What came first the chicken or the egg? Are you someone who thinks it must be the chicken in order to lay the egg? Or must be the egg in order to hatch into the chicken? Or perhaps you think it must be both because the egg was always inside the chicken? Or perhaps you don’t think it matters at all? So, let me pose another conundrum. What comes first discernment or boldness?
Ever had a moment when someone has quoted back at you what you once told them? It usually starts with a statement like “you remember when you said…” or “but you told me that…” well it happened to me. A child had been praying for God to do something, and it happened. I was thrilled and could not understand why they were not as elated as I was. When I commented on how great it was they simply said “well you said God answers prayer” and then carried on with what they were doing. Well that told me!
I find that the older I have got, the longer I spend trying to discern the will of God. Discernment is a good biblical principle I hear you say. Yes, it is, after all we don’t want to be “tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). But, dare I suggest that maybe we sometimes spend a long time thinking, pondering, weighing up almost as an excuse for not doing? Then by the time we think that maybe God is saying yes do, it we have got ourselves into a panic and all courage has deserted us.
So is the person, and it’s often the young, who goes boldly forward lacking in discernment? Or is the person who is earnestly seeking discernment lacking in boldness?
For Baptists I, have always struggled with the need that some people must be ‘called’ to be baptised, when scripture tells us to ‘believe and be baptised’ one call to encompass both. Scripture encourages us to be followers of Jesus and, a witness to Jesus; called to share the good news, called to make disciples; I think we can agree that these biblical declarations are therefore a given. If that’s the case perhaps we need to accept the directive of scripture and know ourselves as those called to be boldly doing what scripture stirs us to.
If I see my neighbour in need, or am in a situation where I could share something of Jesus, I don’t think I need to wait for discernment; but I can discern that I just need the boldness to go ahead and ‘go for it’. I don’t want to see the younger generation lose their boldness because I am not showing them the way. “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God”. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
And so, what did come first? Well I don’t know about the chicken or the egg, and I’m not 100% sure about discernment and boldness. But I do know that if scripture exhorts us to go and make disciples, then I think we can discern that to be something we should be doing. I hope that we can get the right balance of so that we can be an effective missional people and disciple the next generation to be missional too. After all Paul came with fear and much trembling, but it did not stop him.