August 19, 2019

August 19, 2019

August 19, 2019
1 John 4:1-6
by Wil Cantrell
Clergy of Concord UMC (Knoxville, TN)
Tennessee Valley District

We live in an analytical world where almost every decision can be informed by hundreds of data points, yet our most important decisions usually depend more on a gut feeling than a logical analysis of recent trends. We might buy a car because of its reported reliability and resale value, but generally we choose our spouse based on the joy and trust their presence sparks in us rather than a cold-blooded study of their long-term earning potential or their most recent psychological evaluation completed by a trained professional. And while we may pick our investments based on judicious estimations of market trends, we generally select our careers to align with our greatest passions even if other jobs would offer us greater financial rewards.

God did not design us to live logical, manageable lives. God created us to live passionate, adventurous lives guided by the Holy Spirit. This is why John’s advise to us to “test the spirits” is so important. How can we pursue the life for which we were created without the guidance of the Creator? And how can we distinguish between the still small voice of the Holy Spirit and the conniving voices of greed, envy, and fear? When is it an act of humility to step aside to give someone else a voice and when is it an act of cowardice? When is it arrogant and prideful to step into the spotlight and take the lead and when is it a faithful, courageous response to God’s call upon our lives?

Thankfully, John offers us guidance in the difficult task of discernment:

This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. 1 John 4:2-3

The litmus test for our desires and passions is simple: Do they come from Christ? Do they lead our lives to more and more reflect the devotion, love, grace, peace, and courage we see in Jesus?

We have many tools for the task of discernment including prayer, study, and input from our faith community and closest friends. We must diligently apply these tools because we are all exceedingly well trained in the dark arts of self-deception. And as we do so, we can trust that while at times we may allow our daily concerns or subconscious fears to deafen us to the call of Christ, the Christ who pursued us all the way to Golgotha will never stop calling.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I thank you for calling me to find my life in your enveloping love. Make me sensitive to the whisperings of your Spirit so my life will come to reflect the holiness I see in you. Amen.