This summer I heard a woman strongly caution against receiving truth from flawed sources. As in other people. “Anyone we allow to speak truth to us,” she said, “becomes our god.”
With all due respect, this cannot be so. Everything good speaks truth to us, albeit imperfectly—even the sky. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth wisdom. (If the glory of God isn’t truth, what is?)
Her point was that we can unthinkingly internalize what others tell us about ourselves, particularly when they offer us condemnation, because—well, it must be true. At least part of it is true, so without going to God to see what he has to say, we just swallow it. And choke. She had a very good point, but the reaction is a ditch all its own: when I allow only God himself to teach me truth in the security of my closet.
It only sets me up as the god or idol, speaking truth to myself. “But it’s not me, it’s the Holy Spirit,” I may object. Yes; and is it not the Holy Spirit telling that other person what to say to me too? If they might be slanting things, might not I as well? Or am I more equipped than they to hear him with clarity?
When I close my ears and eyes to all voices but the silent voice of God in my own heart, I close off at least ninety percent of his messages. The trees are saying “He made us! He’s good!” My daughter is singing, “Pwaise ye da Lord.” My husband is saying “Honey, I think you could grow in this area.” My friend is saying, “Are you sure you’re right on that?” My Sunday school teacher is saying, “God is good all the time! All the time God is good!” My neighbor is saying, “You people look like you have it together all the time. Do you struggle?”
God speaks in countless ways,
often using outside instruments to capture my attention.
If I really want to hear from God, I must open myself to hear him anywhere. From anyone.
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. (I Thess. 5:19-21)
I am Anabaptist, so of course I’m going to say this—but I believe it with all my heart. One of my best paths to sanctification is through my brothers and sisters. I can’t say yes to God and no to his family. I must learn to hear him with them, and from them.
God’s place of energy, purpose, and passion on earth is his church.
In Ephesians, Paul says, “Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Submitting to one another? When I’m filled with the Spirit?
Yes! Particularly then!
Let’s not create this enormous divide between God’s voice in community and God’s voice in our hearts. They ought to match; they ought to work in tandem; here a little and there a little.
God’s voice is always true.
True blue, as we say. True to his name, true to himself, true through and through. God’s voice lines up with God’s voice; it cannot be otherwise. Therefore there should be no fear in opening his revelation to the input of my brothers.
If I am uncertain of his speaking, what better place than here to bring it for clarity? If I am certain of his speaking, what better place than here to bring it to fruition?
Think about a hydrangea blossom. Alone, I am a single bloom. My relationship with God is intimate, delicate, a simple picture of beauty.
But together! All the blooms connected, growing together into a full-orbed majesty! (though slightly wilted in this photograph) Here the vibrancy of a single bloom is accented and cherished–as well as lost, immersed, saturated in the whole.
There is a place for me here, joy and space and vitality. There is a gap when I pull away.
I must bring my perceptions to the body
if both I and we are to be fruitful and growing.
How will Jesus speak to the church if individuals are not open, listening for him? How will he speak to individuals if we cut ourselves off from his place of focus and passion on earth?
Hear him when he speaks. Crave it. Seek it. Love it. Listen for it when you wake up and when you go to bed; when you are alone and when you sit with the congregation.
He will use me to speak to us. He will use us to speak to me.
As always, I welcome your thoughts. Have you found this true in your life?