So much noise! Voices assaulting from every corner of our world – people often screaming and using violence to insist on being heard. More common is the insistent seductive lure of distorted truth that appeals to our vanity, drawing us to self-determination and egocentricity. We are demographized and manipulated by advertisers, news organizations, and social media into group think. And if we dare to disagree we are vilified and bullied into compliance! This is where we live today, compelled to buy into ideas that may or may not be genuine, more likely devised to weaponize an agenda. Unless one decides to engage in critical thinking, there is no escape from the delusions of the day – which will change tomorrow.
So many different ways of looking at things! So many ideas of right and wrong! Indeed, what should we listen to? What voices do we tune out and why? That very choice in the garden of Eden is the cornerstone of all human history, altering the course of every single person thereafter. After all, it was the successful marketing campaign of the ‘father of lies’ that destroyed by deception the intended glory and goodness of humanity. Of course, in the twenty-first century we are so much more sophisticated that we can easily deflect the reality and implications of that incident which impelled mankind’s fall and fate, culturally denying that the lie was bought and paid for with the souls of men. Better to blame God for the evil we see. (The blame game began in that very initial interchange: “The woman You gave me, she gave me from the tree and I ate”.) But have we really come so far from Eve’s fascination with the voice of resistance and its allure of being our own god? Evidence would suggest not.
Each of us gets one chance at figuring things out. The options seem limitless, most ideas conceivably realistic when viewed from a particular perspective. Social media admits to aiming at addicting people to their product with the ‘like’ button, which entices the follower to cooperate with the popular narrative to validate his worth. One culture views things quite differently than another. Timing alters perception. If we were born ten, fifty, or a hundred years earlier our perception of reality would be very different for us. Different filters formed by necessities for survival and societal norms of the day ebb and flow over time. How can one know conclusively what to believe about the reason for our existence? Is morality necessary, relative, or universal? What if we doggedly hold to ideals that seem absolute to us, and then discover too late that we missed something? Everybody has a different reaction to such questions: indifference, permanent seeking, absolute adherence to some chosen ideal, anesthetizing escape into drugs, alcohol, technology, sex, or work…the list goes on. But dancing around the question does not solve the nagging suspicion that we were made for something more than a terminal existence on a lovely planet with corrupted inhabitants.
I submit the thought that the Truth Who came to reveal the way to the Father deserves serious consideration in the search for substantive reality. He brings the answer to the lie and the liar. His voice is not loud, demanding, or demeaning (though some of His people might be). It is quiet, reasonable, and very personal. One may think that he or she is incapable of hearing Him. Skepticism is encouraged not only by our technological mindset, but fostered by our own guilt and doubt. The requirement for hearing is the acknowledgement of one’s desperate need for truth, and the open-minded reading of the writings He left us. Listening to radio preachers, friends, or authors can be helpful, but there is the nagging doubt that you are hearing them and not Jesus. If you seek Him with an open honest heart, you will find Him. I suggest reading one of the Gospels, use a modern translation, and ask Him to speak to you personally before you begin to read. Don’t give up! Persist. Don’t expect an audible voice or a flash of lightning – just let your heart allow impressions to sink in. Don’t worry that you will miss it – He knows best how you process things. Ask, seek – and you will find! Many have read the Word with a view to uncover contradictions, to formulate a doctrine, or to pursue God with their intellect. Not surprisingly, they miss God. A cynical heart has closed its ears. God promises the searching soul that He wants to be found. The yearning for Him was placed in your soul so He could satisfy it. Come with a vulnerable honest heart, a desire to know your destiny, and prepare to be amazed!
Here’s what Dallas Willard has to say:
Do Jesus and his Father hear Buddhists when they call upon them? They hear anyone who calls upon them. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:18). There is no distinction between “Jew and Greek,” between those who have “it”—however humans may define “it”—and those who do not, “for the same one is Lord of all, abounding in riches to all who call upon him” (Rom. 10:12).
You cannot call upon Jesus Christ or upon God and not be heard. You live in their house, their ecos (Heb. 3:4). We usually call it simply “the universe.” But they fully occupy it. It is their place, their “kingdom,” where through their kindness and sacrificial love we can make our present life an eternal life. Only as we understand this, is the way open for a true ecology of human existence, for only then are we dealing with what the human habitation truly is.
And the God who hears is also one who speaks. He has spoken and is still speaking. Humanity remains his project, not its own, and his initiatives are always at work among us. He certainly “gives us space,” as we say, and this is essential. But he continues to speak in ways that serious inquirers can hear if they will. We need not, as earlier described, stagger onward in darkness concerning what is truly good and really right. We need not fly upside down. There is a right-side up, and we can find it.—But we don’t have to. We are free. For now.
From The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God. Copyright © 1997 by Dallas Willard.
Here is a little musical bonus. Listen while you let these thoughts sink in.