Sermon for 23 August 2009
As we listen for the Word of God,
let us pray:
we have tasted, and you are good;
we have seen and touched you,
and your word feeds us for eternal life.
Keep us close to you,
trusting your promises,
for you are the Holy One of God,
and we can go to no other.
John 6. 56-69
- firstly, the Lord is in our midst
- secondly, we are a community with the Lord in its midst
I want to ask today how we go about discerning that. When we try to discern something as a body of Christ, we are trying prayerfully, together, to seek whether God is leading us a certain way.
I’ve said that I believe the Spirit is leading us to meet with the table in the midst, and the seating around it. I’ve talked about removing the platform as part of that vision.
Some people have heard me as saying that no matter what, I’ll get my way. Friends, that’s not what I’m saying. When someone has a vision, it needs to be tested and discerned by the body. Prayer needs to go into it. We need to appreciate the theological reasons why God may be calling us this way. But in the end, the body of Christ discerns the way forward.
There have been a few knee-jerk reactions. They are inevitable, but they are not discerning. Knee-jerk reactions need to be set aside so that we can prayerfully discern what God is indeed saying.
Discernment requires us to ask one sincere question: Could it be that this is God’s will for us now? If it is, then and only then we ask questions of cost. It means that we say with an open mind, What does God want?—and only then ask, How will we do this?
I’ve said I am not happy with a compromise. I wrestled with what to say about that, if anything. Let me say it more fully: compromise is never the first step in a time of discernment. We could compromise, but only because we discern that God’s will for us leads us in that way.
Let me put it this way. This is about three things:
1. discernment as a body of Christ
2. discernment as a body of Christ
3. discernment as a body of Christ
Just like buying a house!
With that in mind, let’s talk about discernment in general. Let’s look at how our Ephesians reading might help us to have the right spirit to discern together.
Paul is using the picture of a soldier on active service here. Of course, when Paul has the picture of a soldier in his mind, it’s not about a member of the Australian armed forces. It’s a Roman soldier of the first century, complete with breastplate, shield, helmet and sword.
If you’re in the army, you don’t wear your own clothes whilst on duty. You wear the clothes you’ve been given, not your own stuff.
It’s the same with us. When we are on active service for the Lord Jesus Christ, we wear what he has given us to wear. Then and only then, we’re equipped to serve.
So let’s look at wearing the armour of God to help us know how to discern a way forward.