Monday, November 10, 2008

An Open Ear

Psalm 40:6-8

I have been thinking a lot recently about the correlation between hearing God and obeying him. In John 10:3-5, Jesus says that those who belong to him are able to hear his voice and follow him. In Greek, the word for "I hear" is akouw and the word for "I obey" is hupakouw; I plan on doing a study on these two words, but without any research it's apparent from the surface that to obey has a dependency on or at least a relation to being able to hear. When my daughter doesn't obey something I told her to do, it's not unusual for her to say, "I didn't hear you."

In Psalm 40, the psalmist emphasizes that God ultimately doesn't seek religious sacrifices from his followers but obedience. God has given the writer "an open ear," meaning that he is able to hear God's commandments, and in v8 he describes the condition of his heart before God by saying, "I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart."

The disciple's life isn't easy, but it doesn't have to be complicated. That's why I describe it as "the simple life." It's not easy to follow God in obedience - there are times that it may cost us greatly. However, the tools that are necessary to follow Christ in obedience and power are not complicated. One of the most important things a disciple needs is an open ear, the ability to hear God's voice - in his Word, through prayer, in daily circumstances, etc - and then obey. The open ear is part of the "intimacy" side of the discipleship coin (one side is intimacy, the other is influence). When a disciple is unable to hear God's voice, his attempts at obedience revolve around what other people have told him/her that God desires and it all degenerates into lifeless religion. However, as the disciples cultivates the ability to listen to God and obey him, his journey with Christ comes alive and immediately supersedes religious obligations.

Do you have an open ear to hear God? Why are you doing the "Christian" things you do? Has God told you to do them? Is there something God has directed you to do - even a long time ago - that has been left undone? Obey him. How do you cultivate an open ear? It's not easy, but it's not complicated! For beginners, understand the truth (with boldness!) that if you have said "Yes!" to Christ, his Spirit lives in you and, by his direction, you CAN hear his voice. Here's the real question: are you listening? Like my daughter, we often have selective hearing because we're afraid that Christ may ask us to do something we don't want to do. The more we try to ignore the Spirit's voice, the more closed our ear becomes. The more we attempt to hear God, the more open it will be. Amazingly simple!

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