When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.
Some things in life are better explored than explained such as an alpine trail lined with wildflowers, the Basilica Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, the shoreline of Galilee, or even chocolate ice cream. Explanations just can’t do them justice.
The same is true of a relationship to God. It can be explained to death, literally. We quote Scriptures, memorize cute aphorisms, and read books trying to understand it. We have sought to understand him with our heads and missed the joy of discovering how God makes himself known, and how his purpose in the world is revealed each day. Many who can talk about God in eloquent terms have no idea how to live in him with grace and affection through the difficult challenges of living in a broken world. They have never explored it.
Perhaps the most significant proof of this, other than what I’ve observed with people, is drawn from the way Jesus lived. He walked this out very differently than we try to. For instance, he wasn’t preoccupied with a Sunday meeting or building an institution he called church. He was more interested in letting the reality of the kingdom flow through him in the encounters he had each day. It’s why he could spend an afternoon with a woman at a well, or on the hillsides above Galilee with a large crowd.
It’s incredible to me that we don’t seem to take much note of that. We act as if Jesus went to church every week to sing songs and listen to a lecture. He did no such thing, and, no, that’s not what going to the synagogue was like. He didn’t tell his disciples that’s what he wanted them to do every week. As far as we know, he never organized a single meeting, except for serving the Passover in the upper room, and even that didn’t take him long.
He seemed to wake up every day and navigate the circumstances and choices of his life with an eye to his Father’s unfolding purpose in the world. He shared the kingdom with others freely even as he sought to help the disciples learn to do it too. Even there, he didn’t hold an extensive array of classes teaching them all the intricacies of God’s attributes nor the mechanics of the kingdom of God. He didn’t offer them outlines of God’s characteristics or teach them a process for letting God’s power work through them. He didn’t offer them a curriculum, he let them watch it in his own life and explore that new reality in their own. He was offering them a different way to live—in a Father’s love, in power greater than their own efforts, in the growing simplicity of learning to trust his love.
He knew you couldn’t learn those things in a classroom or from a book. Real life has to be explored, and he encouraged them to do so—to ask questions, to struggle with their own fleshly ambitions, and to taste the power of his Spirit. At times, he even sent them to discover that they could pass the life of the kingdom on to others.
It is evident to me now that he wanted them to explore the kingdom, not analyze it. He knew they could only understand it by experiencing it, not by reducing it to a set of facts or propositions. The people I know who live most freely in the kingdom are those who are discovering it, not in seminars and classes, but in the circumstances of their own lives—a woman betrayed by her husband, a man who’s lost his job because of lies told about him, a mother whose son was convicted of murder, or a child tempted to betray his conscience for the approval of his friends. I am often asked if I have a discipleship curriculum I can recommend to others, or at least a resource to help them know the Lord better.
The curriculum for your journey is not in the Bible or some workbook based on the Bible. I know this gets me labeled as a heretic by some, but the curriculum for God’s work in you is in the Spirit himself. That’s why Jesus said that he would send the Comforter and he would guide us into all truth. He didn’t say he’d send us a book to follow, because you cannot follow a book. He didn’t entrust it to religious leaders. His Spirit alone can show us how to engage God in the reality you live every day.
Don’t get me wrong here. I’m a Bible guy. All the wisdom we need is in God’s revelation of himself, but it is the Spirit that helps us make sense of his words as they fit into our experience. I know people well-learned in the Scriptures, who can argue theology with precision, but who have no life flowing in them. And, I know people who live by their feelings, thinking their every whim is the Spirit’s direction. They both flounder because in the end, we are still interpreting our own journey, instead of learning to listen and to rely on his indwelling Spirit.
Jesus didn’t tell us to live by our intellect or feelings alone, but by a growing sensitivity to the leading of his Spirit. And where does he make himself known? In the unfolding events of your life. Look no further than in the circumstances that already surround you and the internal thoughts you have in dealing with them. How can you love the people around you the way Father wants them loved? What is he showing you about the things that perplex you, cause you anxiety, or distract you from the life you truly want to live? I’ve come to conclude that the best way to learn how to live in the Father’s kingdom is by exploring it one day at a time.
How is he revealing himself to you today? What is he asking of you, if anything? Ask him to show you. Carve out time regularly that will take you away from the hustle and bustle of life to listen for him and look for him, letting his thoughts percolate to the top of your own. Seek him in prayer, not as a ritual to be rewarded, but learning to converse with One who loves you deeply and wants to show you the best way to navigate the circumstances in your life. This is where Scripture becomes incredibly valuable as you probe God’s thoughts with his words. Then, follow him as best you see him, learning by trial and error what is the voice of the Spirit and what are your own ambitions.
Taste and see that the Lord is good, that his ways are far better than ours. Come and learn that the impressions you so quickly reject, because they don’t make sense, are actually his nudging you into greater freedom. Discover just how loved you are. You can hear it explained until your mind is numb, but you can only discover it when you explore it, even entrusting your unresolved questions to him.
Embrace that, not only for yourself but in helping others with their journey as well. Rather than trying to explain it all to them, coach them on how to explore it with the help of the Holy Spirit.
March 29-30 – Morgantown, WV
March 31 – Trafford, PA (Pittsburgh)
April 26-28 – Tjome, Norway (Tonsberg)
April 29-May 3 – Pescara, Italy
May 3-5 – Dinhard ,Switzerland (Zurich)
May 6-8 – Vallorbe, Switzerland
I am also planning on going to Kenya and Uganda this summer as well as in discussions about visits to Florida, southern Illinois, Atlanta again, among other places, You can keep checking my Travel Schedule, or if you’d like to be notified if I’m planning to visit your area, you can sign up on our email listand include your address <http://eepurl.com/bJ43Ar>.
In Case You Missed it…
Here are some of the podcasts and blogs that have generated the most interest over the last couple of months.
Podcasts at TheGodJourney.com:
Wayne’s blog at Lifestream.org