In this week’s sermon, Greg contrasts the difference between judgment and discernment. He distinguishes the place, people, and purpose in which discernment, between helpful and un-helpful things, should occur for Kingdom people.
In our study of Colossians 3:14, we have set love as our central mission in all we do as Kingdom people. In order to put love at the center, we have established the need to put aside all judgments. In any way we choose to judge another person, we are eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and attempting to judge others as only God can. We are to trust that what the cross says is true—that every person has unsurpassable worth and agreeing with this is what brings freedom to our lives. When we judge as only God can, we are not able to love as God does. There is another call on the lives of those people in God’s covenant family, however, and that is discernment.
Discernment is distinctly different than judgment. Discernment is speaking into another person’s life with which you have a close relationship. When we willingly enter into a covenant with God, we are now called to help one another live consistently in a Kingdom life. In order to understand discernment, as found in the New Testament, we must first understand the ways in which the early church functioned. Prior to 400 A.D. the early church gathered in homes, with no more than 20-30 people. Each church functioned like a small military battalion stationed in enemy-occupied territory. They were in covenant relationship with God and each other, helping to fight against the dominant powers of the culture, in order to live a distinctly different Kingdom type of life.
Today, church is often a place we go once a week to sing worship music and hear a sermon among strangers. The church, in that sense, is not one in which discernment can take place. People’s lives are complicated. To think we have the wisdom to speak into another person’s life when both parties haven’t agreed to this kind of relationship is like setting a bull loose in a China shop. It is bound to have catastrophic consequences. This doesn’t mean that Christians today aren’t supposed to engage in close relationships where discernment is relied upon. We should be seeking out small groups of people, as few as 2 or 3 others, to give permission to help us on our journey to become Kingdom people.
As Kingdom people we must go beyond Sunday morning services, in order to relate to one another in close-knit communities. This thought can be difficult in our Western culture—a culture that places our right to pursue self-interests and emphasizes tolerating any other person doing the same. The Kingdom of God, however, does not begin with the pursuit of our individual self-interests. The Kingdom begins when we die to our self-interests to live a life centered around furthering God’s will on earth. The Kingdom isn’t about everyone tolerating everyone else. The Kingdom is about everyone loving everyone else and entering into a covenant to help accomplish God’s plan together.
The following are resources Greg mentioned in this weeks sermon.
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- The Gift of Spiritual Friendship by Dan Steigerwald
- Renovare Formation Group Questions