Sorting through the ‘facts’

These days I find myself confused by the flow of information that is often completely contradictory from one ‘expert’ to the next.  For some matters I can just ignore the noise. When it comes to my faith in Christ and my life as His disciple, the issues are of first-line importance. Revisionists tell me that what I once believed about my Christian faith and practice is no longer applicable or true.  

Being “politically correct” often is more important than knowing the truth.  We live in an era when personal experience and affirmation of individuals is more important than what is right. The results for the work and life of the Church are catastrophic as they are for the world in which we live, one that slips deeper into chaos each day.

When I am confronted by a pastor or teacher who claims some new light, in my discomfort I do look first at myself. “Jerry, are you just attached to a tradition? Does your discomfort come from that tradition being violated or does your disagreement arise out of a necessary defense of principle?”  It is not a simple question, nor is the answer always clear.

While we err greatly in making our doctrine completely malleable to our culture, we also err if we become rigid and refuse to learn.  So I try to give myself to study, prayer, and reflection. I ask God to give me patience to listen to others while desiring to know the leading of the Spirit and His revelation of the truth above all else.  

I am quite aware that there will always be generational difference of understanding about ‘best practice’ in faith.  We will, given our perceptions and understandings, shift in our ways of worship. But, when the ways of the world and being accepted by others is allowed to be more important than fidelity to the revealed truth of the Word, a deadly drift starts to pull us away from the living God.

Life is full of ambiguity, with many choices I make every day involving many shades of gray. Though the Scripture gives me principles for life, there are many decisions that require the guidance of the Spirit.  I am so thankful for His promise to create the mind of Christ in me.

When the confusion of competing voices makes me uncertain, I go to this word  – “But we know these things because God has revealed them to us by his Spirit, and his Spirit searches out everything and shows us even God’s deep secrets. No one can know what anyone else is really thinking except that person alone, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And God has actually given us his Spirit (not the world’s spirit) so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.” (1 Corinthians 2:10-12, NLT)

For an old man the safer choice, and often the most comfortable, is to hang onto the status quo.  There is so much appeal for me in these turbulent times to just say, “Not for me. I know what I know.”  If, however, we will not listen with a willingness to learn, we become people who are increasing isolated and ineffective for Christ Jesus. The world continues to spin, change continues today as it has since time’s beginning.  Let’s remember, too, that constant innovation that is not solidly grounded in truth will lead to disastrous consequences.

So, again, I circle around to ask, how do we choose?

Humility must be a part of the process that guides us. If we really want to know God’s leading, we need to have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying. He speaks to us through the Scripture, through the traditions of the church, and through dialogue with our brothers and sisters that can be intense. It’s that last part that I find most difficult! But in Proverbs I am reminded, “As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend.” (Proverbs 27:17, NLT) Wrestling with the truth helps us not only to discover it, but to own it. I am learning that a decision that does not allow for honest, open dialogue is usually not the best, nor wisest, one.

Prayerfulness, too, must always be part of a decision-making process. “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25, NIV) It is the Holy Spirit that gives us true wisdom. We find life when we find His way. We find His way by remaining in a place of intimate communion with Him. When prods our conscience, quickly we respond, “yes, Lord!” When He lifts His peace from us, we stop and wait and listen. When we grieve Him with willfulness, we repent quickly. This walk with the Spirit allows Him to ‘guide us into all truth.’ (John 16.13)

The worst choice has become all too common – apathy. God calls us to be people of passion for Him, for truth, for the salvation of our world.

Got a challenge today?
Not sure what is the right course?
God promises to lead. Let Him.
Listen to counsel.
Meditate on the Scripture.

The word from the Word tells us a great promise- “If you need wisdom—if you want to know what God wants you to do—ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking. But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. People like that should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:5-7, NLT)


This I Believe (The Creed)

Our Father everlasting
The all creating One
God Almighty
Through Your Holy Spirit
Conceiving Christ the Son
Jesus our Savior

I believe in God our Father
I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Our God is three in One

I believe in the resurrection
That we will rise again
For I believe in the Name of Jesus
Our judge and our defender
Suffered and crucified
Forgiveness is in You
Descended into darkness
You rose in glorious life

Forever seated high
I believe in You
I believe You rose again
I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord
I believe in life eternal

I believe in the virgin birth
I believe in the saints’ communion
And in Your holy Church
I believe in the resurrection
When Jesus comes again

For I believe in the Name of Jesus

Ben Fielding | Matt Crocker © 2014 Hillsong Music Publishing Australia (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

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