I say that discernment is a gift of the Holy Spirit that is most needed today and the least utilized. The spiritual gift of discernment, in fact, has become the enemy of the church and our religious life as we know it. Here’s why:
Discernment is defined as the ability to see something that is not very clear or obvious; to understand something that is not immediately obvious; or to be able to tell the difference between two or more things. It is keenly selective judgement. That’s a gift of the Spirit that is for the church to use. It is for the benefit of the church. Why? Because the church is inundated, even plagued with all kinds of spirits, some good, some bad. Even demons masquerade as angels of light, and they do this especially in the church, among her members, pastors, leaders, committees, theology and practice. Rampant! So it is important to acquire and practice this gift of discernment to tell which spirits are true and which are false, that manifest themselves finally in good or bad theology and good or bad practice.
Why is it the moment then that someone critiques what someone says or does or what the church says or does, he or she is labeled a sarcastic, depressing, critical rebel? I think the false spirits are having a free-for-all right now because criticism within the church is strongly discouraged and even penalized, and criticism from outside the church is simply ignored. Religion and the church, like any other human institution, is militantly self-interested and self-protective. Criticisms, admonishments, judgments… anything that calls into question anything a religious person, a religion or a church says or does… is met with violent repercussions.
Here’s a call for people to pray for, acquire, accept, embrace and practice the gift of discernment. Put that together with the gift of prophecy and look out! Things will get really hot then! But we need it. The church needs it. And we need it now before this foolish plague becomes epidemically impossible to reverse.
The fine art photo was taken by my friend Mark Hemmings.