I wonder if every church has them. Their profile is not hard to spot. They wear the cloth of disenchantment with authority. They chaff at rules or the appearance of any type of rigidity. They love to question the motives of those who make decisions. They take pride if the crowd goes left in going right. They wear their stubbornness as a badge of courage and refuse to bend. Don’t ever tell them they must do something for the word “must” is a dirty word.
If being right is most important, listening may be a lost cause. There is a cost for preferring stubbornness to sensitivity, opinion to grace. For isn’t it true that there still remain churches:
Highway 58 in Virginia is a beautiful four lane road that eventually ends in the Norfolk, Virginia Beach area for those who are traveling east. Tiny towns like Edgerton and Capron straddle the road. We have crossed through a great number of small communities in our adventure across America. It’s absolutely amazing how many First Baptist Churches exist! But another most surprising pattern emerged—in town after town our eyes were drawn to the neon beckon of the local palm reader.
Nehemiah 9:19-21--You did not abandon them in the wilderness because of Your great compassion. During the day the pillar of cloud never turned away from them, guiding them on their journey. And during the night the pillar of fire illuminated the way they should go. You sent Your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold Your manna from their mouths, and You gave them water for their thirst. You provided for them in the wilderness 40 years and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not swell.
Psalm 10:1--Lord, why do You stand so far away? Why do You hide in times of trouble?
Ecclesiastes 7:10--Don’t say, “Why were the former days better than these?” since it is not wise of you to ask this.
Jeremiah 12:1--You will be righteous, Lord, even if I bring a case against You. Yet, I wish to contend with You: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the treacherous live at ease?
Habakkuk 1:13--Your eyes are too pure to look on evil, and You cannot tolerate wrongdoing. So why do You tolerate those who are treacherous? Why are You silent while one who is wicked swallows up one who is more righteous than himself?
Matthew 13:10—Then the disciples came up and asked Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”
Mat.17:19--Then the disciples approached Jesus privately and said, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
At 2:47 a.m. the house shuddered. I looked over at my sleeping wife and asked if she had noticed anything. Since the dogs were not barking and I felt no sense of urgency, I drifted back to sleep. About a half an hour later, the doorbell rang and our two canines erupted. I opened the door to two policemen, bright flashing lights and the reality that an abandoned car sat atop the berm in front of our home.
Man’s perceptions are often not in line with God’s intentions. Had Jesus chosen to heed the opinions of his key men, the dynamic dozen when they:
Have you ever asked the question, "How do I know when God is speaking to me?" I remember vividly as if it were the very day, a choice I had to make over twelve years ago. The decision involved where I was to go in serving God with an organization called The Navigators. Some of my closest friends and counselors advised me to stay in the region where I had lived for the past four years. Other close friends and family advised me to leave and serve in a region to which I had been invited. It was a very difficult time because people's emotions were stirred and strong rational thoughts were presented by both sides. I chose to go for two reasons: 1. Throughout the process I had a persistent sense that God wanted me to go. 2. God confirmed His direction for me through a Bible passage in the book of Isaiah. Looking back, it is clear that going was the right decision.
Proverbs 19:20--Listen to counsel and receive instruction so that you may be wise later in life
Are there times when we know either from God’s Word or from the Holy Spirit’s leading what we are to do, and do not proceed because of insecurity or a unwilling heart? If I sense the Lord directing me and choose instead to go after the advice of others, I may miss what God has for me.