As a follower of Jesus Christ and someone who cares about the value of loving God with our minds, one of the values I want to champion is discernment - thinking through and weighing issues, filtering what I hear (or read, or watch) to catch the "junk" and benefit from what's good.
Now, there's A LOT I could say about discernment if you got me talking about it (this won't be anywhere near exhaustive) - but I want to keep this post short and simple, and so I'm going to focus at a high level, on what I call my "Discernment Grid." (I really need to think of a better name for this.) What should the discernment we pursue look like? What abuses should it avoid?
Before we get to a graphic that illustrates how I approach this, let me briefly spell out two things:
1. Too often we use the value of discernment as an excuse for a critical spirit.
I'm not talking here about the good exercise of critical thinking; rather, I'm thinking of the unhealthy posture of a critical spirit - i.e., assuming bad motives, a default mode of pessimism, lack of graciousness, and persistent negativity. While there can be times we need to use strong language, this isn't necessarily the place to start.
2. Let's not lose the beauty of awe as we value discernment.
Those who value discernment can sometimes get so focused on the filter (i.e., catching the junk that shouldn't get through) that we miss the fresh water that gives life. In other words, we can lose the capacity for wonder, and awe.
With these comments in mind, here's a graphic I use to depict what we should strive for as we value discernment, and evils we should avoid. (The goal is to end up in the green quadrant.)
The bottom line? As follows of Jesus Christ who want to be theologically rich and biblically faithful, let's not be naive. And let's not foster a critical spirit. Instead, let's pursue a gracious discernment AND the capacity for wonder and awe.
What are some practical ways we can establish ourselves in the green quadrant - without sacrificing discernment or losing our capacity for awe?
Christian. Husband. Father. Pastor. Learner. Contributor. Reader.