“We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.” - John 4:16
This is our final message about discerning the Holy Spirit in our lives. We often think that discerning the movement of the Holy Spirit is a passive spiritual discipline. But it’s active and often it requires that we go out into the world and do good. God is love. If we are the hands and feet of Jesus, we have to get out there and be love in this world in order to grow. When it comes to discernment, the act of doing can teach us more than we could imagine.
It’s like the difference between saying you want to do something and actually doing it. We have to get in the habit of doing good works—acts of love—to abide in God. Theory and practice are not the same thing. Theory informs practice, but practice also informs theory. I always felt skeptical of a professor of pastoral care who had never been a pastor. Being in ministry shapes my theology as importantly as studying theologians. Study by itself is not enough.
It’s very different to learn about love, think about love, talk about love than it is to go out face-to-face with other people and be loving. Our experiences shape us—both when we love well and when we don’t (we learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes). Our experiences should shape us—remember it was experiences of the Holy Spirit moving in people that shaped the earliest church in Acts. If they had stayed in that Upper Room they never would have discerned the movement of the Holy Spirit.
God is love and part of discerning the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives is actually doing good in this world. I encourage you to nurture the spiritual discipline of good works in your life. Open your mind and heart to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to you through those experiences.
Grace and peace, Rev. Sarina