Kevin Johnson, our Community Pastor, introduced this week’s message with a statement: “I want to hear from God.” Every culture seems to have felt this desire. It’s a human urge to be connected with our Source, with God, with our Creator. We want to make contact with the divine somehow, and different cultures have developed many diverse ways of expressing this. Does God speak to us today?
Kevin Johnson, our community pastor, introduced this week’s message with a statement: “I want to hear from God.” Every culture seems to have felt this desire. It’s a human urge to be connected with our Source, with God, with our Creator. We want to make contact with the divine somehow, and different cultures have developed many diverse ways of expressing this.
But back to Kevin’s statement and the question embedded in it: Can we hear? Does God speak to us today? Is this possible on a regular basis? Conversational interaction with the Creator of the Universe—the way it seems to be in Scripture? How do we do that? With this set of question, Kevin introduced his two part series entitled: “Kingdom Ears: Hearing God for a Change.”
There seem to be certain times we really want to hear from God, but at other times we are not so concerned about this – we sort of move on with our lives on our own. Kevin listed these three categories of events that cause us to seek God more fervently than usual:
- Crisis – We want God for our “crisis intervention team.”
- Crossroads – We’d like to be sure God approves of our major life decisions. Kevin gave the example of his family moving from northern Coon Rapids to the city.
- Things aren’t fair and I want justice – The psalms are full of language like this. And we all feel wronged and hope that God’s awareness of our plight matters. We may even be so bold as to call on God’s wrath or justice against others who have hurt us. (Recall the Jim Carrey clip.) As Kevin said, “we love to run our own life, mess it up big time, and blame God.”
So we know we want to hear from God, especially when we feel we really need God, but what can we really anticipate about God speaking to us in general? There are some good reasons for approaching this with some caution. People claiming to be “hearing from God” sometimes abuse the power in this idea. Churches might shame folks into submission or giving money, TV evangelists have earned a bad reputation because of the cases of abuse in that arena, and even whole nations and societies have used the idea of “manifest destiny” to say to those they are conquering and killing that it is “God’s will” that they conform to the new world order that they themselves are bringing.
Some have resisted this idea of hearing from God that they’ll say things like, “When we are speaking to God, we are praying; when God is speaking to us, its called schizophrenia.” Powerful emotional events in our lives can quickly get tangled up in our spirituality. Kevin’s remark about romance and spiritual sensitivity especially for young folks dealing with overwhelming hormones illustrates this. Recall the anecdote about Dallas Willard’s grandmother. Sitting around the table discussing the message they’d heard, she commented that God never speaks to her the way that God apparently speaks to the pastor about the future of the church. Why not?
In the beginning God speaks to Adam and Eve. After the fall, God still speaks with them. God even speaks to Cain after killing Able. He also speaks to Noah, Abraham, Joshua, Samuel, Deborah, etc. Is this kind of interaction with God normative or exceptional? The answer to this question is rooted in the nature of God. God creates human beings and then interacts with them. It is we who harden our hearts and close our spiritual ears to God.
1 Sam. 8:4ff is where we hear about God’s people asking for a king. God takes this as a sign that the people do not accept the leading of God but want a human leader whom they can more easily relate to and follow, one who can lead them into battle and sympathize with their human plights. God gave them a king, even though God’s heart was to lead them more directly. But we don’t listen. We are not lead, and God is grieved. God wanted to be their king. God gave us over to our human kings, but God also came to us as our eternal King in Christ. Jesus’ desire is to get our attention – to call out to us and hope that we will hear and listen to his voice! This is the correct way to read Rev. 3:20. This passage is addressed to us! It is the character of God to pursue us. But will be we found? Will we listen?
Despite how we may feel sometimes, God does not give us the silent treatment. Willard puts it like this: “To abandon the faith that God wants to speak with me is to abandon my personal relationship with God” We can’t go it alone…God speaks, and we can experience that…but how? How can we position ourselves to hear that? It has to do with our primary posture before God. As in all things Christian, Christ is our model. Though Christ was a bit of a renegade in terms of what was acceptable in his contemporary society, his posture toward God was anything but rebellious.
Consider John 5:19. Christ can do nothing by himself; he imitates God. Now jump ahead to John 6:38 where Christ does the will of God. In John 8:28-29 Christ does nothing on his own but does only what God has taught him. What mattered to God mattered to Jesus. He lived in absolute submission…his heart beat with God’s. When we submit to God we posture ourselves with God. As we also submit our lives to Christ, we too will be in the correct posture to hear from God.
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