Joy Behar criticized Vice President Mike Pence’s faith a few weeks ago on an episode of the View. Behar said, “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you….that’s called mental illness.”
That brings up an interesting discussion.
Is obeying commandments apart of the Christian life? Sure, there is a matter of holiness and obedience.
Is Christianity about faith in things you cannot see. Yes, absolutely. The Bible says that we live by faith not by sight.
So what is Christianity? How do we explain Christianity? Where do we start? Is it with the commandments or the spiritual aspect?
Christianity is not a discipline or a philosophy.
We do not start with a step but we start with a person. This person did not bring a set of rules or a way of life. He brought a solution.
People are natural rebels, giving them more rules only provides more rules to break or shows them to be greater rebels.
People are natural hypocrites, giving them a worldview only provides one more worldview to put into our kaleidoscope of trending philosophies.
The answer is Jesus who fulfills the law for rebels and sends his Spirit to the hypocrites.
The Bible contains stories, songs, rules, prophecy, etc., but all point to Jesus Christ. Like Paul says to the Corinthians, “For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
Did you notice the multiple mentions of “according to the Scriptures”? Jesus would also say that all the Law and Prophets spoke of me.
Jesus is what separates Christianity from other religions. The leaders of Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc., will say that “I can show you the way.” Jesus says, “that I am the Way.” – John 14:6.
Christianity is the following of Jesus. So, how do you follow Jesus?
First, we do so by the word. By “word” I mean, we consume the Word of God. The Bible. It is his primary revelation to us.
In short, everything we need to know to walk with God is found in Scripture.
Prayer is the other primary means.
And now the hot topic. Do we alone talk to God or does God speak to us? This is what Joy Behar criticized Mike Pence for, hearing from God.
Are we crazy, or in Behar’s terms, “mentally ill” to hear from Jesus?
Full discretion, I have never heard an audible voice from God. I have never spoken in tongues.
However, I have had moments, brief encounters, with God where I was either encouraged or in awe because of communication between God and myself.
When I say encouraged, I do not mean that I needed a little pat on the back, I mean that as a Husband or Father at a point in life I did not know how to move forward and before I could even blink, God “told” me that everything was going to be alright.
When I say I was in “awe”, I mean that I felt God’s presence so mightily I was scared not only that his holiness would engulf me but that its might would bring the building down.
It can be just as simple as when I go to my devotional time, a truth is so stunning that I can’t continue reading for something has overwhelmed my mind and heart. God is revealing a truth about himself.
Other times, God uses other people to confirm something in my life. God is “telling” me to push forward.
The surest times I know God is “speaking” to me is when He is telling me to do something that I do not want to do. Just this past week I was told to do something that was uncomfortable. God’s word was preached to me, the opportunity was given to be faithful, and I wanted to say no.
The surefire way of testing if God is telling us something: Is it confirmed by His word? Is what someone is saying to you found in scripture? Does the “voice in your head” line up with the word of God?
Pastors have said, “Do you want to hear from God? Read your Bible out loud.”
It takes adoration of God and devotion to his word to be obedient. If we know what to do, but do not love Jesus, we will sin. If we believe we love Jesus but do not know his word, we can stumble into sin.
In our sermon from Sunday, Sam Poynor was preaching over the calling of Moses in Exodus.
At first, Moses was given a staff by God. God turned this staff into a serpent, Moses ran, and God called him back to show Moses how to turn it back into a staff and use it. Moses then after a tremendous journey of dealing with the Pharaoh of Egypt, the plagues, etc., Moses led God’s people out of Egypt and crossed the Red Sea with that same staff.
The question for us, for growing Christians, are we going to see what God is giving us or run away from it?
I think it depends on how much you are “hearing from God.”
Sam’s message was around how we deal with difficulties in the Christian life. The world will give us stones and serpents, but God can change stones to bread or use them as weights to strengthen us until we can cast them off.
Sam showed us what Moses had seen as a serpent was a weapon of God. Moses began afraid of it, but then it was used to lead God’s people.
A charge of the sermon was to sharpen our gaze on Christ, do not be so shortsighted. In doing so we only produce self-inflicted stones.
Sam preached, “When we are being in the fast lane of following Christ the stones of suffering seem like small road bumps.”
Sam closed with a recent commitment to a mission that God was calling him to. The journey will be hard, there will be some difficulties and dangers, it will be out of the safety and comfort of his home where his wife and child are, but ultimately there will be joy and fruit.
It has been said that Christianity is too mystical for the academic and too grounded in truth for the mystic.
Our personalities tend to drive one way or the other. We are either control-freaks who like our worship to be nice and structured along with our theology or we are emotionally and experience-driven?
In Tim Keller’s book Prayer, he quotes John Murray, “It is necessary for us to recognize that there is an intelligent mysticism in the life of faith…of living union and communion with the exalted and everpresent Redeemer…He communes with his people and his people commune with him in conscious reciprocal love…The life of true faith cannot be that of cold metallic assent. It must have the passion and warmth of love and communion because communion with God is the crown and apex of true religion.”
In closing, I hope to “hear” from God more and I hope to say yes as often.
You can listen to Sam Poynor’s sermon here: Grace Church Sermon Page – Sam Poynor
Recommendations for this part of Christian life:
And I have not read this yet because it is recently published but I hear good things about this book and the writer is excellent: