Sunday, September 16, 2007

Reason and Revelation: Reason (Part 2)

Reasoning with Others
"Jesus said to them, 'I will also ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John was from what source, from heaven or from men?' And they began reasoning among themselves, saying, 'If we say, "From heaven," He will say to us, "Then why did you not believe him?" But if we say, "From men," we fear the people; for they all regard John as a prophet.' And answering Jesus, they said, 'We do not know.'" (Matthew 21:24-27)
There were many things wrong with the reasoning process used by the chief priests and the elders of the people, least of which was that they "reasoned among themselves". One of the ways we reason is in the company of other people. Reasoning with others is not always a bad idea. When Paul had a dream at night, he submitted the revelation to those who were traveling with him.
"A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us.' When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them." (Acts 16:9-10)
After hearing and considering the revelation, the entire party "concluded" that it was a word from the Lord and that He was calling them into Macedonia to preach the Gospel. Reasoning with others can be a good idea, the problem comes in our selection of, and the quality of, those we chose to reason with.

Rehoboam has succeeded his father Solomon as king of Israel. The people came to him and requested of him that he lighten the load and burden that his father had placed upon him. Rehoboam first turned to the elders that had served his father. Their counsel was, "If you will be kind to this people and please them and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever." (2 Chronicles 10:7) However, Rehomoam rejected the counsel of the elders and turned instead to the counsel of the young men who had grown up with him and served him. Their counsel was, "Thus you shall say to the people who spoke to you, saying, 'Your father made our yoke heavy, but you make it lighter for us.' Thus you shall say to them, 'My little finger is thicker than my father's loins! Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.'" (2 Chronicles 10:10-11) Rehoboam listened to the counsel of the young men and, as a result, the people revolted and the nation of Israel was divided.

Rehoboam's problem was that he limited the spear of people he reasoned with to those who were like him and who agreed with him. He specifically chose people who would give him the counsel he desired and who would not challenge his assumptions, conclusions, or will. We often do this in the church as well. We set up small groups around common beliefs, activities, or ministries. For example, all the prophetic people get together in one group while the teachers are in another. We separate out the young and the elderly into their own groups. We have separate groups for young parents and empty nesters. We have two Sunday services, one traditional and one charismatic, so that people can be comfortable in their own group.

When we limit our reasoning to be with others who reason like us, we can miss much of what God wants to show us. It can be likened to two groups who are studying an elephant. One group positioned in the rear and one in front of the elephant. As long as the members of each group only consider the reasoning of others in their group, they will only ever have one view of an elephant. However, if the two groups share revelation and reason between them, they will all have a more complete understanding of elephants. Elephants are multifaceted, and so is God.
"So that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places." (Epheasians 3:10)
No one, by themselves, is able to fully comprehend the manifold, or multifaceted, wisdom and grace of God. However, if we are willing to listen to and consider the revelation and reasoning of others, even those who are different from us or who might disagree with us, we will be embracing a process that can lead us to a fuller understanding of God, His Kingdom, and His creation.

David Robison

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