Word of the Month

Let us discern things spiritually!

November 2005

"But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God." This is how a very clear and powerful letter written by Apostle Paul to the Corinthians begins (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Doesn't this already explain why we find so little resonance for our faith in this time, and why there are so many who have no idea at all what to make of our Church? Those who are naturally inclined - that is, those who are oriented toward the earthly - will pass up God's offers of grace. They will not absorb His word or receive the sacraments either. The grace of God is not comprehensible to the earthly-minded. And since there are so many naturally inclined people in our time - because so many peoples' lives revolve exclusively around this earthly existence - it is becoming more and more difficult to win souls for God's work in many regions. The activity of the Holy Spirit is something we cannot make plausible to the natural man, who is closed to that sort of thing. The Lord Jesus already said in His time on earth that the world would not be able to receive the Spirit of truth, because it doesn't even see Him.

Perceiving the activity of the Spirit is and remains a matter of faith and inner experience. Apostle Paul goes even further in his explanation, writing that the Spirit of God is foolishness to the earthly-minded man! People who are materialistically oriented will reject the activity of the Spirit. They have no idea what to make of it, and cannot recognise it for what it is. But these things need to be judged in the light of the Spirit. This also applies - or applies especially - to the concept of salvation for the departed: to many it is foolishness, but to us it is a certainty born out of faith. Of course, we must also evaluate certain things that come our way as thinking individuals, using worldly perspectives, for example when it comes to political developments. But above all, let us discern the time in which we live spiritually.

We live in a time that is defined by so many diverse offers. A great variety is offered on the religious market today: religions from the Far East, esotericism, and superstition are very popular in our days. This is also a time of wantonness: people believe that they can do just as they please. Another characteristic of our time is the endless uncertainty. Who in our time would even dare to plan for three, four, or even five years ahead of time?! That is the unspiritual perspective.

Now let me evaluate all this spiritually for a moment: our time is a time of decision. Even though many would like to avoid it, they cannot get around the fact that they will have to make a decision. Without a doubt, today's living conditions also cause uncertainty for many a child of God: many are unemployed, some even live on the edge of the poverty line and have concern upon concern. But if we look at this spiritually, we come to the conclusion: God wants us to endure and persevere with Him even through such conditions. I know very well that this is not always so easy!

Sometimes we stand there helplessly and are unable to find answers to urgent questions. In this time of decision and endurance, it is helpful to discern everything that comes our way spiritually. I interpret this passage as an admonition to us: let us discern everything spiritually - not naturally! In so doing we will have access to a great deal of good.

(From a service by Chief Apostle Leber)