This is the last of a series of posts on listening.
If we are to listen to God in His way, then we often have to have our feet knocked out from under us. We need to be re-trained by Him into the way of listening.
Sometimes this involves confessing sin. There are very real times when the sin in our lives hinders us from hearing from God. Likewise, there are times when sin in our lives hinders God from truly listening to us (Psalm 66:18-19).
There are two sides to this problem and both relate to guilt. The first type of guilt is healthy guilt. This is when we fail to confess our sin. We ignore the fact that what we are doing is wrong and try to keep on going without dealing with it. We avoid the issue at hand. So . . . God avoids us. The guilt that hangs over our heads becomes like a wall built up between us and God. Our sinful activity – and the sin of our inactivity about it – clogs the communication lines. The clear answer to this side of the problem is that we need to face up to our sin, confess it honestly before God and others, and then turn away from it with our lives. Then God will hear and respond to us.
If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. – 2 Chronicles 7:14
The other side of the problem of God hearing us and us listening to Him has to do with a different kind of guilt. It’s the unhealthy guilt that we build up from a variety of areas. It’s the guilt that says, “I’m not pure enough for God to hear me. I’m not holy enough. I didn’t have my quiet time this morning. I am weak with my lusts. I feel hopeless and suicidal. God could not speak to me, and wouldn’t want to hear me now.”
Unhealthy guilt is the wall that we build up between ourselves and God because of our fears and insecurities. We feel distanced. We feel unworthy. We feel too sinful to be interacting with our holy God.
But Jesus explodes unhealthy guilt. We see Him walking the dusty paths of Palestine with dirty, weak, sinful people. He let a whore wash His feet with her tears. He shared a meal with a despised and deceitful tax collector. He came to seek and save the lost, weak, sick . . . not those knowing themselves to be healthy (perhaps the greatest sickness of all!).
The Apostle John powerfully confronts our unhealthy guilt.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out all fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. – 1 John 4:18
Jesus wants to drive out our fear and unhealthy guilt with His furious love. He wants to draw us near to the Father where we can be who we really are without anything held back.
Jesus comes to us seeking to interact with us, listening and speaking. He wants to confront us with our sin through healthy guilt, but also wants to overpower our unhealthy guilt with His love.
He wants to talk with us in grace and truth.