Friday, July 10, 2009

How do Followers of Christ Know What to Follow?

I am not going to get into all the things, people, movements, cults, etc. that some followers of Christ follow - just how the plan is supposed to work (at least according to Christ).

We are to follow Christ. However, how do we know what to follow? This post was inspired by conversations at Street Prophets with some folks who are "red letter" Christians - focusing on the words of Christ Himself only - and other strains of folks who take their guidance in different ways.

This is the exchange that triggered this post:

Moi: Jesus made it pretty clear that the only judge was God; and the only true guide was the Holy Spirit resident in us.

Other: No . . . the true guide was his only begotten son that he sent here to save ourselves from ourselves. To point out the errors of our ways and to direct us to the path that the JUDGE wants us to follow. What judge here or in heaven will reward you if his instructions are not followed?
I was wrong: God isn't the judge, Jesus is actually. These are both persons of the same triune God - but it is the person of Jesus, sitting on the right hand of God, who will judge us and "the Nations". Technically, it is also Jesus who leads us - but how did He say that would be accomplished:
John 16:4 . . . “I did not tell you these things from the beginning because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you is asking me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Instead your hearts are filled with sadness because I have said these things to you. 7 But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I am going away. For if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you, but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong concerning sin and righteousness and judgment – 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. 12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. For he will not speak on his own authority, but will speak whatever he hears, and will tell you what is to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you. 15 Everything that the Father has is mine; that is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you.
So, there are no easy "written in book" answers in life. Now, those that know me know that I believe that the Bible is the Word of God. They also know I believed it is the inspired Word of God - and that it is still valid today. However, as Paul pointed out,
1 Corinthians 2:9 But just as it is written, “Things that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mind imagined, are the things God has prepared for those who love him.” 10 God has revealed these to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things that are freely given to us by God. 13 And we speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom, but with those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. 14 The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The one who is spiritual discerns all things, yet he himself is understood by no one. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to advise him? But we have the mind of Christ.
It is the Spirit of God resident in us that gives us the "mind of Christ" so that we can understand what God wants us to understand. This is why it has never been effective to quote Bible verses to folks who do not have the Spirit of God to lead them - for them the truth of God is nonsense. It is effective for a follower of Christ to go to the Word of God often and deeply to see what the Spirit of God wants the follower to understand about the Will of God for their life.

Also, we know Jesus focused not on the actions we perform, but the heart behind those actions - the reasons we act. If our actions follow where the Holy Spirit leads us - then we glorify God. Those same actions, for other reasons, may not glorify God at all - but only our own reason, desires, etc. They may only indicate, as the Old Testament often said, that we "did what was right in our own eyes".

1 comment:

  1. Hello,

    You're right about the inner motivations of our actions being Jesus' concern. Whenever I read through John I get a real kick out of how Jesus constantly got into discussions with the Jewish leaders over law motivation vs. the heart motivation. Seeing as the Jewish nation had become basically an automaton group worshiping the law rather than the Spirit. Even the regular person on the street could see this, as is evidenced by the blind man made whole, who also argued with the Jewish leaders over the person of Christ as they refused to change their thinking even in the midst of his healing.


How to debate charitably (rules are links to more description of rule):
1. The Golden Rule
2. You cannot read minds
3. People are not evil
4. Debates are not for winning
5. You make mistakes
6. Not everyone cares as much as you
7. Engaging is hard work
8. Differences can be subtle
9. Give up quietly