Becoming a disciple has many facets. One way to look at it surely is to be a good steward. Usually good stewardship is viewed as a responsible handling of money and time as well as lifestyle. I came to believe that it also includes knowing your master very well.
If you want to be a Christian, and you do not want to get to know Christ better, you are an unfaithful steward.
How do I get to know the master more? As Christians we know the answer well: building a personal relationship through prayer and listening to the word of God. In this blog entry I will focus on the second: listening to the word of God.
The bible talks about the word of God extensively, but rarely referring to a book. In the OT, as early as Gen 1:3, we find the phrase “wayomer Elohim”, usually translated with “and God said”. Other translations are “and the Saying of God” or “and the Word of God”. Many believe that this phrase is talking about the impersonated Word of God, in other parts of the OT called the Angel of the Lord. Imagine Abraham. “And the Word of God came to Abram”. Was somebody standing right next to Abram then? And then comes John 1: “And the Word was with God … and the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst them.” Jesus is introduced as this exact impersonated Word of God.
Listening to the Word of God therefore is obeying to the will of Jesus Christ.
But how do we go about this?
Let’s take a detour into physics. Remember the two forms energy can take on? Well, I am going to give you a picture: Imagine a dam with a lot of water it is holding back. If it were not for the dam, the water would flow downhill and destroy whatever gets in its way. Now, being held back by the dam, this destructive energy is still there – potentially. The water still has the potential to do what it would if not the dam. We call this potential energy. On the other side, if the dam brakes, this potential energy gets moving and becomes kinetic energy – energy on the move.
A book in your hand has potential energy. Let it go and – due to gravity – you will experience the energy either by hearing the sound the book makes when hitting the floor, raising dust, or even feel it if it hits your toe.
The bible also contains potential energy. If you keep your bible on the book shelve, this energy will not be converted into anything, just like a battery that is not put into a device like a flashlight. But then most of us have experienced the transforming power of the Word of God coming alive – being converted into kinetic energy in our lives. But how is this done?
There has to be something to unleash the power. With a dam it’s the constant pressure of the water that might brake the dam. With the book it is just letting go. And with the bible?
It is faith that turns the potential energy into kinetic energy. If you just believe in what you read, that will transform you. Imagine reading a verse like “all things are possible to him that believes” and actually believing it. We live so much below our potential!
How do we get faith? First, we are all given a measure of faith when we make the decision to give our lives over to Jesus – and even before that actually, as how were we to make the decision without faith in the first place? It is the word, the calling of the Spirit for the first time transforming in our lives, from potential to movement and change.
And then faith is sustained by hearing, hearing the word of God. Hearing meaning in the Greek to “listen to and set in action”.
What now: we need faith to really hear the word and faith comes by hearing the word? A positive closed loop, cybernetic model, or feedback control system: if one grows, the other grows as well, with no limit. If started, that means – and that God does, as we just learned. And if sustained – we can at any time stop the process by withdrawing and stopping to read and listen.
A few more thoughts on this:
To listen to and set in action. More than not, the potential energy of the bible is just transfered to potential energy in our brains. We know the word of God by heart, but it is not in our heart. And suddenly we are full, and as we don’t see the transforming reality of kinetic energy, we loose our faith and give up or just lay back. Instead, letting the potential energy turn into kinetic energy and letting it transform ourselves first, but before that even is brought to an end by any means letting it touch others and become potential energy and eventually even kinetic energy in other lives, will not only grow the Kingdom of God, but also our faith. We become an energy source instead of a mere energy carrier.
A word about performance and power. To carry something around produces no power in the physic’s sense. There is no transformation of energy taking place, as the potential energy of the thing carried around stays the same – the thing stays at the same level above ground. Yet lifting something we invest kinetic energy to have a higher potential energy – something falling from further up obviously has more power. Lowering something, there is less potential energy in it, transforming it to kinetic energy. Listening to the word of God, we invest and there is more potential energy in us. Acting on it, we let the energy flow as kinetic energy and make more room for potential energy again. And at the end, spend all the potential energy and die empty. Reading the word of God and not acting on it, or reading it without faith is mere performance, while reading it with faith and acting on it is power.
Psalm 1 tells us that he is lucky that chews on the word day and night. If I read the word of God with faith – or for that matter listen to a prophecy or the still small voice with faith – and think about it, meditate as I can’t let go of that wonderful thought that came to life, act on it during the day and dream of its possibilities at night – how much better and more life changing than performing my religious duty of an hour of bible time and prayer a day.
Sometimes we read and hear things in faith and it just becomes potential energy within us. That is wonderful, as there will be a time eventually that we can draw of this potential energy and turn it into kinetic energy – the right word at the right time for ourselves or others. Make it yours. And if the word does not perform right away, just remember – we do not live in an instant world, we live in the Kingdom of God, outside of time.