God Speaks to Our Social Context
This week, we ask how God speaks from our social context. By social context we mean, how our God will use both people and circumstances to speak truth into our hearts and minds.
I will suggest 3 ways God uses people to speak to us:
God has positioned people in authority over us in the church Ephesians 4:11-13 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Americans as a general rule have a cultural rebellious streak in us, we don’t like anyone to tell us what to do or how to think or what is true. But, the New Testament is pretty clear that God has structured the church in specific ways and has appointed people to be in various offices that have God-given authority. God speaks regularly through people appointed to the offices he has set and most of us have experienced God’s speaking as a pastor or teacher opens the word up to us.
God speaks through people occasionally Here we are thinking of those times when a person has said something to us that has a ring of truth to it or which pierces the heart and grabs our attention. I think these occasions are what Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 12:7-8 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit. People who can’t know something say something as if they do and what they communicate makes us see something we hadn’t before or gives us clarity or gives us direction.
God speaks through people intentionally This is when we invite wise and trustworthy people to speak into our lives. We seek them for counsel, allow them to correct us, and go to them as a sounding board. Many of us are not in the habit of doing this, meaning there is no one in our life who can help us see our blind spots. A blind spot by definition is what you cannot see: Psalm 27:5 Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. I ask you, “Who have you opened yourself up to? Who is allowed to speak into your life? Who do you pursue to get wisdom and to identify blind spots? Often God cannot use people to speak into your life unless you actually open that door.
God also uses circumstances to speak to us:
Common grace Broadly speaking, this is the idea that God can use anything in culture to communicate to us—a Broadway tune, billboard, work of art, book, or podcast. God is ready to use all kinds of things to speak to us if our hearts are tuned to hear him.
Conflict God often speaks through trials or hardship. Pain by its very nature always grabs our attention. Just as a rock in our shoe stops us from walking, God will often use the pain of a trial or hardship to speak to us.
Circumstance The signs God can use to direct our steps. Asking God for a sign is always a bit dangerous because of our confirmation bias. Confirmation bias seems to be wired into the human brain—it causes us to go out into the world to find validation for what we already believe or desire.
Let us use Lent as the season where we look for God everywhere.