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What I want to say here is so basic that it's almost a first requirement for faith. And yet it seems to be so rare (and so hard to communicate) that it hardly exists in the world today.

What I want to talk about could be called Hearing from God (but then we already have an article with that title), Sincerity (We have heaps of articles on that topic.), Humility (Same there.), or Faith (ditto).

The problem appears to be that people can talk about all of these things in theoretical terms (as we have) and yet never really come to grips with their own inability to hear God say something that they don't already want to hear. And when that happens, then it becomes doubtful whether they have a real relationship with God at all. Sincerity, humility, faith... they all pretty much go out the window if your "God" is not able to tell you something that you don't want to hear.

Because God has given us free will, he will not force us to hear something we don't want to hear. So the initiative lies entirely with us personally. If we continue to close our hearts and minds to correction in areas where our will is stubborn, then our will becomes our god, and the real all-powerful God who created the universe, is left tied up in a corner as a result.

This is how the churches have come to believe that they are following Jesus, even though they can be shown objectively they don't even know what the Jesus of the Bible told his followers to do. The explanation for this extreme hypocrisy is just that they do not let the Jesus of the Bible tell them anything that they do not already want to hear (and that is pretty much everything that he said), at the same time that they imagine or pretend to be hearing things from God that have actually come from their own will. Their will and the will of God are seen as being pretty much one and the same. If, through circumstances, they are forced to change their thinking on something, then they will say that God has shown them that they were wrong. But they will not willingly open themselves up to being told that they are wrong apart from that.

Unfortunately, I see the same thing happening in our own midst. In my more depressed moments I begin to wonder if we have learned anything at all from our observations with regard to the closed minds of the religious establishment. Just because we can show where they have closed minds does not mean that we do not also have closed minds.

For myself, I have found that it is necessary for me to kind of psyche myself up before I can really honestly and humbly hear from God. I have to remind myself over and over of just how stupid and selfish I am and just how all-knowing and loving God is, before I ask him to talk to me.

I have to remind myself that some of the best things God had to say to me in the past were things that every fibre of my being seemed to fight against when I first heard them. Invariably I react in fear when he finally does speak. (See "Fear Not!") I feel myself being threatened and humbled by the things that God is really saying, on those few rare occasions when I open myself up to truly listen to him.

Obviously, if God is smarter than us, then he is going to want to tell us things that we don't already know. And probably the things that he would most want to tell us are the things that we are least open to hearing. It's true that, at times, the things he says will confirm things that we already felt were true. But the hardest things for him to teach us are always going to be those things which go against our prejudices, and against our selfish instincts. There must be volumes of things that he would like to tell us, but which we have never been able to hear, simply because we would not "allow" him to say them.

Unless we are willing to lay all of our prejudices on the altar before we ask him to speak, he is going to be gagged, and we are only going to be able to discern his will (at best) through the frosted glass of our own selfish, stubborn, proud, lazy will.

I cannot stress strongly enough just how important and basic this lesson is. It's a one-point sermon, but it's a point that will either block or unblock whole worlds of revelation, depending on whether or not we take it to heart. How open are you to hearing God say that you are wrong, that you have been, like Saul of Tarsus, kicking against the very things that he would like to reveal to you?

Some of the greatest revelations that I have ever received have come at times when I managed to work up the courage to almost challenge God to tell me something that I had been fighting against. "Go ahead and show me where I am wrong!" I would declare. "Test me! And I promise to do everything in my power to accept whatever you say, no matter how much it hurts." And then he has spoken. And I have discovered just how hard it is to accept what he says.

But that's the kind of challenge that God wants to hear. He wants to hear you agree to humble yourself before your worst enemy, sacrifice your only son, cut off your hand or pluck out your eye, forsake everything that you have, or do whatever else he may ask you to do, as long as he tells you to do it. And if you want his wisdom (instead of your own foolish imitations), then laying yourself open to God in this way is what you will need to do... again and again.

(See also Hearing from God, Fear of the Devil, Self-Righteousness, Lest You Fall, Dreams, and Change.)

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