Fire in My Bones, by J. Lee Grady

Want to receive Fire in My Bones by email? Sign up here
meanface
(Creatistsa Stock Free Images )

If a judgmental spirit has contaminated your walk with God, ask Him for a fresh understanding of grace.

If there were an award for Worst Example of Christianity in 2012, it would have to go to the infamous Westboro Baptist Church.

The tiny sect, based in Topeka, Kan., made headlines several times last year—most notably in December 2012 when its members planned an unsuccessful demonstration at the funeral of a victim of the Connecticut school shooting.

Fred Phelps, the 83-year-old leader of Westboro, believes innocent children died in the Connecticut tragedy because God is mad at America for tolerating gay marriage. This is why Phelps named his church’s website GodHatesFags.com and why he sends his followers to hold hateful placards at military funerals. He claims that every time a U.S. soldier dies in Afghanistan, it is God’s reminder that He’s angry at America’s moral decay. 

Personally I don’t think this group should use the term “Baptist” (Phelps describes himself as a Calvinist, but he is accountable to no one) or “church” (his members spend most of their time at protests wearing “God Hates Fags” T-shirts). They bear no resemblance to New Testament faith.

Most of us just roll our eyes when we hear of Westboro’s disgusting attempts to get publicity. Phelps has the constitutional right to say what he wants (and the Supreme Court agreed in 2011), but his angry tone makes all believers look bad. I’m sure some people have rejected the gospel because they assume all Christians share Phelps’ self-righteousness.

I have no plans to fight Phelps. I think the best counter-offensive is to show America what genuine Christian faith really is. We can begin by searching our hearts and making sure we don’t have any self-righteousness in us.

I have to be honest: As much as Phelps upsets me, I suspect I have at least a hint of his hypocrisy. And you probably do too. (If you don’t believe that, read Romans 2.)

The cry of my heart as we enter 2013 is for a genuine New Testament faith. I want the real deal. I crave humility, brokenness and compassion. I want the vibrant love of God, not cold, poisonous, hateful Phariseeism. If you agree, consider taking this questionnaire to make sure you are not harboring the spirit of religion.

How do you view God? A religious spirit sees God as a harsh, distant taskmaster rather than an approachable, loving Father. If you have not allowed God’s unconditional love to soak into the core of your being, you will misrepresent Him to others.

Do you know you are truly forgiven? The people who rail the loudest against other people’s sins often have never come to know the depths of forgiveness the Father offers. Religious people base their relationship with God on their ability to perform spiritual duties. Thus they deny the power of grace.

Are you working to earn God’s acceptance, or is your salvation based totally on Christ’s death on the cross? Religious people think God accepts them because they pray, read the Bible, attend church or abstain from certain behaviors. And they believe God gets mad if they aren’t perfect. Yet the apostle Paul told us plainly that if we are working for our salvation, we are “fallen from grace” (see Gal. 5:4).

Do you have true joy in Jesus? Those who know the true love of God enjoy a continual feast of inner celebration.Yet religious people are cynical and hypercritical, and no one wants to be around their sourness. Children who grow up in joyless religious homes usually abandon faith in adulthood.

Do you embrace other churches besides your own? Religious people think their righteousness is special and that they cannot associate with believers who have different standards. (Phelps, for example, believes Billy Graham is the greatest false prophet since Balaam!) So men like Phelps form tiny elitist clubs that focus on specific doctrines and they become vulnerable to deception.

How do you view sinners? A person who has been transformed by God’s love cares deeply for people, regardless of their race, social background, political affiliation or sexual history. Jesus showed acceptance and love to prostitutes, thieves and notorious sinners even as He called them to repentance. Yet we evangelicals have created a confusing hybrid Jesus who is compassionate on one hand, yet on the other hand is angry at homosexuals, Hollywood stars, environmentalists, Democrats, atheists, illegal immigrants and pot smokers.

The American church needs deliverance from this toxic religiosity. If we don’t correct the problem, we are really no different from Phelps. If the poison of judgmentalism has contaminated your walk with God, ask Him to pour a fresh understanding of grace into your barren spirit—and then expect His new life to flow through you in 2013.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of The Mordecai Project (themordecaiproject.org). You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. His latest book is Fearless Daughters of the Bible

Best Magazine Deal. Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Charisma, SpiritLed Woman and Ministry Today, all for $24. YES - I want this deal!

3 Reasons Why you should read Life in the Spirit. 1) Get to know the Holy Spirit. 2) Learn to enter God's presence 3) Hear God's voice clearly! Click Here to draw closer to God!

Did you enjoy this blog? Click here to receive it by email.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
  • Roadblock

    6 Roadblocks That Will Stop Your Spiritual Growth

    God wants you to grow in your faith, but many of us get stuck along the way.

  • 2017 is the year that swords will clash.

    Prophetic Word: 2017 Will Bring a Clashing of Heaven and Hell

    "This is a time to cross over and not pull back."

  • Inner Healing Is the Fruit of the Spirit

    Inner Healing Is the Fruit of the Spirit

    I have been puzzled about the subject of inner healing for some time.

  • Bishop Eddie Long died at 63.

    Bishop Eddie Long Dead at 63

    "Although his transition leaves a void for those of us who loved him dearly, we can celebrate ...

  • The devil will try to silence you in any way he can. Don't give him the satisfaction.

    Satan's 2 Most Potent Lies to Render You Ineffective

    There's something in you so powerful that Satan doesn't want it out. Kyle Winkler reveals ...

  • Cindy Jacobs

    2017: Year of the Breakthrough

    "There will be a significant increase in miracles and signs and wonders."

  • Foot washing

    Shaking the Gates of Hell With a Basin of Water and a Towel

    "When I saw His foot, I knew He had come to take back territory the enemy had stolen from His ...

  • Growing relationship

    2017 Prophetic Word: The Supernatural Key to Growing Your Relationship With God

    It's vital that we understand what comes from God and what comes from the devil.

  • Are you willing to volunteer for God's offensive army?

    Prophetic Word: Preparing for God's World War 3

    God is searching for soldiers of the cross who are willing to volunteer for His offensive army.

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit