Monday, September 17, 2012

Discernment





Scripture

“Moreover, they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.
(Ezekiel 44:23 NASB)

 

Observation


God is speaking through his prophet and is preparing a way for when the exiles will return. The Levites are again to fulfill their duties and function as priests, one of which is to teach the people about things which are holy and profane so that they can discern between clean and unclean. The priests are not just to be serving God in the temple but to be the ones who teach and train the people of God -- to be the people of God.

 

Application


These days it seems as if "anything" goes. Society has taught us that being "tolerant" means that we have to accept every single behavior as "acceptable" behavior. The problem with this is that the church has developed a couple of responses to this. One is a rather rigid response that truly is not "tolerant," or rather, shall we say is not loving toward the sinner. Jesus must be our example in this regard. As we think back on the sinners whom he met along the road -- whether Zacchaeus, the woman at the well, the demon possessed, the lepers, or the woman caught in adultery -- he did not condemn them. Instead he showed compassion on them, met them at the point of their deepest need, but then instructed them to go and sin no more. When the church becomes rigid, she becomes incapable of reaching out to the very ones who need the touch of the church. This is where followers of Christ, and especially church leadership must pray for discernment. We must pray for God's leading that allows us to be faithful to God and to what we believe, while at the same time being able to reach out and minister to those who so desperately need a solution to their life problems.

A second response is one in which we simply put our seal of approval on everything. The attitude of acceptance and love is to reach out to those who are outside of the faith community but there must be discernment among those within the faith community. Within the faith community there must be discernment and teaching regarding clean and unclean, holy and profane. One area within the church where we have let down our guard is in regard to living together before marriage. All the world does it! It's the normal progression of things on television -- so, why can't we all in the church do the same thing? The progression of a relationship, according to the world, seems to be -- go on a date, sleep together, move in together, have a child together, think about getting married. This type of behavior is literally eating at the very fiber of our society leaving us with poverty levels in the United States not seen since the great depression. Why? Because the number of single mothers has skyrocketed -- because we have the system wrong -- because even the church is not being discerning. If we have children before there is a commitment to a marriage, why do we think that there will be a commitment to raising that child? Secular statistics show that living together before marriage results in a 50% greater chance of the marriage ending in divorce. The priests of Ezekiel's day were to teach their people the right way to live -- a life of discernment. This is a challenge to the church of today. In a world which doesn't want to hear about things which are right and wrong, there are certain issues about which the church needs to be prophetic and be willing to speak out and teach the people of God to be discerning. The priests of God must take responsibility to teach discernment.

There are many more issues which the church is facing today and the leadership must determine how to be discerning. Yes, marriage is an issues, but so is pornography, drug use (making meth) and a general lack of discipline among our people. God is calling us to be a holy people. Maybe we need to not look around and condemn others, but begin with ourselves and ask God to give us a heart of discernment so we know the difference between the holy and the profane -- and not just know it, but embrace it until we ourselves are new.

 

Prayer


Lord, please give me a heart and mind of discernment and lead me so that I can know how to lead others. Amen.

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