Discerning Church Learning to discern the movement of God's Spirit

The Proper Posture

Discerning is a continual process. Once we think we have it nailed, God reveals something new. We are sometimes discouraged, not sure where God is leading. Yet, this is the nature of relationship. It is impossible to relate to someone if there is no interaction.

The stifling of our relationship with God often begins with us. A.W. Tozier in The Pursuit of God describes dysfunction in our relating to God. He describes man’s attitude.

“He adopted toward God an altered attitude, and by so doing destroyed the proper Creator-creature relation in which, unknown to him, his true happiness lay.” (944)

We have taken on the role of Creator, asking God to submit to our agenda. We have mixed up the “Creator-creature” dynamic. Tozier describes the essence of the problem.

“Much of our difficulty as seeking Christians stems from our unwillingness to take God as He is and adjust our lives accordingly. We insist upon trying to modify Him and to bring Him nearer to our own image.” (960)

Discerning requires a proper stance before God, a posture of submission. While some may see this as limiting, relinquishing ourselves to God is ultimately a liberating experience.

“The man who surrenders to Christ exchanges a cruel slave driver for a kind and gentle Master whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light.” (995)

Failure to discern is often linked with an improper stance before God. One of the central tenets of listening to the Spirit is submission to the Spirit. This is not a popular topic. Submission is a four-letter word in our culture. Yet we must learn the power of servility and the freedom that results in giving ourselves to God. Jesus makes this point.

In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:33 NIV)

May we learn this posture as discerning churches.