Thursday, August 26, 2010

Where did you learn to talk like that?

As we continue to 'walk through the Bible', a quick reminder that you can find today's daily lectionary passages here:
So as I was reading today's passage from John 7, I was struck by something.  In the passage the people hearing Jesus ask this question:
 How does this man have such learning, when he has never been taught?"
Jesus response is a direct one and one that I think is critical for us as we seek to follow Christ and live into the call of God on our lives.  Jesus responds: 
 "My teaching is not mine but his who sent me. 17Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own.18Those who speak on their own seek their own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothing false in him.
What I think we have to hear in this is that Jesus - even Jesus, you know 'Son of God' and all - didn't claim what he was saying and doing as his own.  
Jesus endeavored to fulfill the will of God and to teach only what God had given him to say and teach.  
As you can read, he goes on to say, essentially that if you are truly seeking to only do the will of God you will know if it is God's teaching or your own.  Jesus said it, so I'm with it, but I do think that it isn't quite as simple as that.  What I mean is that I don't think we can just all of a sudden stop, say a quick prayer - 'God I want to do your will' - and then know for sure that what we are teaching or saying or believing is from God.
But rather I think we begin to get the sense of if things are from God or simply our own thoughts and desires seeping through when we get in the habit of consistently asking for God's will and 'resolving' to only do what God has called us to.  
When we are consistently seeking to do God's will and only God's will, then I think in our hearts we can 'easily' know God's will and thoughts from our own.
I really think this is an important issue, and not just because we are to be seeking God's glory and not our own.  Okay, that is true and pretty clear.  
But I think the issue is more fundamental than that.  When we are not consistently asking God for His wisdom and when we are not resolute in our pursuit of God's will - even/especially when it is in contrast to our own I think it becomes all too easy for us to see things as we want them and not necessarily as they are.
We can deceive ourselves into thinking our predispositions are in line with God's will.  Sometimes they are (and isn't that great, when it happens!), but we are fallen creatures living in a fallen world and too often it isn't the case.  
Too often what we want or what we want to think or believe is not in line with God's will, God's mind or God's plan.  It is incredibly dangerous to blindly believe without asking God to purify our hearts, minds and vision.  It is even more dangerous for those of us that would be teachers and leaders to pass off our thoughts and our ideas as the Word or mind of God.
- Sadly, I think that happens a lot today.  In truth I think we see examples of it all through history: Jonah, Paul, David, the Gnostics,  and even religious fanatics (think the KKK, Islamic fundamentalists, or even someone like Rasputin) throughout history.  All allowed what they thought, wanted or hoped for (at one point or another) to substitute for the will, Word and mind of God.  Some, like Paul and David allowed God to sort them out eventually.  Others caused incredible suffering and hurt in the world.
It seems the only defense against this is a resolute turning to God.  Consistently seeking to know and then do the will of God in our lives and in the world.  So, let us all pray, read and listen for God to speak.  
See you tomorrow.


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