Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2
I am not a sailor. Maybe you are. So, forgive my ignorance of the whole experience, and please forgive my stealing of this illustration…but it seems to me that sailing involves a whole lot of hard work and attention to details, on the one hand, and a lot of being still and waiting on the wind to blow, on the other hand. In that way, it is a lot like the church.
I once heard one of the important spiritual mentors in my life say: “I don’t like 5-year strategic plans for the church…I am always afraid we will reach the 5-year goal and have missed out on what God wanted for us.” When I was a young leader in the church, that truly spoke to me. It pretty much rocked my world. I learned that God does want God-sized things for His people. He does want to show us great and amazing things of which we cannot even conceive. We really do get so wrapped up in our planning and our business-like approach to spiritual things that we end up missing God completely…sometimes. I think those were valuable lessons for me to learn as a young leader. I definitely needed to expand my vision of God and of His sovereignty.
But there is another side to scripture. There is a very practical side to it. There is Jesus asking the question, “What kind of man sets out to …
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”… Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:24-25, 29
The ears and the mind are necessarily connected. That is because hearing requires much more than just ears. When we were children, we could hear the wind blowing through a sea shell but we thought we were “hearing the ocean”. We could hear just fine, but we could not discern very well. Now, as I get older (alas), I am finding that my ears don’t always hear very well. I can be sitting with you in a crowded restaurant, trying to hear what you are saying and my “discernment” has to kick in so that I can make up for what my ears cannot hear. I suppose that balance shifts more and more with time.
Interestingly, our Spiritual hearing works in a similar way. When we are young (spiritually), we don’t discern all that well. We may hear God’s voice, but we hear it along with all the noise and may not have the spiritual maturity to discern that which is God and that which is other. I believe we develop that discernment over time, with the help of the Spirit. I also believe this spiritual skill is critical to our life together in the church. Wasn’t that the point of Jesus’ lesson to Thomas in John 20?