Are we hearing God's voice?

October 24, 2011

For more commentary on this week's readings, see the Reflections on the Lectionary page, which
includes Epperly's current Living by the Word column as well as past magazine
and blog content. For full-text access to all articles, subscribe to the
Century.

The passage from
Micah raises some important theological questions related to God's revelation.
Micah is clear that focusing solely on our well-being and declaring war on the
poor will lead to a cessation of revelation and vision. Does Micah mean that
God withholds God's revelation, thus plunging the spiritual leaders into
darkness? Or does our failure to attend to the poor create a situation in which
we limit God's ability to inspire us? In one case, God is the sole actor. God
responds to our behavior with decisive action. In the other case, our behaviors
create a situation in which God cannot be as fully present as God desires. God
is still present in our lives but is thwarted to some extent by our turning
away.

We live in a
time when public figures assert that God has called them to run for political
office. Books on spirituality and self-awareness, both Christian and
non-Christian, are bestsellers. Religious figures have celebrity status. The
prosperity gospel still attracts many people, especially among the unemployed
and poor, who are told that if they follow the right spiritual steps, they will
be able to buy beautiful homes and drive expensive cars. Yet the gap between
the rich and poor is increasing.

Could it be that
we are experiencing what Amos describes
as a famine of hearing the word of God? 
In your own congregation, are people hearing the word of God? Are they
even listening? What is preventing us from hearing God's voice? Given the
realities of duplicity asserted by Micah and Amos, how are we to judge the
authenticity of the spiritual guidance we receive?

On a final note,
Paul affirms that his integrity enables his words to be perceived as revealing
divine wisdom. Could it be that Paul's integrity also enabled him to have a
clearer sense of God's vision for the Thessalonian community? Does our clarity
enable God to be more active in our lives?