A word from God vs. The Word of God
I’ve found an interesting trend. I don’t know if it’s new or if my friend group has just expanded, but it does seem to be more pervasive in the Christian community. I feel like Christians are more interested in getting “a word from God” than reading the Word of God. They seem more interested in getting a feeling or impression from the Lord rather than the black and white letters of Scripture. So my question is, “Why?” Well I have 3 potential answers (and they all start with “W” because deep down I’m a Baptist.) I might say some things that bother you about your relationship with God. Don’t let it. I probably went to the extreme to show the fault in it, and you probably aren’t that extreme. But I do hope it challenges your thinking a bit and your language even more. But at the end of the day if you still massively disagree with me, you can just pretend I’m some ignorant blogger and it doesn’t matter what I say. So here are my 3 answers to why more Christians just want “a word from God.”
1) People Don’t Want to Work
Waiting for God to just give you an answer is a lot easier than reading His Word, speaking to Godly people in your life, and actually starting to do what you know to be right. Occasionally praying for God’s direction or for a “sign” (for you to determine later) is an easier way out. This in no way is to say to not wait for God’s leading, but let that not replace what should precede that – especially the study of followed by the obedience to God’s Holy Scriptures. Wanting God to “give you direction” out of sin is not going to happen. Stop sinning. Run away every time sin appears before you. The Bible tells you that. You don’t need to wait on any other revelation. Likewise, when we are stressing over a major life decision we can simplify it by simply being obedient to what Christ has called all Believers to do. Get ready to quote me. Jot this down on the notes section of your phone or just take a picture of it and Instagram it later.
God’s calling will never supersede God’s Word.
To expect a major direction change in your life based on a special word from the Lord is essentially saying you are living in rebellion and need to repent and live a completely new life. If you are not living in rebellion to God, than His Holy Spirit and His still small voice can guide you to a specific path, but the general direction is clearly laid out in God’s Word.
2) People Don’t Want to Wait
Christians do not like waiting on God’s timing. I don’t think that’s a specific Christian thing, but rather all human’s seem to hate waiting. We all just buy stuff on our credit cards that we want (or need) and then figure out how to pay for it later. In Scripture when God “does stuff” it seems pretty big and unmistakable. We pray for direction and then go with some sort of small “sign” or strong feeling and then declare that as God’s inerrant Word. So, this is what I objectively observe in college: Many students I have talked to believe God has called them to a particular school. They spend a semester or two there and then leave (racking up a couple grand in school loans in the process.) So were they being disobedient by coming or by leaving? Or did God just call them there for a few months in order to get in debt and then leave? This is just one of hundreds of examples I see. Saying God called you to a house or a job or a school or a gym is so easy to say and much harder to prove without something actually miraculous. I’m not saying God didn’t do it for you, but do not put that calling on the same level as Scripture. It becomes a slippery slope. It absolves a certain amount of personal responsibility. Just to stick with the college example: A student fails out of school and then just passes it off as God had me go through this trial to teach me humility. Again, I never want to speak for God, but maybe you played too many video games and didn’t study enough? Could that be the reason you failed? And whether I evaluate a job or a home purchase or the fact that you haven’t been to the gym since January 3rd, I bet there’s a lot of personal decision both good and bad that encompass the full picture of why a direction you went or major purchase you made was a good or bad choice. Don’t take this to mean I don’t think God moves powerfully in people’s lives. I’ve seen students pray and wait and pray and wait and have seen their tuition totally paid for. That looks like God moving to me. But God almost always makes people wait. Again the only absolute truth I have is the Bible, and in almost every instance I can think of God went big and made people wait for it for a lot longer than they were anticipating.
3) People Want to Do What They Want
This is the most problematic. We want what we want. We can’t help that. What we should hope for is for God’s “Wants” to become our wants (and not the other way around.) But how do you know when that time has come? How do you know when you have decreased and He has increased enough to determine that the decision you are making is from Him and not from the deep recesses of your selfish soul? I have 2 answers – the answer Pastor Joe would give and the answer I really want to say. Pastor Joe would say, be sure you are in God’s Word and praying and that there is no sinful actions or motives taking root in your life right now, and you will continue to see that God is puling your will closer to His own. Prayer is like being on a boat and throwing the rope over the post on the dock. As you are pulling the rope, no sane person thinks they are moving the land closer to the boat. Like they are actually moving the continental plate of America 3 feet closer to your floating raft. No, every rational person knows that even though you are standing on the deck of your boat your pulling of the rope is pulling it closer to the land. The same is true in prayer. God is not being moved closer to your position. You are being moved closer to His. So pray, pray, pray and make a decision and the Lord will be in it.
But what Joe actually wants to say is to just do whatever you want. Go to school or don’t go to school, buy a house or don’t buy a house, I don’t care. You know what God wants? Obedience. Obey what God says in His inerrant, infallible Scriptures. If you are rocking that out of the park and God says to Himself, “Whoa, this human is killing it! Let us reveal more to this human so that they have more to obey. Thus saith Me [the Lord.]” The point I’m making is God is working on who you are, and it is utterly effortless for Him to change the where, the what, and the how. So stop stressin’ on direction and just start working on obedience. He knows what it takes to move you and He can do it so subtly that you don’t even know it was Him or so cataclysmically that the whole planet will know it was God.
Good Paragraph Upcoming
The problem I suppose I am seeing is that so many Christians talk so flippantly about God telling them to do this or that or calling them to go here or there. What other people observe is 2 fold: a) you not following through on that and b) they’re not experiencing the voice of God the way you described it. They then will either adopt your language and continue the cycle or begin to be disenchanted with Christianity because they are awaiting an experience that God does not promise while neglecting the absolute miraculous words contained in their Bible App. I want people to experience a vibrant and deep relationship with Christ. I know that is accomplished through the reading and living-out of God’s Word and the dedicated time of prayer. To act like that isn’t enough or is just a little piece of God’s revelation to us is to diminish their importance – clear and simple. God wants you to be a doer of the Word and not just a hearer. God does things in His time and not yours. God does what He wants regardless* of what you want (*irregardless sounds better to me but apparently the fascists that write dictionaries say it’s not.) So stop the confusion. Talk 10 times more about what God says for us to do in His Word than what you believe the Lord has called you to do. 10 TIMES MORE. (Even if I personally think it should be higher, I’m willing to give us like a nicotine patch grace period to allow us to wean ourselves off.)