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Topic: Peer Pressure (07/05/04)
TITLE: Just Between Friends and God
By Gary Sims
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Fred had been in deep conversation with his friend Charles for several hours as they headed deeper into the mountains for their annual fishing. Their friendship had developed several years earlier when they had served together on the finance team at church. It had been a stressful time trying to balance the church budget with money being very scarce. The first fishing expedition was spawned out of those frustrations when they suddenly felt a need to get away for a few days. Shortly following that first trip, Charles had stopped going to church.
This morning’s passionate debate had erupted when Charles had asked why Fred still bothered spending so much of his time down at that “asylum-for-misguided-hypocrites you call a church.”
Fred, though worried for his friend, had grown accustomed to Charles’ disenchantment for “organized” church. One reason he looked forward to the annual gill-and-fin excursion was to help keep Charles connected to Christianity, even if only by a thin thread.
“All I said,” replied Fred, “is that hearing God’s voice develops as your relationship with Him grows.”
“There you go again,” burst out Charles in exasperation. “Hearing God’s voice? A few lucky people thousands of years ago got to hear God speak but you act as if everyone is supposed to hear God. That’s ridiculous.”
Fred took a deep breath and silently composed his thoughts for another attempt. “My point is simply this: In Jeremiah 29 it says that God has a plan for our lives. If that is true, then how are we to know if we are following that plan if we do not hear and feel Him guiding us along the way?”
“That is a good question,” came the response.
“I think that most of Jesus’ teachings are focused on getting us from the point where we believe in God to the point where we come to know God. God does not want us to simply believe in Him. He desperately wants us to know Him and know Him intimately.”
“Maybe that is true,” said Charles, interrupting as he struggled with a surfacing thought. “But how do we get to that point? How do we come to “know” God?”
“By striving to do the things that Jesus taught.” A light of hope began to fill Fred’s heart. “In those verses in Luke, the lawyer knew that the key to eternal life was to love God and to love our neighbor. Jesus provided us the example of the Good Samaritan so we could see love in action and then He tells us to go and do likewise.”
“And this loving everyone gets us to the point we can hear voices like Joan of Arc?”
“Not exactly.” Fred paused and quietly asked God to help. He opened his eyes and looked across the car to his friend driving the jeep through the morning shadows. The sun briefly illuminated his friend’s hair in a backlight of golden glory. Fred’s heart burst with love and compassion as he knew this child of God desperately needed his help. “As we strive to follow Jesus either in the way we take care of each other or in daily Bible study and prayer, we will discover that He is actively involved in every detail of our lives. We grow to recognize Him in the people we meet, in the songs on the radio, in the Bible verses before us, and, yes, even in a still small voice whispering quietly to us.”
Charles continued to stare out the window but his attitude had softened in some small way. “So you can hear God’s voice?”
“Yes I do, in all the ways I just described and more. The more I seek Him, the more I find Him speaking, guiding, teaching, and loving me. That is why I know that He needs me at that ‘asylum for hypocrites,’ as you call it. He wants me there working in the ministry area that He has chosen for me. It is His plan for my life.”
“So you can hear God’s voice,” murmured Charles. His thoughts seem to drift and His spirit quieted. “I would love to hear His voice, too.”
Inspired by Amos 7:7-17 and Luke 10:25-37