[As spoken by Janie to Pheoby in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God]
This quote seemingly jumped off the page at me as I thumbed through this old familiar book to which I was introduced in college nearly twenty-five years ago. Once the reader gets past the dialect which I think is distinctly southern Gullah-Geechee (with which I am quite familiar due to my own connection to the culture), the message becomes clear: in order to truly/fully understand something, we must experience it.
[By the way, are there any other red rice, collard/turnip/mustard greens, oyster stew, succotash, chow chow, okra, shrimp and grits, and fried fish eating readers of this blog?]
I say often to my friends in ministry and to those close to me: “If you don’t have any battle scars, you can’t talk to me about the battle.” In other words, if you’ve not been in the trenches, you are in no position to talk to me as an authority about the fight I am in UNLESS God uses the individual as an oracle to present a message to me (which He has done before many times). Do you now get the correlation to the quote above?
I have found that many “ministries” are being led by those with no battle scars. My initial thoughts about this appear as questions: How can a minister/pastor talk to me about deliverance if he has not been delivered from something? How can a minister/pastor counsel anyone on the use of God’s Word for healing if he has not experienced such a healing directly or–at least–vicariously?
Even Jesus, who was God in the flesh, experienced the battle first-hand: 2 Corinthians 5:21 – “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Now, in order for the Lord Jesus to be made sin, He had to experience all manner of spiritual sickness/illness we’ve come to know all to well–sickness that requires healing and deliverance only through the Word and the Amen. To exacerbate Jesus’ experience, He suffered the cross (not to mention the possible rejection from God many theologians suggest He suffered just before dying on the cross according to Matthew 27:46), which ensured healing and deliverance for believers by conquering the sin He had become.
Sure, we can say that a pastor/minister/spiritual advisor can counsel simply based on his faith in God’s Word. However, the following could be argued:
James 2:14-26 (NKJV)
Faith Without Works Is Dead
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your[a] works, and I will show you my faith by my[b]works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?[c] 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says,“Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”[d] And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
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