Aloha Friday Message – September 28, 2018 – Discernment and Discrimination

1839AFC091418 – Discernment and Discrimination

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   Mark 9:38-40 38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 Whoever is not against us is for us.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Well, I think we’re “Back in the Saddle Again.” Although it will be only three weeks this coming Monday (10/1), progress is being made. I haven’t been able to get busy on my keyboard during most of that time, blinksut that is starting to change. Thank you – all of you – again for the prayerful support. My caregivers – Timothy and Crucita – thank you as well. Now, let’s get into this lesson which I’ve been percolating for a couple of weeks.

In this passage from the Gospel of Mark, the Disciples are appalled that others who are not “us” are doing something that belongs to “us.” They are not us. They shouldn’t be doing what we do. It is wrong for them to be like us because they are the “other.” This perception is one of the main stanchions on which “Civilization” is built. We are us. You are them. You are not us and we are not you. The “Us-Them Dichotomy” has been written about in thousands of texts and articles. How in the World did we ever come up with something so polarizing?

It’s in every form of story, history, Scripture, religion, nationalism, and even in our speculations about whether or not other sentient life exists “somewhere out there.” This tendency to form identity through exclusion is so natural that we never really think about it much. We do not often realize how disruptive this divisiveness is. Perhaps there are some earthlings who – by some fault of nature – have ideas that are radically dehumanizing, or pathological expressions of mental disorders, perhaps it is “merely ignorance” or pig-headed defiance, or even warped perceptions of interpersonal identifications brought about by inhumane abuse – whatever may be the genesis of negativity for some of us, most of us do not fixate every waking moment on the tension of dissention and the seduction of destruction. We cannot help but notice, however, that there are indeed some persons who do live like that, persons who actually do fixate every waking moment on the idea of destroying THEM. One might hope that deep in the soul of such a one there would be a glimmer of goodness and rightness – the “Anakin Skywalker” waiting to be released. As we are reminded daily through the major syndicated media, that is a very shallow hope. The individuals and groups that are consumed with malevolent wrath about their stations in life stridently proclaim that their angst is the fault of others who discriminate against them.

This word, DISCRIMINATE, is ill-used these days. It is not properly understood and the connotative meaning has obscured the genuine denotative meaning. Sometimes it is even confused with the word DISCERN. Let’s find out how these words are so easily confused in this era of violent divisiveness.  Both words start with the prefix dis which is a Latin prefix indicating apart, separated, asunder, separate, negative, opposite. DISCERN has as its root a Latin root cenere – to separate, distinguish, perceive, recognize, notice, observe. DISCRIMINATE seems to be virtually identical. It is derived from discrimen – distinction which yields discriminat- which means distinguish between by noting difference, interval, distinction, separation. We use DISCERN when speaking of an individual, personal perception of an unobvious yet ubiquitous underlying truth. We use DISCRIMINATE when speaking of using perceptions of obvious distinctions as the bases for judgments which may or may not be valid or true. Discriminating, as originally used, involves acute and precise observations of differences, of distinction, of separation and division, and of characteristics. Today it has a meaning very meaning that is more closely related to judgment. Judgment involves a perceived difference in power, and that one person has the right to use that power against another. Discernment is more internal in its aspects and is used to make choices based on reasoning, intuition, or verifiable perceptions. It is devoid of partiality. We might easily conclude that discernment is always good and discrimination is always bad. Let’s look at some Scripture for guidance on that analysis.

God made a distinction between the Nation of Israel and all other nations when he chose them as “his people,” brought them out of Egypt, and established them in Canaan through the intentional annihilation of other nations in that region.  God gave earthlings his spirit and created them in his likeness and image. Animals, on the other hand, are created by him but not created like him.  “You Only Live Once,” and it’s forever. Not all souls will spend “forever” in the presence of God.  There are entry requirements for Heaven! (and for Hell as well!) God’s laws command that we discriminate between all that is holy and all that is wicked.  Jesus taught that we will be judged by the same standards we use to judge others, and that we must amend our own lives before pointing out deficiencies in the lives of others. Is any of this discernment on God’s part, or discrimination? What do you think? “Well, I think you’re off your rocker old man! Discrimination isn’t in the Bible, and in fact it’s unbiblical! What do you think of that!?”

I think that’s close to being true, at least in the negative, judgmental sense attached to “discrimination” in our culture (even around the world). But let me just put a list of passages where “discern” is used: Genesis 31:32, Genesis 38:25, 2 Samuel 14:17, 2 Samuel 19:35, 1 Kings 3:9, 1 Kings 3:11, Ezra 3:13, Job 4:16, Job 6:30, Ezekiel 44:23, Jonah 4:11, Malachi 3:18, Matthew 16:3, Luke 12:56, Hebrews 5:14. I didn’t put links on them because I want you to trust that I have that right. If I was being judgmental, I’d say that you probably wouldn’t click on all of those links anyway. (But go ahead and try at least 2-3 if you wish!) So here’s my question: Based on what you’ve just seen above, am I wrong in stating

  • Abortion is murder, and those who promote or perform abortion are accomplices to murder and therefore evil?
  • There is but one God and his name is YHWH – El Shaddai-Olam?
  • There are “truths” to be found in Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, but only Real Truth is found only in Christianity?
  • There are two genders – period, and any claim otherwise is unfounded and totally subjective?
  • There is one race – the human race – which God made remarkably diverse and that any creed, culture, law, or action that denies that is evil?
  • Judging someone for actions instigated by, for, or through evil is discernment and not racist, biased, misogynistic, prejudicial, or unbiblical?
  • It is quite likely more souls are going to Hell than to Heaven this week?
  • ALL of the above are nondiscriminatory statements?

Consider these:
Discriminate against the World and its baubles
1 John 2:15-17 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; 16 for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.

Do not expect spiritual actions from those who are unspiritual.
1 Corinthians 2:14 14 Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

If someone claims to be Christian but their actions proclaim otherwise – stay away from them. If someone who claims not to be a Christian acts in the same way, have nothing to do with them, either.
1 Corinthians 5:9-11 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral persons – 10 not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since you would then need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother or sister who is sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber. Do not even eat with such a one.

Don’t get hung up on convoluted controversies. It does not depend on what the definition of “IS” is.
2 Timothy 2:23-26 23 Have nothing to do with stupid and senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, 25 correcting opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth, 26 and that they may escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

Confront heresy directly, fearlessly, and properly (without silly arguments) all the time.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. 1 Timothy 4:1-2 1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will renounce the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared with a hot iron.

If it is of human and not divine origin, it is most likely ungodly, unbiblical, evil, and idolatrous.
Wisdom 14:22-31 22 Then it was not enough for them to err about the knowledge of God, but though living in great strife due to ignorance, they call such great evils peace. 23 For whether they kill children in their initiations, or celebrate secret mysteries, or hold frenzied revels with strange customs, 24 they no longer keep either their lives or their marriages pure, but they either treacherously kill one another, or grieve one another by adultery, 25 and all is a raging riot of blood and murder, theft and deceit, corruption, faithlessness, tumult, perjury, 26 confusion over what is good, forgetfulness of favors, defiling of souls, sexual perversion, disorder in marriages, adultery, and debauchery. 27 For the worship of idols not to be named is the beginning and cause and end of every evil. 28 For their worshipers either rave in exultation, or prophesy lies, or live unrighteously, or readily commit perjury; 29 for because they trust in lifeless idols they swear wicked oaths and expect to suffer no harm. 30 But just penalties will overtake them on two counts: because they thought wrongly about God in devoting themselves to idols, and because in deceit they swore unrighteously through contempt for holiness. 31 For it is not the power of the things by which people swear, but the just penalty for those who sin, that always pursues the transgression of the unrighteous.

Belovéd, what are we to do? Where is this gift of discernment which is not judgmental and not discrimination in the most negative sense? How can we purge this evil from our midst? I know of only one way: Replace it. Love with discernment.

Must we love everybody? Of course we must. “But I don’t really like him/her/them at all!” We don’t have to like someone to Love them. Perhaps people we don’t like are actually easier to love. With people we like, there are always little things we wish maybe they would or wouldn’t do. But that’s not always true with people we don’t like. Everything they do sets us off, so there are no little tweaks we might hope for in our relationships with them. If we’re going to love them, we have to love them as-is, warts and all as the saying goes. Not all love is Love. Have you ever heard the hymn –

Let the Beauty of Jesus Be Seen in Me Lyrics Albert Orsborn Melody (↔ Music Link)

Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me (Jones)
Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me,
All His wonderful passion and purity.
O Thou Spirit divine all my nature refine
‘Til the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.*

When your burden is heavy and hard to bear
When your neighbors refuse all your load to share
When you’re feeling so blue, don’t know just what to do
Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in you.

When somebody has been so unkind to you,
Some word spoken that pierces you through and through.
Think how He was beguiled, spat upon and reviled,
Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in you

From the dawn of the morning ’til close of day,
In example in deeds and in all you say,
Lay your gifts at His feet, ever strive to keep sweet
Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in you.

*  This first verse is transcribed as originally written. Additional lyrics composed by other lyricists.

That is how we discern – with eyes, hearts, and mind of Love seen as the Beauty of Jesus!

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Aloha Friday Messages by
Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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