Peaceful, easy leading

My daughter was showing me something in her Youthwalk Devotional Bible the other day. They had a little sidebar topic called “Inner C’s for Inner Peace”. It gave three C’s to find the will of God. For the most part, I thought it was bunk.

(By the way, that seems to be how things have been going recently. I’m finding a lot that I disagree with nowadays — and these are things that I’ve been believing for some time. But I digress.)

Here are the three C’s:
1. Common Sense
2. Contentment
3. Compulsion

Regarding Common Sense, the authors make this statement, which I’ve often heard elsewhere: “Christianity is a rational faith. God is a logical God.” I agree with the latter, and disagree with the former, and here’s why: I’ve made a distinction between what is “rational” and what is “logical”.

I really don’t think that Christianity is a rational faith at all. One dictionary defines the word as “agreeable to reason; not absurd, preposterous, extravagant, foolish, fanciful, or the like.” Yet how many times has God asked this very thing of his followers? Those familiar with their Bibles can easily think of times when God has required the absurd and preposterous (Moses standing up to Pharoah), the extravagant (sell everything you have), the foolish (Peter getting out of the boat), and the fanciful (the hope of heaven). Christianity is anything but a rational faith, and those who present it as such are draining it of its power.

By contrast, I do believe God is a logical God. That is, his actions are consistent and predictable, at least on a large scale. For example, he has claimed that he wants to redeem a people that he can call his own, and we see that this is just what he is doing. His actions may not be rational (as defined above), but they are definitely logical.

The authors’ second point is Contentment, and that’s what my daughter disagreed with. She pointed at this statement: “Being in God’s will should result in an inner peace in your life.” She laughed and said, “I believe God has told me not to date. But I’m sure not happy about it!” I couldn’t help but think of the many, many saints before her who did the will of God, whether they felt contentment or not. Moses is a great example again. I never read that Moses prayed about what God told him at the burning bush, and when he “had a peace” about it, he proceeded. No, I can imagine that Moses had anything but peace in his heart as he walked toward Egypt. Of course, there are any number of other examples of people obeying God whether they felt contentment about it or not.

So the third point, Compulsion, seems to be the one that is most consistent with how God has dealt with us in the past. Whether the compulsion is an inner impression (Acts 20.22), a decision made after prayer and counsel (Acts 13.2, Acts 15.22), or supernatural encounter (Acts 9.10), God tells us what he wants us to do, and expects us to obey, regardless of whether we are peaceful or believe it to be rational.

To be fair to the authors of this sidebar, they said that these guidelines don’t hold true for every situation. However, I am leery of advising anyone that their own inner state is the rule for measuring whether God is speaking. My own inner state is much too conflicted, weak, and unreliable for any such measurement.

6 thoughts on “Peaceful, easy leading”

  1. Skipper,
    In the final paragraph you say”However, I am leery of advising anyone that their own inner state is the rule for measuring whether God is speaking. My own inner state is much too conflicted, weak, and unreliable for any such measurement.” I agree. The gist of the the Three C’s, though probably unintentional, reminds me of the Mormon idea of a “burning in the bosom” method of truth knowing.

  2. Maybe the contentment refers to a common idea in seeking God’s will: You’re looking at two things that both seem good, both have pros and cons, and you can’t decide between them.

    Once you settle on one, you suddenly have this peace that allows you to sleep less fitfully and pray more enthusiastically, etc. Viola! That’s the one God wanted you to choose!

    Maybe. Maybe they were both fine, and God will be honored if you proceed honorably either way.

    I’m certainly guilty of sitting around wondering at God’s will instead of just doing something, and this may have been meant as a spur to action, settling on something and doing it.

    There isn’t, however, any Biblical precedent for this as far as I know.

  3. Not sure what you’re referring to (“no biblical precedent”), djayt. If you are wondering about a biblical precedent for doing something and seeing what God will do, Greg’s talk on Sunday about Jonathan fits the bill for me. He did the old “let’s see what happens when I do this” routine (1 Sam 14).

    A number of years ago, I knew a guy who used a coin toss to decide between two options (urim and thummim, anyone?). Heads for A, tails for B. If it landed on heads and he thought, “Oh, I didn’t want that,” then he’d do B. I’m not sure how wise this was, but it definitely kept him from doing nothing.

  4. I meant essentially going by how you feel when you think about something. If it makes you uneasy-bad. If you feel peace-good.

    This going by feeling is where I couldn’t think of a Biblical precedent. I’m all for proceeding as you feel led. Especially as it requires proceeding.

    Of course, you could refer to “feeling” as the leading of the Spirit.

  5. I wonder if we (that is, Christians in general) are confusing “feeling led” with “feelings”. If I don’t FEEL like doing something, then I think God hasn’t told me to.

    I’ve also heard this: doing something without having the proper motivation is “just works”. So we avoid doing things because it would be “in the flesh”, an offering Jesus would not accept.

    Sometimes I think we need to do things because they are the right things to do, regardless of how I feel personally about doing them. If I don’t feel cheerful about giving (and we know God loves a cheerful giver), I should give anyway, because it’s the right thing to do.

  6. I agree with your point of view skipper. There are some things I just do not want to do. I actually can think of myriad of said things (can you imagine?). But as one person put it: “God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage!”

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