Thursday, December 4, 2014
As we hang out, we hear
It’s that time to think about writing Christmas cards – one way we maintain relationships with people we don’t see often.
I’M ABOUT to share three guideline principles for hearing God and receiving guidance from Him. These were first proposed by a Christian philosophy professor called Dallas Willard in his book Hearing God (IVP, 1999). He has thought about this a lot, explained it brilliantly and set it out in the way that academics do. I’m going to make this simple truth for ordinary guys like you and me.
If we don’t quite get it, we’ll never do it, but if we do get it, we’ll all be out there making it work, so a bit of simplification is OK – so I think, anyway.
The three headings are:
- As we hang out with God, He hangs out with us – and speaks to us
- That how it was for people in the Bible – no difference between them and us.
- When we hear from God, it’s nothing to parade – it doesn’t prove anything about us.
When God speaks to us, it is part of His being with us, and our sense of being with Him. It is a relationship that Jesus made possible, and which we take hold of and maintain.
You may be thinking about your Christmas card list about now. We generally send cards to the people we don’t see all the time. You might pen a few words, a bit of news or a question, and you look forward to getting a few words on their card to you. That’s our way of maintaining the relationship, and there’s some communication which comes naturally out of that. Social media is more instant but the way it works is about the same. If you don’t post anything for a month or two, not a lot comes back, and it gets less and less.
So the first guideline is that God speaks out of relationship of love, His presence with us. This is important to you, so you don’t let it go. You maintain it. You keep it active. You ‘post’ to Him.
It is never the kind of relationship that puts limits on us and controls us. That’s how you tell the difference between the real thing (real Person!) and a cult. Cults restrict and control and stifle. The Way of Jesus is always a choice, and it is always life-giving and freeing.
What God wants for you is a mutual relationship of love and desire to “be with” Him. Our primary goal, then, is not so much as hearing the voice of God and getting that sought-after guidance, but being mature people who want to know Him better. This is the only way we’ll hear rightly, because His guidance is highly personal.
The kind of guidance we need will come from a Father who knows us personally, and in a way that fits our individual lives and circumstances.