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?
6/25/2015 06:19:51 am
I remember when I first became a Christian I had that Wonder and Awe. I wish like anything that I could have that feeling back. I don't know that I ever will though. I was involved in Youth for Christ back then. So there were the camps in Colorado and small group meetings. Christian adult leaders who seemed to really care about you. Reading the bible for the first time without any critical thought. But there were also things that were not good like reading the book of Revelation along with Hals Late Great Planet Earth. I believed everything he said. So I was also naive. But that feeling I had was wonderful. So when I die and see that light everyone talks about I will experience that Wonder and Awe again.
6/25/2015 07:14:55 am
I know I'm consistently challenged to pursue both discernment and awe as well, and not see these as mutually exclusive. I think especially of Paul - how he pairs a passion for intellect and discernment (e.g. Rom 12:2; 2 Cor 10:5) WITH the capacity to have his socks knocked off by awe of God and worship of Him (e.g. Rom 11:33-36; Eph 3:14-21; Philippians 3:7-11).
Leave a Reply.
Christian. Husband. Father. Pastor. Learner. Contributor. Reader.