So, is this blog about politics? No, it is about discernment.
The debate over immigration policies that has filled up the news is an important one that is buried under sentiment, driven by undeniably sad pictures and stories of real suffering by real people. Any reasonable conversation is quickly overtaken by emotional shouts from both sides of the argument, by name calling, and caricatures of reality painted for propaganda purposes. What is needed are clear minds, people who will examine, think through, and sort out the tangled webs of economic opportunity, justice, and fear. But, alas we are blinded by our emotional responses.
- Is your Christian hope rooted in Truth, in a thoughtful examination of the Scripture that causes deep, profound, and personal change?
- Or, are you, like so many 21st American Christians, basing your faith on the unstable foundation of emotions?
In the contemporary Christian scene that is my home, much of our worship experience is designed primarily to move our hearts. The lyrics of many of our worship songs (and I do enjoy them!) often read more like a poem to a boyfriend than a declaration of wonder at the Almighty God. Thousands drift from church to church looking for some novel experience to stir jaded emotions, to somehow ‘feel’ the love of Jesus.
Personally, we are tempted to ignore the hard issues of discipleship, preferring to read comforting passages of the Word that promise blessings and speak of God’s love over and over again. That we should be challenged to face up to Self, to kneel in silent, humble prayer, to practice disciplines, is beyond the grasp of millions.
Paul’s prayer does not ignore the role of both the heart and the mind. “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11, NIV) We are to love Jesus, but not just for the warm fuzzies that come from that but to be drawn to a devotion that causes us to align our thoughts, words, and actions with the will of God! That demands reflection, interaction, and willingness to let the Spirit speak to things we cherish. The result is that we discern what is best. We are no longer ruled by our emotions. The Spirit makes our mind alive and able to accept Truth and reject deception so that our lives become beautiful whole and holy.
The role of the Pastor is often see as a kind of chaplaincy, a person who comes into the life of the Christian in time of crisis to give aid and comfort. In fact, those who lead the Church are charged with a robust task of teaching, changing minds with Truth. For what reason? “Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” (Ephesians 4:14-15, NLT) Instead of pouting, crying, and whining when our emotions are frustrated, we become mature and able to do what we are called to do, regardless of whether we feel like it or not. What a radical idea.
Let’s begin to cherish the mind again, thanking God for the wonderful emotions that make life richly textured, but capable of knowing Him both in Spirit and Truth. Don’t be a brainless believer. By the way, this is not about intellect, it is about the teaching of the Spirit who gives wisdom to those who hunger for Him.
The word from the Word today invites us to the beauty of a mature faith. “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior. .. God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and “All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil.” (2 Timothy 2:15-19, NLT)
All I once held dear built my life upon
All this world reveres and wars to own
All I once thought gain I have counted loss
Spent and worthless now compared to this
Knowing You Jesus knowing You
There is no greater thing
You’re my all You’re the best
You’re my joy my righteousness
And I love You Lord love You Lord
Now my heart’s desire is to know You more
To be found in You and known as Yours
To possess by faith what I could not earn
All surpassing gift of righteousness
Oh to know the pow’r of Your risen life
And to know You in Your sufferings
To become like You in Your death my Lord
So with You to live and never die
Graham Kendrick © 1993 Make Way Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)
CCLI License # 810055