From Pauses for Pentecost
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
I wonder what you think God’s biggest complaint in the Bible is. A few years ago, someone explained to me what it is. It may surprise you as it did me. It is not that God’s people don’t pray enough or fast enough or are not good enough. According to Klyne Snodgrass, after he had studied over 1,500 references to the words listen and hear in the Bible, God’s biggest complaint is that people do not listen. If we do not obey God, it is proof that we have not really listened.
The God we worship is the God who constantly wants to communicate with us. This becomes clear in the second and third chapters of Revelation, where the above invitation becomes a constant refrain in the messages to the seven churches. Repeatedly, the people of God are told to listen to what the Spirit may be saying to them. While Spirit-inspired communication can happen in so many different and creative ways, the chief means of God’s personal communication to us usually occurs within scripture. Nothing is more important for us than to hear what God may be saying to us through the pages of the Bible.
Listening to the Spirit speak to us in the Bible is something we learn. We are not inherently good at it. We find it easier to read the Bible to gain more knowledge rather than to hear God speaking to us. God invites each of us to develop our capacity to listen to the Spirit’s whisper. We begin by reading a small portion of scripture carefully and unhurriedly. As we read, we wait for a word, a phrase, or a sentence to get our attention. This may be the Spirit speaking to us. When this happens, we take in what we are reading and think about it more deeply. Lastly, we talk with God about what it may mean for us to live out in our daily lives what we have heard. Listening and obedience always go together. We listen in order to discern how to live differently. Spirit-filled Easter people are people who seek to listen and obey!
Practice listening to the Spirit today. Take your favorite passage of scripture and read it, following the simple steps outlined in the previous paragraph.