[This blog series explains how to discern God’s will. Continue on to the full blog series HERE.]
You need to care about the insights of other Christians in your life. Their spiritual discernments matter because God often speaks in the context of community, not just exclusively to an individual.
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The only zoomed-in anecdote of a local church sending out missionaries in the New Testament is found in Acts:
Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. (Acts 13:1-3 ESV)
There are four main things to notice in this passage:
First, God speaks through His Holy Spirit (see last week’s post). The Holy Spirit still speaks today and calls people to mission!
Second, the Holy Spirit spoke to the church in the context of their local body. Notice the text says, “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said . . .” (emphasis added). In the New Testament, God typically speaks to people in the context of their spiritual community. This is one reason why it is so vitally crucial for a believer to prioritize living in community with other believers. If you do not, you may miss what God is calling you to!
Third, the Holy Spirit called the church to set apart Paul and Barnabas. The church took this calling seriously; so seriously that they fasted and prayed about it. When God calls people to go and serve cross-culturally as missionaries, they should be set apart, prayed and fasted for by their church community.
Tweet this: The Holy Spirit called the church to set apart Paul & Barnabas. The church took this calling seriously. @VergeNations
Fourth, the church commissioned Paul and Barnabas with the laying on of hands and by prayer. The laying on of hands is a ritual that helps us to affirm back to the Holy Spirit that we agree with God’s work and calling.
Therefore, as you discern God’s calling on your life, you should go and seek the counsel of your spiritual community as well as other respected Christian mentors and pastors. God speaks most typically in the context of community. Mentors, pastors, and the community that you are “doing life” with will help to affirm or deny your potential calling from God.
Have I shared God’s potential calling for me with my missional community?
Have I asked my missional community what they think I should do? Have they prayed with me and for me about this decision?
Have I shared the potential calling on my life with my respected mentors, pastors, or other leaders? What do they think God is calling me to do?
Photo Credit: Deutsche Fotothek [CC-BY-SA-3.0-de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons