Does God speak? If He does, are we listening?
My answer to those question is that God is speaking. He speaks to His people primarily through Scripture, which is our rule of faith and life–the lens through which we evaluate the content of other messages or impressions that we believe come from God.
God also speaks through patterns in our lives, through people, through the book of nature. Together these things fall into the category of general revelation.
The problem is not that God isn’t speaking. The problem is that we’re not listening.
While I was reading a paper from a doctoral colloquium on church and mission (I know, geek alert), I came across a little phrase that captured my imagination: the recovery of our contemplative faculty. The phrase comes from Catholic theologian Ronald Rolheiser’s book, The Shattered Lantern: Rediscovering a Felt Presence of God.
Rolheiser’s central assertion is that, “our senses require healing and rehabilitation so that they are adequate for receiving and responding to visitations and appearances of [God]” (p.23). Contemporary society connives to kill our awareness of God: “God dies in our awareness and eventually in our churches as well” (p.107).
Coming from a significantly different theological perspective, Rolheiser echoes an observation made many years earlier by Stephen Charnock (1628-1680). Charnock decried the absence of God in the lives of many professed Christians: “…there is something of a secret atheism in all, which is the fountain of the evil practices in their lives, not an utter disavowing of the being of a God, but a denial or doubting of some of the rights of his nature” (24).
These two radically different Christian writers both touch on our deafness to God:
- Rolheiser believes that we have simply crowded out the voice of God, become deaf to his voice because of our narcissism, pragmatism, and restlessness.
- Charnock believes that we purposefully close our ears to the words of God due to our internal desire to be an authority unto ourselves.
Surely both men are right. Surely there is within each of us a unique blend of the desire to be an authority unto ourselves and the a canny inability to allow ourselves to be distracted from the counsel of God.
What causes you to close your ears to God?