Thursday, May 16, 2013

When God Wrecks My Theology: Speaking in Tongues

In the last year, as I’ve grown in my relationship with the Lord, He has continued to wreck the theology that I previously held. This has happened time and time again, and continues to teach me how God can’t be put in a box, or limited to rules/ laws. He is SO big. So complex. So much deeper, kinder, more holy and perfect than we could ever imagine.

One of the areas that God has wrecked my theology on is speaking in tongues. I always found it something weird... that “those” weird Christians did... you know, the Christians that are made to look like fools on tv and in the media. I didn’t understand it, and I was scared of it. It didn’t fit into my box of clean, comfortable Christianity. The only thing I really knew about speaking in tongues was that I was sure you had to have an interpreter present (1 Corinthians 14:27-28).

And then one day my husband came home, told me about an encounter he had with the Lord, and how he (Jeremy) was now speaking in tongues. To say I was weirded out is an understatement. I really didn’t know what it meant, and I instantly felt spiritually inferior and less gifted than Jeremy, and as a defense mechanism I latched onto doubt.

After a few weeks, several conversations with my hubby, and some processing time with the Lord I became more and more curious. I thought about tongues a lot, and had a lot of questions... was this gift for everyone, did I have this gift, did an interpreter need to be present, is speaking in tongues an angelic language/ speaking in an unknown (to me) language, or both?

Eventually, I began to practice speaking in tongues in my personal time with the Lord. The first few times were awkward... I would do it, write down the words that I said, and then google them to find out if they were a certain language or had a certain meaning. I was still viewing this from my mind, in doubt, using the natural mind to try to understand something that is spiritual in nature.

Over the period of a few weeks I continued to speak in tongues, and found myself continually torn wondering if I was forcing it/ making it up, or if it was real and from the Lord. I continued to try to put rules around it and cram it into a box. Finally one day Jeremy (really God through Jeremy) said to me that I was being a spiritual gifts legalist... that I was defining this gift by what is not to be done rather than what is to be done. That hit the heart of it for me. I was looking for rules to make it safe and comfortable, when God rarely operates in a safe and comfortable way. After this breakthrough I found speaking in tongues to be more peaceful and natural than anything I’ve ever done. It no longer brought fear and doubt to me, but produced a peace and joy unparalleled to anything else I’ve experienced. It began to be a way for me to escape from my mind and thoughts, analyzing and trying to find all of the perfect words for the prayers I was praying, and became a way for me to grow in touch with the grumblings of the Spirit that are too deep for words (Romans 8:26).

I don’t have all the answers on tongues, how they should be used or when, on if it is a gift for everyone, or reserved for a particular few. But quite frankly, I no longer care. I know that the verse that had caused me the most concern going into it was;

1 Corinthians 14:27-28 If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God.

I’ve also come to see (this is something the Lord revealed directly to me) that in this same book of 1 Corinthians exists;

1 Corinthians 11:5-6 But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.
1 Corinthians 14:34 The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says.

I have never attended a church that insists that womens heads must be covered in church, or that they can’t speak in church... today most denominations assume that these verses were cultural to the time they were written, but most denominations still hold to 1 Corinthians 14:27-28 (having an interpreter) even though it is in the same book as both of the aforementioned verses, and even in the same chapter as one of them.

All of this leads me to a place of humility, knowing that I don’t have all of the answers, I don’t have God all figured out. My understanding of Him and His Word continues to change as the years go on. I know that the Bible is His Word, it is true, and always relevant, living, alive and good, and I know that His Word has to be read by the Spirit, and taken into context. I am so grateful that He has placed His Spirit in me, to give me understanding, and to lead me in His ways. May we all truly seek Him in all things, even when it wrecks our theology and comfort zone, and may all that we do be done to the glory of God.


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