An hour before I was to teach a class on how to hear God’s voice last week, I realized most of what I had prepared (although I think it was great) was not going to be most beneficial. I sensed in that moment God wanted people to get a taste of what it is like to hear his voice. So, I scrapped most of my teaching and engaged in exercises of surrender, listening and practicing testing words in groups.
I love receiving (and giving) good teaching. I love to hear others unpack the scriptures, to reveal the heart and invitation of God to us. There is so much I have yet to learn. At the same time, I think we often rely on others to handle our spiritual formation.
Since this moment of surrendering what I planned, I have been thinking how our culture is so reliant on the information provided by others. If I have a question, I ask my phone or look it up in a book. I could even watch one of the 10,000 documentaries that can be seen on streaming services. There is so much readily available information within our culture.
This is true in the church as well. There are multiple books on any subject one could ever want to know. There are Christian podcasts, online sermons, and blogs (yes I see the irony) everywhere you look on the internet. These are not bad things, except they have taken a primary role for many people. There is a place for all of these theological pursuits, especially for people called to certain roles in our churches.
The issue we face is when spirituality becomes more of an academic pursuit than a way of life. Our God is all about revelation. He continues to reveal more and more to his people. But revelation comes with an invitation. We are to live differently, more like Jesus, as God reveals things to us.
There have been seasons of my life where God keeps bringing up the same thing. He does this because I haven’t understood or been obedient to his invitation yet. A new revelation wouldn’t be good for me. He knows what revelation is needed in the moment.
The place we need to start our spiritual formation is in a personal life steeped in scripture and prayer.
This blog entry is less about put down that book, and more about spend time with Jesus. In a university course, there is often supplemental reading that is not required. That is how we must see the other stuff out there. Prayer and scripture in a believers life are the daily necessities, the required reading list. Which list would you go to first in school? Prayer and scripture are where we go to for revelation, to encounter God in an intimate and personal way. It is where we understand the invitation of God daily.
God has a personal revelation and invitation for each one of us, not necessarily in the grandiose Abraham-like calling. But he is inviting us into deeper relationship and to join him in what he is doing. Although God gets our attention through others, we are missing out on so much if we are not taking time to listen to God in prayer and scripture ourselves. Remember, God wants to reveal things to you. He is not hiding it in the revelation of others.
As much as I am talking about personal call and revelation, this is not to be discerned apart from community. We are to be sharing these revelations with one another, encouraging each other, praying for one another, and testing revelation collectively. This is a part of the process of hearing from God. As brothers and sisters in Christ we are supporting each other and looking out for the other’s best interest.
I understand there are seasons of life where the need for the teaching of others is more important. When you are new in your faith there is a lot to learn. In the early years of faith there is so much to navigate through, so many lies to work through, the impact of culture to renounce and brand new practices to learn. There is a reason why the church in the New Testament is instructed not to raise people into leadership too soon. Passion doesn’t cover over the need for spiritual maturity.
I love my literary mentors. Theologians like Bonhoeffer, Barth and Packer have caused me to examine my beliefs and practices in countless ways. They have inspired me and taught me so much. As one that is called to teach and equip others, they have helped me understand more fully spiritual truths I only knew in part before.
Mentors both living and dead will continue to be a part of my discipleship, but there is so much to receive from God himself. He has given us an invitation to “Be Still and know that I am God”. There is an invitation to discover him afresh daily. I want to say yes to this invitation. How about you?