Many times, when deciding what to write on this blog, I find myself writing in reaction to something or mentally replying to thoughts or ideas I have heard or read. I suppose that makes me a reactionary. Or, depending on who you ask, a pain in the butt.
Take, for example, my comments last week regarding the material being dished out in a Sunday School lesson. Or words my pastor shared, several weeks ago, regarding prayer. My observations were in reaction to issues related to what I read and what I heard.
I do this not because I believe my opinion is superior. Rather because it helps me think through material or thoughts that come to mind in response to what I am hearing, reading, or seeing. However, the real nub of the issue comes from how I couch my observation in words. Often times it can be harsh and sound very judgmental. I suspect there are moments when that is intended, but most often it is not.
In my walk with Christ, I find the area of speech and sometimes the written word, being my most difficult area of challenge. Then again, I suspect I am not alone in that regard.
What if I wrapped my words in the phrase, “the Lord spoke to me about this and here is what he said….” Would that make a difference? Or “The Lord came to me in a vision and said…” Could that give a sense of the divine to my words or thoughts?
I hear those phrases, or something similar, a good deal. However, does that mean what is said or “seen” is credible? Does God come to us or speak to us in visions? If it is in light of and in response to the biblical text, perhaps, if not – I would be suspicious. When people use those phrases, are they simply euphemisms or slang for, ‘This is what I think is the best direction based on the information we have?” Or is it God saying, “Do this or do that?”
As human beings we can talk ourselves into a good many things and then attempt to legitimize the whole thing by adding some hint of divine direction to the whole experience. Is that indeed legitimate?
The idea or common word for “vision” is used a little more than a dozen times in the NT. The original words used, “horama” and “optasia/optasis”, are the words selected and they mean vision, apparition, a spectacle, or something gazed at. Once you move passed the book of Acts, the only time those words are used is in Revelation. It seems there should be some import in that observation. Not because I make it, simply because it is a fact. “Visions” are not common in the life of the NT church. Of course, something must be said for the “gift of prophecy” as mentioned in 1Corinthians, but that is a subject for a latter time.
Believe me, it would be wonderful if God would speak to me in a vision about my life, my career, my direction for tomorrow. But he does not! Or does he?
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock…. Jesus’ wrap up to the Sermon on the Mount
If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily, and follow me. Jesus’s direct observation to those wanting to be his disciples.
Perhaps the next time I hear some say, “God spoke to me in a vision,” I might reply – “You don’t say.” Then follow that up with, “Did God say in that vision that you must deny yourself and take up your cross and follow Christ, or was it something different?”