Posted by: myroadtoemmaus | September 15, 2007

just another religion class

After four years of classes in the Religious Studies Department at the University of Virginia, I found myself preparing for yet another Religion Class. This time around, the class was going to be taught by Allen Hood, the president of the Forerunner School of Ministry, here at the International House of Prayer. It was going to be a nine-day intensive study on the Excellencies of Christ. I was ready. Or so I thought.

On the third day of class, Allen started talking about the importance of fixing our eyes on Christ. “Whatever your eyes see and are fascinated by, your heart will follow”, he stated. He taught that the enemy’s plan is to dull our eyes, to dull the very faculties that God created to behold Him because by beholding Him, we become like Him. He talked about the increasing temptation in this generation to give our eyes to perversion, to lust, even to jealousy and bitterness. He led us in a time of repentance for our sin and for the sins of our generation. He invited people to rise who wanted to make a commitment to the Lord to gaze upon Him for all the days of their lives, just like David did. The majority of the 300 students rose to their feet. Many opened their palms and held their hands up at their side. A few started to weep. Many started to pray under their breaths, uttering promises to the Lord, confessing and repenting from their sin. Allen Hood began to pray on the microphone yet as he was praying, he instructed us to pray for ourselves as he was going to be praying for himself. We didn’t need one more person to pray for us, he said. We needed to do business with God.

Already, the morning was starting to feel less like a class and more like a church service. Releasing himself from the pressure that most professors live under, Allen seemed to let go of his control and authority over the class and he invited and allowed the Holy Spirit to come and minister to us. This wasn’t just for the five minutes at the end of the class. This wasn’t the ritual thirty second prayer at the beginning of a talk. This was just one hour into a three hour class and the president of the ministry school was sitting down on the stage, fully aware that if the goal of the class was to learn about Jesus, God could surely do a far better job than he could.

Just thirty minutes later, spontaneous choruses started to emerge throughout the room. Voices resounded while singing “O God let us be a generation that seeks, that seeks your face, O God of Jacob”. No instruments were needed. No worship team was on the stage. Songs were arising from within souls. A few courageous individuals, from where they were standing, quoted scripture or spoke a word that they sensed God was saying to them. One young man on the front row started to visibly tremble and then belted out an invitation from the Lord. “My chariot is coming” he said, “and I am looking for laid-down lovers who will follow me into battle”. He went on for a minute and as soon as he closed his mouth, the trembling instantly stopped, he fell forward, and he laid there, prostrate on the ground. Shortly after this, sounds of laughter erupted from the back left corner of the room. Dozens of people were caught up in this laughter. Others just started to laugh at those who were laughing because to be honest, it was pretty hilarious. Those who were laughing didn’t look like the ones who would be prone to laughing in a setting like this. It seemed as if the laughing had just come over them like a spirit. In the back right corner, a young girl was pacing back and forth speaking in a language that I could not understand. I realized that many around me were speaking in similar languages, speaking in tongues as the Bible says.

Throughout this whole time, I was astonished that Allen was sitting down, participating in but not leading what was happening. For close to two hours, the class was being led and yet there was no leader. Without a doubt in my mind, it was being led by the Holy Spirit. Colossians 3:16 says this: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God”. At the end of the class, the overarching emotion was one of gratitude. “You are a good God!” someone shouted out. “We love you, Jesus!” echoed another.

“Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing—grain offerings and drink offerings for the Lord your God.” Joel 2:13-14

This morning was a picture of what Joel taught. As the students in the class confessed their sin, repented and turned from their former ways, and vowed that they would fix their eyes on Him and Him alone, God came and left behind a blessing of gratitude, joy, and awe in our hearts.

Throughout all of this, I was shocked by my reaction to the entire morning. More than shocked, I was disgusted by my reaction. After four years of being given the right to come to my own conclusions about religion and about God within the university setting, I find myself reaping the consequences of an intellectual spirit and pride. I find myself finally starting to realize that I can know nothing about God unless God reveals it to me. He is infinite. His is boundless. He is eternal. Who am I to use my human mind to try to understand God? Who am I to question how the Holy Spirit moves? Who am I to judge this seemingly charismatic environment just because I happened to come to know the Lord through an evangelical outreach? This morning, I realized what a tragedy it was for me to go through four years of college and allow my heart to become dull just for the sake of allowing my mind to be enlarged. The result is horrific. I now look at the world with eyes of disbelief until I am given reason to believe. Moreover, I look at God and wait for understanding before I give myself to worship. My judgment and skepticism has kept me a spectator and as a result, I have missed out on the entirety of what God has been willing to offer to me.

“I tell you the truth”, Jesus said to his disciples, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

My prayer today, as I come before the cross, is that God would humble me. My prayer is that He would break this critical spirit and replace it with the faith of a child.



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