listening to god
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
I received a message from someone recently…
God wanted me to ask you what you are learning. Not what you are learning from books or from other people,and not what you are learning to share with others. But what are you learning from God? No reply needed..just being obedient to ask the question.
There is much I could say, but I will focus on the nature of how we learn from God. While I can understand what this person is trying to say—implicitly making a distinction between the knowledge & wisdom of man compared to that of God, implying that there is some fundamental difference between them—I think they are missing a deep point about the nature of both of the physical & spiritual. They are not so far split from each other that we face an either/or choice.
One of the main focuses of Jesus’ teachings was on the Kingdom of God. But what was (and still is) so important about that message is that it is here now, it isn’t something we have to wait for but that we can grasp it today. A substantial shift occurs in theology with Jesus; we now have an incarnational faith. While a select few were granted access to the presence of God in the times of the Temple, Jesus promises us all that access.
So where do we find that access, where is the kingdom among us today?
As James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Or as the author of Colossians writes in chapter one verses 16 & 17, “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
What I hear in these verses is that I don’t have to look beyond this earth. I don’t have to escape this physicality to find God, to hear his voice, because the imprint of Jesus is upon everything. It is about simply about seeing and listening (let those who have ears hear let & those who have eyes see), learning from God is simply about awakening to the world around you. There are divine messages in all of life, because it is the very fabric of the divine.
I think this would closely follow the thoughts of two 20th century Jewish thinkers Martin Buber & Emmanuel Levinas, who both argued for us finding the divine within the Other. Which reflecting on how we are made in the image of God, seeing that image in another person is a restorative act in-itself, a little work of the “thy kingdom come thy will be done…”
So what am I learning?
I’m learning grace from the stranger who helped me.
I’m learning love from the simple look of my wife.
I’m learning patience from raising two daughters.
I’m learning wisdom through how I handle relationships.
I’m learning about the nature of God through the wisdom of others.
I’m learning hope from the prophets of old & of today.
I’m learning faith from a body of believers who believe that their church is meaningful.
And I’m learning that my time of prayer & meditation on the scriptures is (possibly most importantly) about preparing my heart & mind to be able see and hear when all these other things are happening.