“Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed are those who heed wisdom’s instruction.”
“The core discipline of the Christian life is hearing Jesus’ voice.” (Mark Carey)
I’ve been paying half-attention to the early rounds of The X Factor over recent weeks. Of the tens of thousands of people who turn up at the auditions, hoping to impress the judges, there are two frustrating trends year after year:
those who have no singing ability whatsoever, but who will not take constructive criticism from the judges – the hard truth – because their family and friends have told them that they are fantastic, and should follow their dream;
those who clearly have a fantastic voice, but have absolutely no confidence, because they have been told – explicitly by individuals, or implicitly by the wider community, or both – that they will never amount to anything.
Who do we listen to?
Those who will tell us only what we want to hear?
Those who will tell us only what we don’t want to hear?
Or Jesus – who, day by day, will tell us what we need to hear?
Those who won’t hold out challenge where challenge is required in order for us to move forward, on a more fitting path (a course of action that is a better fit for us)?
Those who won’t hold out invitation where invitation is required in order for us to move forward, on the most fitting path?
Or Jesus – who extends invitation and challenge – affirmation and rebuke – and in this way leads us on the best path?
As my friend Mark Carey puts it, “The core discipline of the Christian life is hearing Jesus’ voice.” Because this is the means by which we receive the revelation which enables us to embrace restraint.
So, what have you heard Jesus say to you today, as you have read his Word?
As you have poured out your life in worship?
As you have brought to him your petitions in prayer?
As you have engaged in intentional conversation with others, who are walking alongside you?