Questions to Consider: Developing Discernment (Part 1)
In Sunday’s message, the Apostle John challenged us to cultivate the gift of discernment. False prophets and false teachings had arisen in the congregation that John served. Under such circumstances, the duty to grow in discernment fell upon the whole church, not just those particularly gifted or interested in the issues. Our time is no different.
The quote to the left from Charles Spurgeon beautifully explains the task of discernment – to distinguish between what is right and what is “almost right.” Sometimes “almost right” is acceptable, but not when it comes to one’s view of Jesus. An “almost divine” Jesus will not sufficiently command your attention when you need wisdom and guidance. An “almost human” Jesus will not sufficiently inspire your trust when you are suffering, anxious, lonely, or burdened by guilt and shame.
Here are some questions regarding Jesus’ divinity to help you further develop your spiritual discernment:
1. How long does it take you to consult Jesus – either through Scripture or prayer – when you have questions about money? Your marriage? Ethical issues about life and sexuality? Politics? Raising children? Reconciling with a friend or an enemy?
2. If it takes you some time to consult Jesus on these sorts of issues, then who do you consult in the meantime? Friends and family? Books and blogs? Your own common sense? Google?
3. If you don’t consult Jesus first and last on these and other issues, what does that reveal about your opinion of him at the heart level? Do you confess that Jesus is fully divine, but practically regard him as “almost” divine – one voice among many that may or may not have something relevant to say to you?
4. Pick one issue or area of your life from the list in the first question. What would it look like for you to trust that Jesus knows everything about it, and that he is willing and eager to share his wisdom with you?
5. What disciplines could you practice that might strengthen your trust in Jesus and his perfect, divine wisdom? What would you need in order to begin practicing those disciplines? Would you need guidance on establishing a habit of prayer? Would you need to learn how to study the Scriptures better? Would you need advice on how to practice periods of silence, solitude, or fasting in order to train yourself to hear the Holy Spirit? Where would you go to find these answers?