I grew up in a family that did not have great feedback loops. We were all about high-performance, but often you didn’t know how to perform well and you had to be careful in how you expressed yourself. As a result, I grew up passive aggressive.
It wasn’t until I got married that I began to learn the importance of giving and receiving feedback if you wanted to grow.
Leprosy is a disease that removes the feedback system of pain. Without it, humans eventually die. Thus in especially complex organisms like a family or a church, the feedback systems must be especially sophisticated. How else can a group of autonomous creatures coordinate its activities?
The more effective a church is in realizing its purpose, the more clearly defined the roles of its members and the interrelationships between them must be.
Jesus begins his public ministry by talking about people whose feedback systems need a tune-up, often because a lack of use (Luke 6:24-26). Rich people are soaking in comfort, not having felt deprivation for a while. People who are well fed aren’t experiencing the feedback of hunger pangs. People who only receive the compliments of others aren’t experiencing the blessings of corrective feedback.
God himself gives us feedback through the Holy Spirit. The spiritual gift of prophecy is not intended for individuals per se, but for the body of Christ. As we press into prayer, we fine tune our divine feedback mechanisms. Churches that are vital and growing tend to have more sensitive feedback mechanisms. Those that fail to impact the world around them don’t.
If your church doesn’t have spiritual feedback systems, then it may have the trappings of a spiritual body, yet not experience the reality of divine guidance. Similarly, we may call ourselves Christians, but without listening for God’s still, small voice, we may lack the feedback that causes us to make the course corrections we need.
Sometimes we feel becalmed in our spiritual lives, not having felt the wind of the Spirit in our sails for a while. Perhaps that describes you now.
God doesn’t intend for us to live that way – he repeatedly tells us to pray for one another. Perhaps we need to get around others who hear from him and ask them to pray for us. He has designed spiritual feedback systems to help us.
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I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.