|Posted by Donna Dawson on July 27, 2009 at 3:50 PM|
We live in strange times. Technology is racing forward. Moral boundaries are dropping en masse and society is left floundering. I was reminded of this via a recent email and it left me thinking about how important it is for us to know the Word.
After having posted my latest blog posting, I received an email from a gentleman who claimed that God had led him to my site. While I don't doubt that God has done and will continue to do this, I couldn't help but question the god this man serves. In this rather eratic email the man proceeded to tell me that he had been involved in much violence and criminal activity over the years and that God had kept him alive in spite of all the danger and folly he had engaged in. Again, I don't doubt that. Then he went on to say that God was angry with the world and he had chosen this man to pour his wrath on the evil people of society. He had suggested that I help him with his book which contained this message. That's when I put the breaks on. (I should clarify at this point that I have guided others with their manuscripts who have come from difficult criminal pasts and it has been a joy to see their lives transformed for Christ's honour.)
Discernment is something that can't be taught. It requires the sifting of spiritual elements and that is only something that God can do. So how was I to deal with this? Was this man right? Was God angry at the world? I had no doubt that God would not tell us to break the law unless it involved denying his truth. But was the man right about God's anger? I could understand that anger in view of so much corruption, death and twisting of his truths. So I prayed. I prayed for wisdom. I prayed for discernment. I prayed for an answer. It came in the form of a pastor's sermon this Sunday morning.
I had the priviledge of sitting in on a sermon about Jonah and if nothing else stuck out in my mind afterward, this one thing did and I quote. "Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the LORD, "O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. (emphasis mine)." Jonah 4:1-2 NIV. Did you see that? Slow to anger and abounding in love. Compassionate. Gracious.
I had my answer. And as though I needed to hear it more than once the pastor took us to Exodus 34:6-7 where the same thing is repeated almost verbatum. As I read those precious words I knew with certainty that this man was not sent from God and that he had no understanding of God. God is not angry and vengeful with this world. Yes, he will judge and yes, he is hurt by what we do. But he loves us with an immense love--with a fatherly love--a love that carries with it a hand of discipline and gentleness. Abounding in love. Slow to anger. This man was very wrong and had I jumped in without seeking God's discernment, he could have easily side-tracked the ministry God would have me do.
The need for discernment is stronger than ever. In a time where Christians are deviating from scripture, where pastors preach their opinions and twist scripture to validate them, where congregations live on the edge of rebellion, where busyness is the rule of thumb for all, it is vital that we dig into the Bible's truths and strive to live by them. Only in this way can we avoid the landmines that are disquised as straight paths.