A friend and spiritual mentor told me once, after a long period of personal and community turmoil, that “there are no ‘normal’ communities.” What he meant was that no matter where I went, I would never find a conflict-free environment. No matter how “righteous” the group purported to be, some folks in the group would invariably fall short of their discipleship covenant. Humanity has a built-in propensity to walk on the dark side. Scripture calls it “sin.” The Body calls them “wounded healers.”
Recently, a leader of the Florida Outpouring, Todd Bentley, crashed and burned. There were plenty of warning signs. Todd has a long history of character and ministry flaws. But the fruits of the Spirit’s move in Lakeland were real and abundant. Thousands of folks were led to the Lord, healed, delivered, and restored.
Do I wonder why God allowed such power and grace to flow through such a flawed man, of course! But God is God and I’m not! So I’ve chosen to quiet my soul, listen for the Lord’s voice, and wait peacefully, until the pharisees run out of hot air and the whirlwind passes.
In the wake of Todd’s public failures, christian leaders have come out en mass, to judge and condemn Todd Bentley and his entire entourage, and to attack the fruits of the Spirit that manifested in Lakeland. It’s become an unholy feeding frenzy. So what’s a faithful Believer to do in the middle of this (or any other) firestorm? Follow Jesus’ lead!
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:13-15
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33
Watch the way you talk. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:29-32
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8