Tuesday Re-mix –
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”… Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:24-25, 29
The ears and the mind are necessarily connected. That is because hearing requires much more than just ears. When we were children, we could hear the wind blowing through a sea shell but we thought we were “hearing the ocean”. We could hear just fine, but we could not discern very well. Now, as I get older (alas), I am finding that my ears don’t always hear very well. I can be sitting with you in a crowded restaurant, trying to hear what you are saying and my “discernment” has to kick in so that I can make up for what my ears cannot hear. I suppose that balance shifts more and more with time.
Interestingly, our Spiritual hearing works in a similar way. When we are young (spiritually), we don’t discern all that well. We may hear God’s voice, but we hear it along with all the noise and may not have the spiritual maturity to discern that which is God and that which is other. I believe we develop that discernment over time, with the help of the Spirit. I also believe this spiritual skill is critical to our life together in the church. Wasn’t that the point of Jesus’ lesson to Thomas in John 20?
Thomas’ brothers came to him, filled anew with the Spirit and sharing testimony of Christ’s appearance, i.e., the transformation which had happened in their lives as a result of the resurrection. Thomas heard their testimony, but he missed the Spirit in it. He could not (or would not) hear it. He wanted to hear it directly from Jesus.
Not surprisingly, Jesus showed him grace despite his disappointment in Thomas. Here is an important implication of his words to Thomas in v.29: Thomas, you’re going to need to develop spiritual eyes to see the Spirit at work in your brother and spiritual ears to hear God’s voice in him in order to be effective in helping to start this revolution…that is how it will work in my church!
In the church, discerning the voice of God is a sign of spiritual maturity. When we are spiritual babies, we may hear the wind in the sea shell and believe it is the ocean. But as we grow older, we really must develop the “spiritual mind” to know the difference. In order to be effective as leaders among God’s people, we must be getting better and better at discerning the voice of God in His people. Despite their many flaws and despite the “noise” of their flesh, we must learn to listen and to discern and to recognize the Shepherd’s voice when we hear it…even through the thorniest of relationships with our most difficult brothers/sisters. Our effectiveness as a leader depends upon this skill.
Will you listen closely today? What unexpected message will God bring you through a brother today?