brushing off the brush-off

Don’t suppress the Spirit. Don’t brush off Spirit-inspired messages … (1 Thessalonians 5:19-20 CEB)

I know my experience is not unique, but the norm. I’m a preacher. I’m used to seeing folks of all ages sleep through my sermons or while away the time doing something, anything, but pay attention. I’m a Bible class teacher. My lessons aren’t always top shelf, but still, I know where they come from and how each of us needs what’s being conveyed. I’m a writer, of sorts. I know the hit count on my daily Bible devotionals and so, I know the vast majority of folks spend their time elsewhere.

As a preacher, teacher, or writer, I’m my own worst critic. No one has to tell me my sermons, lessons, or writings are often inadequate because, rest assured, I know it all too well. As soon as I’m finished with the delivery, no, actually while in the process of delivery, I’m beating myself up. “Why did you say it that way?” “Why didn’t you put it this way?” Naturally then, I tend to blame someone else’s tuning out on things within myself. I’m an OC, perfectionist, only-child, human being. God’s word is perfect, I am not, and therefore …

But then a word like this one comes along and not only brings me back to some sense of Christian sanity, reminding me that those who have God’s word coming to them have a responsibility to the Lord that is at least equal to the responsibility of the one through whom that word is coming. And so the logic more nearly, and rightly, runs thus: God’s word is perfect, none of us are perfect, and therefore …

Sleeping through sermons that grapple with Scripture. Brushing off messages tinged with the words of God’s own Spirit. Passing up reading that can feed our spirit for reading that does not much of anything for your our spirit. These have been problems for as long as the paths of God’s word and humans have crossed. It didn’t require an apostle to tell us that, but there’s some twisted sense of comfort this preacher receives through simply knowing that even an apostle of God experienced it, and so wrote:

Don’t suppress the Spirit. Don’t brush off Spirit-inspired messages … (1 Thessalonians 5:19-20 CEB)

Remember: if you are encountering the word of God – it matters not how or through whom – it is a moment the Spirit of God is speaking to your spirit. And so then, how dare any of us ever respond in any way other than that which speaks of real attention, complete respect, and serious consideration?

Is it that we’ve become a bit bored with the Lord because he’s so familiar to us? Could it be that we’ve come to take for granted him to whom all our humility and gratitude is due? Perhaps we’ve lost sight of just how priceless is this possession of ours we call “the word of God?”

I don’t know. I only know that as surely as God speaks to us today through a multitude of means, that I, as a Christian, should ever stand at attention – something within me should pay total attention – whenever and wherever I recognize God’s word is coming my way. Who knows who God will send, in what way, and with what words, to deliver to me the precise words I most need to receive from him today? The danger is most grave not when we fail to recognize God’s word, but when recognizing it for what it is, we respond with indifference.

Let me close with a link to a ten-minute video clip of a people receiving for the first time the New Testament in their native language. I suspect God will use it with you as he used it with me, to bring great conviction and consideration. Here’s the link:

May God bless the reading and hearing of his word. Amen.

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