Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:23-27
It’s 4am in New York City, and I have to get a cab to the airport. I have an early flight and in order to make it, I am strolling the streets way before dawn. It doesn’t take too long to find one and I jump in and tell the driver “La Guardia.” He speeds off, and we are on our way. A few blocks later, he turns his head slightly and says to me, “Do you know how to get to the airport?” Surely I am mistaken. Did my driver just ask me how to get to our destination? I take in my surroundings. I am in a licensed cab in New York City – a city famous for its taxis. The driver’s license was on display letting me know that he was supposed to have the skills of a taxi driver, which to me included knowing how to get to the airport. I asked him to repeat himself and again he asked me how to get to La Guardia. For a moment I thought about getting out of the cab, but it was so early I didn’t think I would have much luck in getting another.
A thought strikes me: use Siri on my phone. She asks if I need LaGuardia or JFK. My conversation with Siri gives me what the driver can’t – hope that I will get to the airport on time. So, here we are. Me, a born and raised Texan on my fifth trip to New York being a backseat driver to a NY taxi driver. I call out turns and merges and true to her word, Siri gets me to the airport. I can count on one hand the number of times I haven’t tipped someone and this was one of those times.
Do we do the same thing in our churches? Do we assume that the men in our pulpits are speaking the Word of God? I mean, they do quote Scripture (or so we assume), and they do sound like they know what they’re talking about. But how do we know for sure? Don’t ask Siri. While she may be great at giving directions or restaurant recommendations, she is not the best source for reconciling God’s Word to what we hear from the pulpit, or from other teachers and those we see as senior in the faith.
Understand, I am not suggesting that these people are giving false testimony of God’s Word, but how do we know for sure. There are only two ways. One is to know and study the Word for ourselves. Read the Word. Take it with you to church and read along as Scripture is quoted. The second way is to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Again, Siri can provide information that we can rely on in some areas, but God’s Holy Spirit gives guidance in every area of life. When verifying any teaching or sharing of God’s Word, we can rest assured that it is from God if it is in accordance with His written Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is not a challenge to see if your pastor is false. This is an encouragement to be a reader and doer of the Word. This is a prompting to allow the Holy Spirit to live vibrantly in your life. That can only happen if you engage Him on a regular basis. Let the Holy Spirit lead you, and you will never be without the correct guidance.