Dear GCI Family and Friends,
Back in April I was on a group email provisionally planning for a future event. My good friend Pastor Dishon Mills was on the same message. He ended his communication with the statement “This pandemic is making me more deeply appreciate being Spirit-led.”
I have heard others use the phrase Spirit-led, and I think I know what they mean. In this instance, I felt bold, so I wrote back to Dishon and asked, “What does the phrase Spirit-led mean to you”? He was kind enough to take the time to respond.
Hey Greg. I hope you are doing well. Sure, I can share what I believe I understand about “Spirit-led” so far, as I pray for God to continue to bring me clarity. One of our small groups has been studying the book of Acts, and one of the threads we have been following is the ways in which the emerging church discerned the will of God in a dangerous, confusing time. From Acts 15, we gleaned some thoughts about Spirit-led discernment:
- Discernment does not happen in isolation, but through Christ-centered conversations amongst a diverse group (diverse with regard to perspectives, backgrounds, gender, etc.) within the church.
- When we discuss an issue, we need to give priority to God’s present activity—what God is saying and doing in the church and in the intersection of the church and its community.
- Then, we need to look to Scripture for confirmation of what we hear from God and to temper our approach (this may require a shift in perspective).
- We establish doctrine, rules, and/or protocols based on what we discern. –
- (Point added by Greg) Then make the understanding known throughout the church. Acts 15:30 says they were sent out carrying the letter (news) with them.
So, for me, Spirit-led is a communal or relational term because it is through the life of the church that revelation comes. I believe this is true of Christians both individually and collectively. Yes, God does speak to us directly. He brings affirmation, conviction, and guidance to those willing to listen. While this may appear to be Spirit-led in an individual sense, this too is communal and relational. I believe the Bible teaches us that we should not concretize anything we believe we have heard from God until we have the opportunity to run it by trusted Jesus-loving counselors. The Holy Spirit always leads us into relationship. Practically every time I am “spontaneously” sent to minister to someone (i.e. call a member to check-in), I find that my efforts were an answer to prayer. His leading is confirmed in my conversations with brothers and sisters about what I heard God say. Or my bias is exposed in the conversation when I mistake my voice for God’s.
Nicely stated, Dishon. I feel strongly about the Spirit working with us within the community of the church. We are no longer Moses going to the mountain alone —we are the church participating with Jesus and joining in community and relationship. This means lots of discussion and sharing, lots of processing and discerning, and lots of prayers leading to the decision that “It seems good to the Holy Spirit and us.”
May we be the Christ-centered, Spirit-led church that brings glory to the Father!