There are many times when my job scares me. It can be a little nerve wracking to speak for Almighty God, the Maker of heaven and earth. When hundreds of people gather at Church or conferences and expect to hear from God, the one speaking should take thoughtful inventory of his words.
Whether I am counseling others or teaching, when I consider that I am delivering God’s Word to people, I feel a wave of inadequacy. I love to see people respond to God, but I don’t want to misrepresent or distort God’s Word in any way.
I realize that Scripture says, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God” (I Peter 4:10-11). My work is a calling based on gifting and qualification. I must be faithful to do it well.
Many present themselves as speaking for God but deceive themselves and others. This includes those who use Bible passages to support personal agendas or legalistic systems. I was taught things as if they were the word and will of God— which I later learned were only the cherished issues of the teachers. To say, “God said….” is serious – even when you get it right!
Those entrusted with preaching and teaching must follow the apostle’s instruction: “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15).
There should always be a God-encounter when one speaks on behalf of God. This was expected for Church gatherings in the early Church.
“…if the whole church comes together and ….an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” (I Corinthians 14:23-25).
Nothing seeker friendly about that! Yet it is what we desperately need in our Churches.
When truth about God is declared it should jolt those who drink from the fountain of this life only. I don’t want people to walk out of Church (“the whole Church coming together”) and say, “That was pretty cool.” “It didn’t even feel like Church.” I want them to be reeling a little—trying to gain their mental, emotional and volitional equal Librium.
Imagine a seeker greeting the pastor at the door and saying, “Being in your Church today made me feel like I was a sinner. I felt a little judged. I felt like my anonymity was violated, like the secrets of my heart were exposed.” Good! If the seeker is “an unbeliever or someone who does not understand,” this is what should happen.
I delight to see this type of response week after week at our Church. I can almost read it in their faces. But this doesn’t make it easier to speak for God. The one who speaks is himself and sinner and must deal with the secrets of his own heart. I don’t ever want to make the mistake of Job’s three friends who were rebuked by God “because you have not spoken of me what is right” (Job 42:7,8).
Misrepresenting God can happen in what is not said as well as what is said. This is what makes my “job” more than a little sobering. God have mercy on those who labor to only speak what is right concerning Him!