What do we do with those who seem to be “super spiritual?” The ones who seem to pray more, praise louder, get more excited about God than we do? We all know parishioners who even in a five-minute conversation will start giving us their favorite Bible verse or be quick to share a testimony of what they feel God just did or showed them in their lives. What kind of feelings do they arouse in you? Do they freak you out just a little bit? Or, perhaps, on the other hand, does a bit of jealousy emerge? Do you muse, “I wish I knew God like that?” More often, I have found that for most people it’s the former, rather than the later. What should our response be as Christians?
God’s promise to reach out to all nations with His love runs all the way through the Old Testament. The Bible features many stories of conversions to Judaism. The most famous, I believe, is the story of Rahab, the harlot from Jericho. Interestingly, she ended up being the mother of Boaz, the great grandfather of King David and in the direct bloodline of Jesus Christ.
While He was here on earth, Jesus answered the criticisms of a group of Scribes and Pharisees concerning a particular woman by highlighting the trait that is most praised by God – being someone loving Him with all her heart. She had washed His feet with her hair. We find His comment in Luke 7:47: “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – as her great love has shown. But whosoever has been forgiven little loves little.” (NIV)
In Romans 11:11, speaking about Israel, Paul says, “I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.” (KJV) The point which I believe Paul is making is that even though God knew all along that He was going to extend the gospel to the Gentiles, he had a wonderful side benefit planned for the Jews. Even though years were passing quickly after Jesus died on the cross and was raised from the dead, the New Testament records that many Gentiles were coming to Christ. However, during that time period, the early Jewish Christians seemed for the most part to feel they had special favor with God because of their heritage. These new Gentile believers were very excited and passionate about their newfound faith in Jesus and were an example to Jewish believers.
Scripture tells us that God uses the zeal of the Gentiles to try to cause a jealously in the Jews in order to provoke them to more devotion to Him. Over and over in the Old Testament you can see the following two contrasting statements repeated concerning different individuals. Those who “sought the Lord with all their hearts” were commended; those who “did not seek the Lord with all their hearts” were reprimanded. This referred to kings, prophets and other individuals.
Clearly, the first commandment that Jesus quoted in Matthew 27:37-38, namely to “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength,” (KJV) furthers our understanding of just how zealous the Lord desires for us to be for Him. This truth, repeated throughout the whole Bible, reveals that not only is our Heavenly Father pleased with those who are passionately serving Him, He commands it!
How frequently have you heard that someone is “so heavenly minded they are no earthly good” used mockingly about those who are passionate in their walk with Christ? I cannot tell you in my many years of church attending how often I have heard that statement used in a despairingly way by a church leader. I once challenged someone to find an example of such a person in the Bible, or even a warning or an instruction about it. The truth is that nowhere in the Bible is there ever a case of anyone being reprimanded, criticized or rebuked for being too heavenly minded. What is there over and over again, by Jesus, the Apostle Paul, the Apostle Peter, and many Old Testament prophets are describing people who are so earthly minded they are little heavenly good!
Paul, in his letter to the Romans, did refer to a particular group of people that concerned him. Romans 10:2 states, “For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.” (KJV) In this case, however, he was referring to Israel and those who had not yet been saved, Jews who were still trying to earn their salvation through righteousness.
The famous 19th century lawyer-turned-evangelist Charles Finney, who won over 800,000 people to Christ in his lifetime, made the following statement: “I have noted that if you have much of the Spirit of God, don’t be surprised if you are opposed sometimes by leading members of the church.”
I have come to realize that most of us as modern-day Christians don’t backslide into worldly sin. We backslide into religious practice thinking that no one notices we have lost our first love! Sadly, our religiosity becomes a substitute for a close walk with Jesus. We are not in connection with the Spirit of God, and we are only either hearing from our own brain or our own sometimes demonically-inspired religious thoughts.
Because deep down we understand that we are in that condition, we are irritated by anyone who actually is in a wonderful relationship with God. We are walking in conviction, resisting the Holy Spirit’s tug on our hearts to get back to the cross and whatever sin issue God was dealing with us previously. We said no to Him and started backsliding away from enjoying Him and hearing from Him.
If the so-called “super spiritual” people tend to annoy you, check your own heart! Repent and revive your passion for God!
Rev Nolan J Harkness is the President and CEO of Nolan Harkness Evangelistic Ministries Inc. since 1985. He spent most of his adult life working in youth ministry. He also felt the calling of Evangelist/Revivalist and traveled as the door was open holding evangelistic meetings in churches throughout the Northeast. His website is www.verticalsound.org.