An Outreach of Stillwater Monthly Meeting of Ohio Yearly Meeting of Friends
An FGC Friend Describes How She Encounters the Living Christ
The Friends General Conference (FGC)
is a North American Friends umbrella organization uniting member
Yearly and Monthly meetings who share in the Hicksite Friends
tradition. The FGC meetings are very diverse, but are generally
unprogrammed and situated in eastern North America. Probably all
meetings would describe themselves as "liberal,", but there are
Christian Friends in most, and some meetings would describe
themselves as strongly Christian. Others would choose different
terms. This note was taken from an online message board, with
permission, as a testimony to the Christian witness many FGC Friends
are led to offer.
Q: How do you experience the living Christ in your life from day to day?
A: I have had two unmistakable
first-hand encounters with Jesus Christ, in person, one-on-one, in
which Jesus Christ unmistakably appeared visibly to me and spoke to me
audibly and gave me a clear specific message or directive. I also had a
third experience in which I got an explicit verbal directive/message
which I am confident to have been from Jesus Christ but I did not see
or hear him with my senses. It's almost like this third message showed
up in my spiritual "inbox" without my having noticed the "you have
mail" popup, if y'all will forgive a computer metaphor for an
experience without direct outward correlate.
These experiences are precious to me, and they account for my having
come to call myself a Christian. In fact, in conversations with
Christians who speak in terms of well-defined datable conversion
events, I'm comfortable calling the first of these my own "conversion
experience" -- although I generally try to tell the actual story of the
vision/audition and my response, just so they don't assume that my
experience is identical to their own, or to whatever specific
experience their Christian community counts as authentic.
On a day-to-day basis, I do NOT experience such minute-by-minute
unmistakable Jesus Christ front and center verbal and visual guidance
-- so far at least. I get nudges and have to discern whether they seem
to be godly or not, temptations, distractions, or what. The Bible as
well as my own experience tells me that Satan/the Tempter does deceive
and tempt. I rely on prayer, the Bible, fellow Christians including my
husband, and sometimes just the passage of time for help in discerning
what to do or say. On occasion I ask for a clearness committee, but
only when the matter in some way involves the Meeting, e.g. marriage
under the Meeting's care, or travel under a Meeting minute.
I certainly believe in the possibility of humans receiving far more
minute-by-minute explicit guidance than I myself get, but I also know
that that's not how the Lord has been working with me, at least so far.
It's my impression that, for whatever reason, many or perhaps most
Friends, including those who believe in God's continuing guidance and
revelation, have NOT so far had as vivid and unmistakable experiences
as my few. I connect this situation to John 20:29, when Jesus says to
Thomas (and me), "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed
are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."
I remember once after a long Meeting for Business discussion of a
controversial matter, one wise Friend rising and saying, "Friends,
sometimes we have to admit to ourselves that we do not KNOW God's will
for this group at this time, and just do the best we can." That is my
situation most of the time, and it seems to be the situation of the
Friends Meetings I know best (liberal FGC meetings).
I'm pretty confident about the broad contours of what living according
to God's will looks like, summed up in loving God with all my being and
loving other people as myself (especially the other people who bug me
or threaten me). However when it comes down to specific issues and
controversies, about all I feel led to do is pray for guidance in the
moment as to what to do and say. There are some issues where I feel
fairly confident stating a position (e.g. I believe abortion is a
gravely wrong action, and sometimes feel led to witness to individual
women about it; however I have never felt led to get involved in
political activities to make abortion legal or illegal or safe or
difficult or easy). There are other issues, e.g. homosexuality, where
all I've so far felt led to, is working to be a loving friend to the
gay and lesbian people I meet and be a one-on-one conversation partner
with anyone who wants to talk to me; my main one-on-one message being
that I believe God leads people, and the foremost moral imperative for
a person who wants to be faithful to God about sexuality or anything
else is for the person to be willing to do or not do whatever God
commands or wants of us -- in other words, yieldedness.
I'd better stop now. I use the
phrase "feeling led" for my best judgment in the moment as to what the
nudges and inclinations I'm experiencing add up to -- what seems to be
the most likely most God-led thing to do or not do.
Thank you all again for your many posts -- I experience you as a very precious community of Friends --
Grace and peace of the Lord to you all,
An FGC Friend