August 7th, 2022
The Folly of Designated Hearers
Why don’t we hear God? Or why don’t we hear God more often than we do? Or why don’t we hear God more plainly? May I suggest a simple but accusatory answer? It’s because we’ve stopped listening. We delegate hearing God to “designated hearers.”
The story of us not listening goes back to the beginning. It hits a peak in the time of the Exodus. Israel came out of Egypt and walked with God. God took them by the hand and lifted them up. God then did for all of them what he had previously done for some of them. God spoke!!
God spoke to all of them. He spoke to all of them at one time. It was loud. It was plain. It was massive. His voice boomed. It thundered. And they quaked… trembled… reeled… shook… quivered… and they covered their ears. And worst, they said “Stop! Enough… Let’s not do this!” And then some of them came up with a brilliant plan. They said, “let’s have a designated hearer! Hey, let’s let Moses Do It!” (Read the story for yourself in Exodus 19-20.)
Here is our problem, we delegate hearing God to someone else. For most of us, hearing God is a contracted-out assignment. Just as I don’t do my own electrical repairs, so also I might try to “hire it done” when it comes to hearing God. We have, as we say, “people for that.” If God has something to say to us we expect him to say it to us through our “designated hearers.”
But us having a “designated hearer” is not God’s plan for us. It’s not his desire. His desire is to meet with each of us. One on one. Individually. He offers private instruction as well as a group plan for when we are assembled.
This is why the earliest Christ-followers worshipped so differently than we do. They would come together in small groups around a table, or in a living room. And they’d worship by simply sharing with one another what they sensed God had been sharing with them individually. (Check it out in 1 Corinthians 14:26; Colossians 3:16; and Ephesians 5:19,)
The earliest Christ-followers also gathered in larger groups sometimes… and one person would share in depth, and often at length. (On one occasion the apostle Paul’s sermon went on all night! See Acts 20:7-12.) But generally speaking, following Christ was simply a matter of Hearing God and following his privatized instructions, with a trusted group of friends alongside to help discern truth from falsehood. A “designated Hearer” cannot do for you what God himself wants to do for you.
We are starting a new teaching series on Hearing God. (We start on August 21.) So, I invite you to dive in. Perk those ears up. Pay attention. “Heed ye well!” (I’m not sure what “heed” really means, but it sounds biblical...) And abandon all hope that a “designated hearer” will help you hear God better than you can do on your own, in a group, with the help of the God who loves you and wants you to hear him.
- Pastor Phil