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A Community of Discernment

• Greg Boyd

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.

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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.

  • The Gift of Spiritual Friendship by Dan Steigerwald
  • Renovare Formation Group Questions
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Topics: Community, Judgment, Sin


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Focus Scripture:

  • Colossians 3:14

    Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

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6 thoughts on “A Community of Discernment

    Michelle says: Monday July 8, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    Greg. “you have not been baptized as an adult, I encourage you to consider that. Sigh up for one of the classes. Doesn’t mean you’re going GET to be baptized, but just check it out, just to find out kinda why we do it the way we do.” Greg.. did people “sigh up for classes” with Jesus to ” find out kinda why” he did it the way he did? Did Jesus tell people that signing up for “one of the classes doesn’t mean you’re going GET to be baptized?” Did Jesus ever refuse to baptize anyone? If he did why? Thanks so much Greg for spreading God’s message of love. Your sermons inspire.

    Reply
    Denni says: Tuesday July 9, 2013 at 2:31 am

    Dear Pastor,

    Thank you for the message! it’s sooo liberating and inspiring! God bless your ministry!

    Reply
    Dave Pritchard says: Wednesday July 10, 2013 at 6:25 am

    “Discipleship” – Yes!, Yes!, and Yes!
    “Shepherding” – No Thank You Very Much!

    Reply
    Peter says: Wednesday July 10, 2013 at 7:16 am

    It is interesting within Greg’s series on love and judgment, that in the beginning man believes the Serpent’s temptation to be like God, knowing good and evil. In a sense, this would never be possible by a creature as this was not part of his creature powers…..God said that when you ate or touched the tree of good and evil you shall die….there was no mention of obtaining knowledge or additional powers….which, of course, was the serpent’s lie.

    So, inherent in man’s quest to go against God’s command, comes the judgment of the Creator and, because man (as created) is unable to know the difference between good and evil as God does, he has an impaired self serving ability to judge. The absence of truly knowing good and evil drives the social development of man in many directions, but essentially to depraved actions and ultimately judgment by the flood.

    It is only the intervention of God and the obedience of certain individuals that provides a form of salvation.

    Subsequently, with Israel becoming God’s chosen people and the instituting of laws and covenants by God that men are able “to know good and evil” (from God’s viewpoint) and to relate to each other and to God. However, this is essentially a structured mechanism and does not flow from the heart of man like it would have prior to the fall.

    Later in Ezekiel 11, God gives the following command:-

    “And I will give them one heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove their heart of stone from their bodies and give them a heart of flesh, so they may follow My statutes, keep My ordinances, and practice them. Then they will be My people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose hearts pursue their desire for detestable things and abominations, I will bring their actions down on their own heads.” [This is] the declaration of the Lord God .“

    With the arrival of Jesus, we are shown (if we can say it this way) the model of New Testament man…..as man was originally created to be. We find Jesus as the Son, only doing the will of His Father…Jn 14:9 :-

    Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”….. “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever– the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

    So just as Jesus was guided to do the will of the Father, so are we…..but this is not of our own efforts but the Spirit within us.

    It is interesting how Paul picks this up in at least two of his letters.

    Firstly, in in 1 Corinthians 2:10-16 where Paul is describing to the (problem child) Corinthian church the shortcomings of the natural man in making judgments compared with the Spiritual man, where the Spirit searches the deep things of God and provides this discernment to the believer that leads to Paul’s breathtaking conclusion “But we have the mind of Christ.” (1Cor 2:16)…although this is consistent with what Jesus has said.

    Secondly, in his letter to the Philippians 2:3-5, Paul says:-

    “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”

    Having the mind of Christ should/must become the case in a Christian’s life, then by obeying the Spirit’s direction, we will be seeking to act appropriately in all situations. This must be the preferred outcome so that we are constantly maturing by discerning the Spirit in our daily life and our interactions with others within the community.

    Where Greg has taken us to date on love and judgment has been as others have said, inspiring…..a postscript on having ‘the mind of Christ’ would be awesome.

    Reply

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