Excerpt from Hearing God

Hearing God

This book is written for those who already believe there is a personal God, present throughout our world and concerned about what becomes of us. It does not attempt to prove that there is such a God, though what it says may help open-minded people find him for themselves.

The main point is that God has created us for intimate friendship with himself, both now and forever. This is the Christian viewpoint… . As with close personal relationships in general, we may count on God to speak to each of us when and as it is appropriate… .

Our strategy will be to take the highest and best type of communication and guidance we know of from human affairs. We then place these in the even brighter light of the person and teaching of Jesus Christ. In this way we arrive at our model, or “ideal picture,” of what divine guidance is meant to be.

To take this picture seriously is to exclude all tricks, mechanical formulas, and gimmickry for “finding out what God wants me to do.” Indeed the intent here is to make it clear that the subject of divine guidance simply cannot be successfully treated in terms of what God wants us to do if that automatically excludes, as is usually assumed, what we want to do, and even what we want God to do.

Being in the will of God is very far removed from just doing what God wants us to do, … The serious inquirer after divine guidance still must never forget that we could even do all the particular things God wants and commands us to do and still not be the person he would have us to be (pp. x-xii).

The Spirit of the Disciplines

The modern age is an age of revolution— revolution motivated by insight into the appalling vastness of human suffering and need. Pleas for holiness and attacks on sin and Satan were used for centuries as the guide and the cure for the human situation. Today such pleas have been replaced with a new agenda. On the communal level, political and social critiques yield recipes for revolution meant to liberate humankind from its main bondages. And on the individual level various self-fulfillment techniques promise personal revolutions bringing “freedom in an unfree world” and passage into the good life. Such are modern answers to humanity’s woes.

Against this background a few voices have continued to emphasize that the cause of the distressed human condition, individual and social—and its only possible cure—is a spiritual one… . But if the cure is spiritual, how does modern Christianity fit into the answer? Very poorly, it seems, for Christians are among those caught up in the sorrowful epidemic just referred to. And that fact is so prominent that modern thinking has come to view the Christian faith as powerless, even somehow archaic, at the very least irrelevant… .

Christianity can only succeed as a guide for current humanity if it does two things… . First it must take the need for human transformation as seriously as do modern revolutionary movements… . Second, it needs to clarify and exemplify realistic methods of human transformation… . My central claim is that we can become like Christ by doing one thing—by following him in the overall style of life he chose for himself (pp. viii-ix).

The Divine Conspiracy

[Jesus’] basic message, “Rethink your life in the light of the fact that the kingdom of the heavens is now open to all” (Matt. 4:17), presents the resources needed to live human life as we all automatically sense it should be and naturally leads one to become his student, or apprentice in kingdom living… . If I am to be someone’s apprentice, there is one absolutely essential condition. I must be with that person. This is true of the student-teacher relationship in all generality. And it is precisely what it meant to follow Jesus when he was here in human form. To follow him meant, in the first place, to be with him… .

A disciple, or apprentice, is simply someone who has decided to be with another person, under appropriate conditions, in order to become capable of doing what that person does or to become what that person is… . And as a disciple of Jesus I am with him, by choice and by grace, learning from him how to live in the kingdom of God… . I am not necessarily learning to do everything he did, but I am learning how to do everything I do in the manner that he did all that he did.

That my actual life is the focus of my apprenticeship to Jesus is crucial… . I am learning from Jesus how to lead my life, my whole life, my real life… . The cultivation of oneself, one’s family, one’s workplace and community—especially the community of believers—becomes the center of focus for the apprentice’s joint life with his or her teacher. It is with this entire context in view that we most richly and accurately speak of “learning from [Jesus] how to lead my life as he would lead my life if he were I” (pp. 274, 276, 282-83, 285).

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Excerpts taken from The Spirit of the Disciplines (HarperOne, 1998), Hearing God(Intervarsity Press, 1999), and The Divine Conspiracy (HarperOne, 1997) and used with permission.

PC: HayatiKayhan