“…they go onto detail about what they have seen in visions and have become unjustifiably arrogant by their selfish way of thinking..”
I’m a fan of Christian mystical experiences.
I feel that they, in their various shapes and forms, reveal a God who is full of wonder, mystery, and who is in the business of amazing human beings in our minds, body, and souls.
The Bible is full of these mystical experiences, where the Divine communicates and interacts with human beings in supernatural ways–Moses sees God in a burning bush, Elijah is met with a whisper, Ezekiel lay as though dead in his visions, and the disciples see Jesus transfigured before them.
I have my own collection of mystical experiences which make me love God and be fascinated by him. And I belong to a Christian stream which values and seeks after the mystical.
With mystical experiences, however, Paul gives such an amazing perspective to help us carry those experiences well.
He actually warns against who boast about them. What’s going on is that some Christian circles there are boasting about their mystical experiences as result of their human efforts.
The problem isn’t the experiences, it’s their attitudes. Paul says they become “unjustifiably arrogant” i.e. they made the experiences about them, and not God.
Selfishness and self-promotion are the quiet and destructive enemy of powerful experiences. In a faith which boasts supernatural encounters, it is easy to place undue value and significance on self. And this newfound value easily tempts us to boast over other people, thinking that they because they haven’t or have experienced this or that they are lesser or greater.
I feel that many people who are not Charismatic would easily point to this passage railing against the experiences we celebrate and pursue.
And I, speaking from being a Charismatic, have felt the whispers of these heart postures. I have seen it in my own heart and subtle thinking. And I have seen it when the “man of God” boasts in a subtle spirit of arrogance the experiences they have had.
Despite what they thought would create a less religious environment but instead created a more religious one because a religious environment is simply one which exalts the efforts of humans over the wonders of God.
It is important to know that the only hands that can can hold mystical experiences are the hands of humility.
To seek them, to share about them, and reflect about them in a way which points the greatness at a God who dazzles and bewilders his people. Often these revelations do give us more value as great words and truths are blossomed within us-but how blessed is the one who yet still considers others better than himself.
Yes–how blessed is the mystic who sees and experiences God in provocative ways and fascinating ways. Yet how blessed is that mystic who has the humility to love their enemy, to ask for forgiveness, and to serve people different than themselves.
God is indeed full of wonder, delighting the eyes and hearts of the humans he made. Let us be reminded that this same God, in all his wonder and glory, lavishes himself on the least, last, and the lost, an example every Christian mystic should follow.