Discernment is the spiritual process through which we determine what is “of God” and what is “of man” or “of the ego.” As our spiritual journey unfolds, we are invited to seek what is of God and leave behind what is “of man.”
Those Naughty Apostles
In the Acts of the Apostles, the Apostles of Christ are called before the Sanhedrin and admonished for preaching in Jesus’ name. Their response? “We must obey God, rather than men.” (Acts 5: 27-33). I’m thinking the Sanhedrin weren’t very happy with their response. I’m also thinking the Catholic Church and other religious institutions might not be too happy with us if we offer this in response to their demands for “obedience.” Having been raised Catholic, I can’t help but recall all the people in the history of the Church, and even in our modern-day who have taken these words to heart, and gotten in trouble for it: Joan of Arc, Galileo, Hildegard of Bingen, Francis of Assisi, Martin Luther, Edwina Gateley, William M. Morris, Roy Bourgeois, just to name a few. But you know what, sometimes being obedient to God appears “naughty” to those who hold the power and control and want to continue to wield it.
Naughty like the Apostles
If, however, we ever hope to become mature spiritually, this kind of naughtiness is not only invited, but necessary. In order to fully embrace the person God has called us to be, we have to turn away from that which is “of man” in preference to that which is “of God.” And sometimes, what is “of God” challenges that which is “of man.” (ok, most of the time!)
But How Do we Know?
But the question is, how do we know what is “of God” and what is “of man” (or “of the ego”)? The answer is DISCERNMENT. It is through discernment that we come to understand what it is we are called to be obedient to. So here is a quick summary of how we can begin to discern if something is of God or of man and where we are called to place our allegience:
Something that is of God will:
- Bring us and lead us toward and support peace, harmony, contentment and joy
- Be rooted in compassion and love
- Be expansive, growth-filled, life-giving
- Be empowering
The things “of man” (or of the ego) will:
- Be Rooted in fear, power and control
- Be Constricting
- Will make us smaller, less-than, limited
- Be life-sucking, draining,
- Be based in separation, intolerance, prejudice
- Be dis-empowering
The question is, where do you place your obedience?
Authentic Freedom Ministries