God Speaks to All of Me
“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet.” Psalm 8
The Psalmist asks an important question in Psalm 8, “What makes human beings so special?” It’s a good question, and the Psalmist is right. God has established a special relationship with human beings and he has made us to be wondrous and complex creatures. Our job is to figure out how God speaks through all of what it means to be human. We can break down our personhood into five elements:
Mind — The mind consists of our thoughts and feelings. Both thoughts and feelings are ways that God speaks to us. Thoughts bring objects, concepts, or ideas before our mind enabling us to ponder them. Feelings incline us towards or away from things that come before our minds.
Heart — The heart is the executive center of our person. It is the place where our will or volition, chooses things. Thoughts and feelings move the heart, but the heart or spirit is where we choose. This is why it is our heart that God seeks to redeem and transform so that we choose well.
Body — The body is our personal presence. Our bodies, while infected with evil, are not in themselves evil. Our bodies, can be transformed by Christ, so that through them we act for righteousness. When God speaks to us it is always with and through our bodies—thoughts, feelings, a sense of his presence, deep conviction in our hearts—these things occur in and through our bodies.
Social Context — Human beings are not interdependent beings. We are part of a community, first with God, and second with people. We know and understand ourselves in relation with others. In fact, God’s speaking often comes through this context of social and cultural relationships.
Soul — The last element of personhood is the soul. I see the soul as what ties all of these things together to form a single entity, which is why it is often treated like the person, “Why so downcast, O my soul!”
We are, then, a mind, a heart, a body, a social context, and a soul. We see all these five elements identified when we hear Jesus’ instruction in Mark 12:30-31, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
This level of detail and complexity of our humanity could make the concept of listening for God to speak to us seem unbelievably complicated. Yet, I think we can still keep this quite simple. We already interact with each other and our environment using all parts of who we are, without thinking too much about it. What we are trying to do is simply seek to raise our capacity to pay attention to God in ALL the ways he speaks to the fullness of our personhood. We are ultimately talking about a posture in which we allow God to redeem and transform the whole person. Although we have often closed our hearts and we are amateurs at hearing him speak, we can choose, in our hearts, to now posture ourselves as people who want God to speak to us.