The reader in our Church has a warm, rich voice with the trace of a Scottish brogue. When he reads, his voice proclaims the Gospel with the best of them. I never gave it much thought, except that one day when his booming voice filled the sanctuary, my daughter (still young, and too short to see past the parishioners) tugged on my arm urgently. “Dad... Dad... is that GOD talking?”
It made me think back to the Biblical classics that used to come on TV when I was a kid. God always had a deep booming voice with a British accent. It’s a quaint take on what it must be like to hear God talk, and very Anglo-centric. If you are a Christian you cannot have read the Bible without thinking about all those people who said God talked to them. Was it audible words? Was it a voice in their heads? How did they know?
Life as a Christian, is to be a stranger in a strange land. Sometimes we would like to hear the voice of God. It would make things a bit easier to have some direct input rather than having to rely on the revelations of others. It sure would be good to have God up close and personal. Forget what would Jesus do. How about a command appearance?
Some luminaries out there claim to hear the voice of God. It makes you wonder if they are better Christians, more holy than you are. There is a veritable cottage industry of cult figures out there in Bible Land who want you to think God is talking only to them, and you had better buy their books so you can find out what He is saying.
Thinking back on my own life, there have been a few twists where I am sure that on some level, I “heard” the voice of God, maybe because I was desperate enough to listen a little closer. Sometimes that meant doing the difficult thing that promised no immediate guarantee. I am glad for those times when I did listen, and also thinking about some of the wrong turns I made, where my “hearing” seemed to be affected by wishful thinking that justified my own choices.
We insist to ourselves that how we feel must be right, but I am inclined to distrust feelings because they often seek to justify selfish motives. Deep down you know. It’s your conscience giving you trouble. Jesus said “Blessed are they who do not see and yet believe”, the kind of people who do the right thing on principle without asking a lot of questions. Jesus also told the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. The rich man wanted to come back from Hades to warn his brothers. Jesus noted - they already had good teaching from the law and the prophets. What makes you think that signs and wonders would work better?
And that would be my point, I think. I am old enough to have quite a collection of “reality checks”, those things in life that sometimes reinforce good advice more than actual good advice. Nothing speaks like reality hitting you over the head. In the same way, good living brings good results in ways that are more reliable than tricks and work-arounds. Honesty is its own reward. Principled people will not look for clever ploys that give them an easy “out” from the necessary work of life.
The people who look for signs and wonders want to be the exception to the rule because they imagine they are special. It’s the Devil’s first sin - pride. That kind of person thinks of himself first with predictable results. Now I know why Jesus tired of having to trot out signs and wonders on request... healing the sick, raising the dead, those people were not concerned about righteousness, they wanted a magician for a painless fix.
There are a number of tried-and-true considerations they call philosophical razors. Occam’s razor states that the most obvious explanation is also most often correct. It should be self-evident to most, that we are going to have to figure out most things in life using our best judgement. It should also be apparent that if you want good in the world, you had better DO some good. Those who claim God is talking to them generally consider themselves to be exempt. No good deeds are required of them. They are the “special deal” crowd.
Over time, you come to really appreciate those who consistently do the right thing. Blessed are those who love righteousness, for righteousness’ sake. In an age where everyone seems to be looking for a special deal, it might be as good as it gets.
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