Good afternoon! This week I read Foster's chapter on the spiritual discipline of Guidance, which he chooses to include in the 'corporate disciplines' category because God does guide the individual richly and profoundly, but he also guides groups of people and can instruct the individual through the group experience. (p. 176)
I don't have much experience with this, but Foster's sites how God led and guided the people of Israel and then the way he led the early church as they gathered to fast and pray. Good insight, Mr. Foster! He points out how the church today could gather in similar ways to "discern the mind of the Lord" in decisions for the whole body or in helping individuals make decisions.
The phrase that jumped out at me from his discussion of the early church based on Acts 15:28 was:
They dared to live on the basis of Spirit rule;
no fifty-one percent vote, no compromises, bu Spirit-directed unity.
Wouldn't that be wild? To have the patience, courage and faith to bring a decision you're trying to make (to go into missions, to get married to a specific person, etc.) to the Lord with the body, and await the Spirit's direction in prayer and fasting. This certainly flies in the face of our cultural tendency toward indiviualism!
Foster goes on to give examples from church history between us and the apostles as well as offering warnings against the abuse of this discipline, e.g. not letting leaders lead or manipulating people into doing things. He also says this:
Spiritual direction is first born out of natural, spontaneous human relationships. a hierarchical, or even organizational system, is not essential to its function and is often destructive to it. The ordinary kinds of caring and sharing that belong to the Christian community are the starting point for spiritual direction. Out of them will flow "kingdom authority" through mutual subordination and servanthood. (p.186)
I don't have much more to say today! This week feels full and I feel scatter-brained, so I need to call it quits there. BUT, if you want to get more from this chapter, and the rest of Richard Foster's book Celebration of Discipline, I'd love to send you a copy! I'll have a little end-of-series give-away on Monday, March 31. Drop me a comment before Sunday night to let me know you'd like me to put your name in the hat, and I will! Thanks for joining in on this series.