|image credit: Mike Bannon|
For example, a man comes to Jesus asking how to inherit eternal life (Luke 10:25).
Jesus brings up the Law of Moses and asks him, "What does it say? How do you read it?" (Luke 10:26 NLT).
First of all, the difference between what it says and how the man reads it is a matter of discernment. But there's more than that. The man answers, "'You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind' [quoting Deuteronomy 6:5]. And, 'Love your neighbor as yourself' [quoting Leviticus 19:18]."
"'Right!' Jesus told him. 'Do this and you will live!'" (Luke 10:28 NLT). You've discerned well, now go do that!
Simple enough, right?
Love God and love your neighbor.
On the surface there's nothing more to discern.
But then the man asks a follow-up question that reminds us that things are never so simple:
"Who is my neighbor?" (Luke 10:29 NLT).
Jesus answers with the parable of the Good Samaritan, but the history of the church with its splits, inquisitions, and reformations could be seen as people trying to discern the contemporary answer that very question.