I am well aware that when people read the title of this blog post, many different responses will happen. Good ones, uncomfortable ones, bad ones, indifferent ones. We all have a theory or view when it comes to the statement that “God Speaks”.
What does it mean? What does it look like?
I recently visited my hometown, and while I was there I hung out with my best friend Andrew. Andrew is Orthodox by creed and confession. He and I discuss all sorts of things regarding God and Religion every time we chat…some of my favorite conversations happen with him.
During a recent talk, we had an Orthodox Deacon with us. A true treat. During that conversation the Deacon used an illustration I’ve heard before…but in a way that I haven’t heard.
“Imagine you are on an island. Then one day a box washes up – inside you find a Bible. You study that thing. Read it cover to cover over and over and over. You memorize the statutes, the order of things, the commands…all of it.” He continued; “One day, a Christian finds the island after rescue pings reached his boat. He sees you on the island with your group of friends / family…expressing everything you learned in scripture to the T of what scripture teaches…but this Christian is Orthodox. He comes alongside and explains that not everything that is done in Church is in scripture…there are traditions that are assumed and known and shown outside of scripture. That is where we are as Orthodox. There are things that have been done, and maintained in The Church since…well…the beginning.”
The Orthodox view that traditions and beautiful rituals and liturgy of The Faith exist outside of The Bible is one that I wish many Reformed and even Charismatic Christians would explore and embrace.
I am not saying to accept every extra-biblical tradition…but the ones that have been discussed and approved by councils and creeds and confessions of the Historical Church should be looked at and considered with a heavy weight of discerning openness.
Similarly I am friends with many people who claim a Charismatic or Pentecostal expression of faith. These dear friends flow freely in the goodness of God and are quick to sense His presence and voice in their daily life.
Not trying to be cliche, but I have friends who feel they literally hear from God about every little thing…down to where they should eat, what gas pump they should stop at and where they should park when they go to the movie theater. And the craziest thing about these impressions, or unctions? Most of the time these same friends find themselves in crazy opportunities to share their faith simply from the obedience of paying attention to that “Godly poke”.
These friends, generally, do study scripture…but they study it less for deep theological statements, or liturgical truths and confessions…and more for seeking and understanding the Father’s heart and getting closer to a loving and kind and gracious God.
I have been to worship services in all different expressions of Worship. And can I tell you – they are greatly and mostly the same. Other than language, style, and tone…the order of service is generally the same in Charismatic expression and Eucharistic expression.
The common desire from “both camps”? To respond to The Father and remind our souls of His goodness and mercy. That’s it. To make much of Jesus and to express ourselves in ways that we connect with the most.
In both styles of service, we hear The Word proclaimed. The Gospel message clearly preached, and are given time to respond. Whether by creed, confessions, or giving space for Holy Spirit to move and giftings to show up…words of knowledge, affirmation, prophesy…etc.
Both of these moments are sacred. Both are holy. Both can be manipulated or controlled to bring about a selfish desire from someone in charge…but I have noted this is the exception and not the rule. These moments that are made are real. They are a set apart time, a holy time, for His people to hear His voice and to respond.
I have found that many care greatly about FORM when it comes to expression and adoration back to God, The Father. But I believe what matters most is that we respond in spirit and truth.
What have you heard Him speak? How are you responding? They go hand in hand. What good is it to be hearers of the word and no doers – scripture asks..? God (still) speaks. He has spoken, He is speaking…He is near.
Regardless of the form of expression you hold to – it can be embraced that He speaks. What a treasure and JOY that is to know.