, point blank, nodes of alarm.
Anyone who coerces anyone under ‘the purposes of God’ has, by their coercion, disqualified themselves as an agent for God’s purposes. Furthermore, they have moved far from the Lord and act as an agent for the enemy of God. Where we feel coerced, we should listen to our inner spirit-sense and pray and, with courage, act regarding what the Spirit tells us to do.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.