Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Hearing the words of the kingdom
The centurion that approached Jesus was clearly rather more human and feeling than this one…
But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me.
IF you were captured, blindfolded and deposited on a railway station platform, you would probably realise where you were – by the words spoken. If, having been rescued, you regained consciousness in a military hospital next to a parade ground – you would know where you are. Words define the ruling order of those places. God’s words define the rule and order of His kingdom.
We hear those words, or at least, we try to. We may also use those words as He directs, to assert His kingdom rule in a situation – a robust way of praying. This is the principle the Roman centurion naturally grasped (Luke 7:1-10). “Just say the word…” the officer repeated. He recognised the life-changing power of words spoken with authority – he had authority, and so it was easy for him to see the greater authority that Jesus carried.
Hearing God for us is about hearing God’s words – words which are powerful and creative. Right at the beginning God said: “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3) and He has given us, His children, a restricted measure of that creative power.
Even human words have power. Ecclesiastes recognised this (Eccles 8:4). A king’s authority was expressed through words, but without that authority, his words carried the weight that anyone else’s did.
Turn that around, and that means that your ordinary words as an ordinary person carry an ordinary person’s weight. However, if you hear God speak to you – He shows you a particular principle in His word, or prompts you to a particular action in His name – that then carries His kind of clout into the situation.
There’s another story in the New Testament which is particularly memorable because we can’t read it without wondering what it would have been like for us to have been involved. First, Jesus sends out the 12 disciples (Luke 9:1-10) to proclaim the kingdom (using words, obviously) and bring various dimensions of freedom and new life to those who were receptive. A bit challenging, but this was the disciples who had been with Jesus a lot and had seen Him do this a lot. Then He calls different people for a second mission (Luke 10:1-10). This involves six times as many, and by definition these are mostly not the best-trained, but relatively ordinary people. He sends them out and they, too, find men and women of peace and use words powerfully. Later they return and share their stories.
Jesus rejoices because these are ordinary people who are speaking for God – bringing God’s word – with authority. They are not ‘praying’ and thinking they will be heard because of their many words, but hearing God’s heart for the people they meet and declaring that over them.
The kingdom of God is not a kingdom of words but it does work by speaking words which relate to situations, both of how we feel and also what God says about it. So this is all about relationship — we relate largely by using words.
This is how we believe and trust that God can have a personal, guiding relationship with us.
RUN WITH IT
• Are you ready to say, and not just to pray?
• How will you prepare to say what carries God’s authority for a situation – to get it right?