|Liturgy by TLW|
Does God Speak Anymore?
Pentecost 4 – Proper 8 – C
1 Kg.19.15-16, 19-21 Gal.5.1,13-25 Lk.9.51-62
The Rev. Thomas L. Weitzel
Our Saviour Lutheran Church, Freeport, Grand Bahama Island
27 June 2004
Does God speak anymore? It’s a serious question. For some of you as Christians, it may seem a frivolous, even silly question. On the other hand, there is a theory out there – and I don’t know whether you’ve heard it or not – but there’s a theory out there that says that God spoke ONCE long ago – in Bible times – to the patriarchs and prophets and to a handful of holy women. And that’s what we have recorded in the Bible. But since Jesus, the time for God speaking is over. That’s the theory.
I wonder, do you believe that? A lot of people do. Some who call themselves CHRISTIAN believe it too, as a matter of fact.
There’s a catch-22 about this question too, you realize. Because as soon as you say, yes, God speaks today, you are open to the NEXT question, which is, “When did you hear God speak to you recently?” And if you answer THAT question, you might just get carted off to the loony bin. That’s the catch-22.
I suppose I don’t need to explain it, but I’m going to, so that it’s painfully obvious. The reason that you might be carted off to the loony bin is precisely because there is a whole world out there who really DOESN’T believe there is a God or, at best, that if there IS God, he is the strong SILENT type, and so if you are hearing voices from the heavens, you really MUST be crazy.
I gotta say, though – when I hear scripture like we just heard this morning, there sure were a lot of crazy people in Bible times too. I mean, look at that. Some strange guy by the name of Elijah comes out of no where, spots a fella in the field behind an ox and a plow, throws his coat over him without a word, and the guy behind the plow instantly kills the ox, offers it in sacrifice and takes off following the stranger without asking a single question or looking back. No you tell me which one was crazier in that story? Elijah or Elisha?
Even Jesus looks a bit crazy in the gospel I just read. One guy offers to follow him, but Jesus kinda puts him off. But then he turns to two others and says, “Follow me,” and then chides them for not dropping everything instantly to do so. Would anyone today be so heartless as to not let a poor guy go bury his father first? Or let the other guy AT LEAST say goodbye to his family? Aren’t there some things that are just more important, more pressing, more of a priority than answering the call to follow? I mean, will it really fit in my schedule???
Boy, these are important question, my good friends. I hope you realize that. All these questions that I am asking today are CRITICALLY important if you are truly interested in rebuilding your ministry. Because unless you rebuild on the foundation of GOD’S leading – and not your own – then it will come to nothing. Unless you rebuild on the PRIORITY of God’s leading – that is, unless you clearly make God FIRST in your life, both corporately and individually – it will come to nothing.
So let me answer the questions that I’ve asked so far.
YES, God still speaks in our world today – and OFTEN!
And the only one who is really crazy, as far as I am concerned as a believer, is the world out there who would say there is no God or that God DOESN’T speak. That crazy world out there desperately needs God and every word that he has to say to them. And so do we.
And what is God saying when he speaks today? He’s saying the same thing he said in Bible times: “Follow me.” And, “Make it a priority.”
How is God saying that to you and to me? Oh, in an incredible number of ways. God says it in the scripture lessons you hear every Sunday. You just heard it today. God says it in the privacy of your own Bible reading and devotions. God says it through the words of other Christians who are loving and inviting and giving and sharing and demonstrating the love of God. God says it in our Church Council meetings and in our committee meetings and congregational meetings. God says it in sermons and in the words of pastors and bishops and deacons and other faithful and dedicated workers for the church who God sends to you. And God says it through the events in your life, if you but take the time to look at them and take note of them.
But there it is, folks. There’s the key to it all. You have to TAKE TIME. You have to take time to look at those signs. You have to take time to listen. You have to keep quiet sometimes in order to hear. Or put more bluntly, you have to shut up long enough to let God speak.
Yes, God speaks to us still today. But sometimes we’re so busy talking, we can’t hear. Sometimes we’re so busy with our own thing – even praying for our own way – that we don’t stop long enough to hear the answer God has to give us.
God speaks today. But do we listen?
And if we listen and hear, do we follow?
Ah, well, now there’s another one that’s at the heart of it too. Sometimes we really DO hear what God has to say, but we really don’t like what we hear. Something gets in the way. Our own desires. Our own agenda or schedule. Our own other priorities. Our own ideas of how things ought to be. Our need to go say goodbye to our family. Our need to go bury the dead or some other such thing. We really DO hear, but are we always ready to follow?
Jesus makes it very clear in the gospel today what our priority needs to be. "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."
Or put another way: Jesus is Lord. And that means I am not Lord. Nor is my schedule Lord. Nor is my sense of convenience Lord. (Don’t you know God and his priorities are seldom convenient?!) No, JESUS is Lord. And the call is to follow HIM. The call that is clearly there – clearly spoken by God as clearly today as in any day – that call is to follow HIM.
Today is about God who is speaking to us as Our Saviour Lutheran Church. Following our worship service, we will learn more about what it means to hear God speak, to listen to his call, to discern God’s will for our lives and for our church. I hope you plan to stay this afternoon to learn about that and participate in that. Because I stand here as a witness to the living Lord: God will speak today, and you will hear.
Listen for him. Listen to him.