The title of this post sounds strange.
When could hearing from God be bad?
When others around you don’t hear from God at all.
Dr. Willard tells of his grandmother who led a wonderful devout life, yet she said something profound after listening to a sermon by her pastor, a sermon punctuated by the common lines “God has spoken to me about the things that should be done.”
She commented at the dinner table, “I wonder why God never speaks to me like that.”
This raises the question about the value of sharing God messages with everybody.
This woman was a God-fearing, dedicated Christian, yet the pastor’s words caused her to doubt her devotion to her Lord and Savior.
Some of you reading this post have had messages from God [you believe].
Others of you have feelings that God has communicated to you in some form or fashion.
Maybe others just think this God-to-man communication thing is a bit bizarre. Maybe people who claim this are to use a slang expression “a couple bubbles off plumb.”
For the purposes of making a point today, let’s posit that God does speak to man.
We have referenced in earlier post several key places in the Bible where it has happened and if you believe your Bible, it would follow that you believe the accounts of God-to-man communication.
Let’s get back to the negatives of sharing your special communication with just anybody.
First of all, we should not assume that everyone believes in the special communication. Of course atheists do not. Probably agnostics do not. Both of these groups are becoming increasingly common in society today. Other faiths may not believe in this either, depending on how their theology directs their belief system. Maybe even some Christian denominations discourage this type of idea. Certainly the Sadducees in Jesus’ day did not want the Jewish people of the day to have direct communication with God. It was upsetting to their concept of power and they wanted the power.
What types of people seem to openly experience this God-to-man communication?
I realize that is a gross generalization that some of you may object to. Some of you may need a definition of what an evangelical is. Here is a “big” definition: “Evangelicalism is a worldwide, transdenominational movement within Protestant Christianity, maintaining that the essence of the gospel consists in the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ’s atonement.”
When you examine that definition, you realize that it cuts across many religious experiences in the Christian community.
In essence, can a Baptist be an evangelical hearing from God?
Can a Methodist be an evangelical hearing from God?
Can a Disciple of Christ be an evangelical hearing from God?
Yes…and on and on.
But not everyone hears from God, or so they say.
The people who do not “hear from God” may feel like they are weak of faith. Is that fair that your protestation that God has spoken to you causes that feeling in another fellow Christian? I don’t think so. We don’t want good people to question their devotion to the Lord because they are not getting communication from Him.
The people who do not “hear from God” may feel like they are not worthy to hear from God. This is very sad. I am not a person who enjoys watching other people put their fellow human beings “in their place” so I have a hard time imagining that God appreciates people who brag about hearing from Him and they use that to distinguish themselves from others. Lesser people are those who never get a message from God.
One of the most fascinating dynamics that I see humans engage in is “in-group and out-group” communication. I had an instance happen to me this week as I joined a group as a “rookie”. I expected it and I was patient as I observed it. I went to a group as a new member and listened to all the inside jokes and references that told me that I had no history with these people. That is so common but is it good? I don’t think so. To welcome new people to a group [let’s say an adult Sunday School class] the in-group talk needs to be minimized. Can you imagine a group of Christians talking about hearing from God around people who have decided to visit a church and they have been totally unchurched? Not good.
Lastly, the person who gets no God messages can be a bit distressed. Maybe it is a stretch but a person may have a negative reaction to the lack of communication. Rebellion from groups, friends and even the church may occur because they are so discouraged.
Let me return to my initial idea that hearing from God can be bad. I need to rephrase that title to hearing from God can be bad if you tell just anybody that it has happened.
Christian who are open to receiving messages from God need to be discerning about when they communicate that to others. In other words there needs to be acute sensitivity to others as this report is shared. Will it help another’s faith or will it hurt? Is it good for you to share or are you doing it for your own personal aggrandizement?
I loved my grandmothers.
I would not want to do anything to hurt them.