On who can we

“I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling, and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of Spirit and power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.”

Paul’s first letter to the church of Corinth provides insight into the life of an early Christian community. Through it we see both the strengths and the weaknesses of Christians in the ancient world. These men and women had accepted the good news of Christ and were now trying to make their baptismal commitment real in their lives. Paul, who had founded the community and continued to look after it as a father, responds both to questions addressed to him and to the situations that existed in this community.

Paul tells the people that he is nothing special or extraordinary. He came as a man in weakness, fear, and trembling. He wants to impress on them two things that they can make applicable in their lives. First, that he had no special gifts other than those he received through the power of the Holy Spirit – that the Holy Spirit is the source of life and direction in the Christian community. Second, that Christians must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit in living out their baptismal commitment.

We are faced with all sorts of competing voices who wish to give us direction in our lives. We must use great care in discerning the voice of the Holy Spirit and commit to following that voice rather than all the others.

The voices of our personal desires (the heart can lead us into sin as easily as it leads us to God), the voices of government, and the voices of whatever is popular at the moment must not influence us. In fact, we must be careful to ignore those voices in favor of sole reliance on the Holy Spirit.

God is not distant and apart from us. God does speak to people through the work of Jesus and the voice of the Holy Spirit. He is fully involved in our lives. God is close to us and is constantly ready to guide and help us in all things. We must grow in our ability to discern His voice, to recognize it more and more.

To hear Him we must grow closer to Him, to know what He is really like. Discernment of His voice comes from knowing God as our Father and friend. The word “discern” itself means to exercise judgment. With discernment, we are always faced with a simple choice: is it God acting or not?

By living in the family of faith, worshiping, praying regularly, and reading scripture we will grow in discernment, hear God’s voice, learn to rely on Him, and better live our baptismal commitment.