I’ll start things out with a simple thought process I like to use when I’m wondering what God’s take is on a topic. It’s nothing original, but I find it a bit curious that it isn’t used more often. It goes like this: when I’m thinking over a topic, wondering what to do, a simple first step is to ask, “What would the believers of the new testament think about this? Was this something they spent time thinking about? Was this a question they were asking?”
Now I’m not talking about using the new testament like an updated old testament (lawbook 2.0). So I don’t mean we should look at what they did, and try to essentially do the same. I have this theory that things really haven’t changed much when it comes to the challenges we face – whether hundreds or even thousands of years ago or what we face today. I just haven’t found that many really important parts of life that aren’t addressed in some manner in the life and times of Jesus and his first followers. But I also don’t think that Jesus intended us to read the letters & documents of the new testament and somehow woodenly “just do” what they did, the way they did it, today, without hearing from him on the matter. It was a testament of how they worked out this life with him in their day, and we need to do the same. This whole thing of the Holy Counselor living inside us, disclosing to us the things to come, guiding us into all truth, is my salvation for this life. I’d have nothing going for me without it.
I find great value in trying to get into the heads and hearts of Jesus and those men and women with him, and ask myself “What were they thinking? What was really motivating them to do and say those things? What was important to them, and what wasn’t important? Why? Why Not?” At the end of the day, we live by the Spirit – by hearing from the Lord on a matter, and moving out in faith to obey his prompting. By looking through the new testament letters this way, it’s like the early followers become our older brothers and sisters in the faith, putting their arms around us and telling us “Here’s how he led us; how we lived and why, so now you can make this your inheritance and go to him for his leading in your life.”
It becomes a critical point of reference for me, and I’ll use it often. Have you ever had one of those times when you just couldn’t seem to find the answer from God on something? When I get there I find it’s a good idea to consider that I may be asking the wrong question. It’s meaningful when the new testament is “silent” on a topic. If life’s challenges were really much the same for them as it is for us, and it’s hard to imagine them wrestling with something we’re wrestling with, it’s instructional to ask “why is that?”. Conversly, if I don’t find myself working over the same kinds of things that they did, it can be a good thing to ask “why not? God, what am I/are we missing here?” Much of what we spend time on in church businesses (what we call “churches” today) was not a concern in new testament times, and this “silence” speaks volumes. This will be a popular area of discussion for me here because “something like scales” are falling from the Church’s collective eyes, and it’s important that we see what God is revealing to us.
Thanks for reading. If you’re truly interested in these things, I welcome your thoughts in response.