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Wide Open Spaces: Beyond Paint-by-Number Christianity by Jim Palmer



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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Jim Palmer

Monday, November 15

The Holy Writings say, "No eye has ever seen or no ear has ever heard or no mind has ever thought of the wonderful things God has made ready for those who love Him." God has shown these things to us through His Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit Who looks into all things, even the secrets of God, and shows them to us.
—1 Corinthians 2:9-10


A friend recently invited me to go hear a popular Christian speaker who is currently visiting various cities on a book tour. I dropped twenty bucks for the ticket, but after doing so, I got this queasy feeling inside. Does religion have rock stars? What I mean by "rock stars" are people we place in some category higher than ourselves, or especially esteem because of their charisma, giftedness, or prominence.

There does seem to be this sense in Christian culture that if someone is standing on a stage, has their name on the front of a book, holds a degree, occupies a top position, or has achieved recognition, then this person must be especially close to God and better equipped to understand spiritual things.

Certainly it’s true that God expresses truth through the personalities, giftedness, knowledge and experience of others, which contributes to our own spiritual journey. No problem there. However, sometimes we can lose sight of the fact that as image bearers of God we possess knowledge of the truth deep within our souls, however buried it might be. Jesus further taught that our primary spiritual guide and teacher is his Spirit inside us.

Whenever truth is presented and we are open to receive it, that truth pings our soul and the eyes of our heart are opened. The main transaction that occurs is a deep spiritual confirmation whereby God's Spirit within confirms truth with our own spirit, and we become consciously aware of our response. If I say, “God is Love,” and you suddenly feel something inside confirming this, it’s the Spirit awakening you to truth. Technically speaking, it wasn’t really me who showed you. It is the truth whether I or someone else said it, but it was the Spirit within who helped you get it.

The Spirit lives within each of us, and every encounter in our lives is a potential opportunity to grow in the truth. I, for one, have a Masters of Divinity degree and my name appears on books. My “credentials” could perpetuate the illusion that I have or know something others don't when it comes to God. There is a chance I could be coming to a city near you on book tour. If I do, it will give me the opportunity to communicate the following:

Any truth I know has been revealed to me by the Spirit; I cannot claim any special quality for myself as a reason for having discovered it. Like you, if I am open to it, the Spirit will use anything and everything to awaken me to truth. Left to myself, I am capable of missing, distorting, convoluting and dumbing-down the truth. Despite my credentials, only the Spirit can lead me deeper into life in God.

We all are teachers and students. We intersect one another’s lives to encourage one another in the truth. That encouragement flows through the uniqueness of each of our personalities, giftedness, and life experiences. But at the end of the day, only the Spirit can open our eyes. There are no rock stars. We are all in this together.

Today God, I am ready to be both a student and teacher however your Spirit leads.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.