Pastor Shane Idleman of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, is concerned about those who ridicule others' genuine encounters with God because in doing so, they are inadvertently quenching the fire of the Holy Spirit that they so desperately need in their own lives.
Idleman stated in his most recent blog that individuals frequently make fun of things they haven't personally experienced. When he was younger, he admitted that he was one of those mockers, but that he changed after receiving his own baptism in the Spirit.
In his testimony, he said that the successive "fillings of the Spirit" he has had after his initial experience with God's Spirit have empowered and emboldened him in his ministry, particularly at times when he does not feel like praying or worshiping God.
"What causes people to ridicule deep moments of prayer and worship?" he asked. "My assessment is jealousy. They mock what they've never experienced-the overwhelming power and presence of the Spirit."
"Sadly, spiritual pride often follows those skilled in the Word because "knowledge puffs up" (1 Corinthians 8:1). As a result, spiritual pride causes them to discount the experiences of others," he added.
Idleman observed that when challenged with their "lack of Holy Spirit fire," these individuals would often respond angrily and defend their actions by claiming that they were standing for the truth and doctrine. He said that although he personally loves theology and stands up for it on a daily basis, people must also remember that they were designed to have direct encounters with God.
"If more men and women sought Him with all their heart and soul (according to the truth), America might actually experience another profound revival," he remarked.
Persecuted Christians know it well
Idleman recounted the story of a man who had fled persecution in China and had come to a conservative pastors' convention in Southern California to share his experiences. The majority of those in attendance were "cessationists" or believers who think that prophecy and signs and wonders have ceased.
In the man's testimony, he describes how the Holy Spirit led him to ride his bike in a different direction to avoid being apprehended by the cops.
In fact, many other Chinese Christians have similar experiences. Given the CCP authorities' tight monitoring of churches, underground church members can only agree on a time to gather, but do not designate a certain location for a meeting. Each one just started walking, certain that the Spirit of God would quickly lead each of them to a secure location for prayer and worship.
Following the man's story, everyone in attendance cheered and praised God for guiding the Chinese Christian through such a difficult time.
This confused Idleman because he was fully aware that if another man had testified from outside the conservative group, the same people who had cheered and praised the Chinese guy would claim the opposite.
"Experiencing God doesn't invalidate theology; it confirms it."
Idleman believes that although many pastors spend endless hours preparing sermons, the most important preparation takes place in the pastor's prayer closet. Thus, when it comes to spiritual revival, he urged his fellow pastors and Christians in general to not be intimidated by passionate worship, lengthy prayer periods at the altar, or fasting.
"Don't be embarrassed by the power of the Spirit; embrace it today," he proclaimed.