A couple weeks ago during chapel service at the Bible College where I’m an instructor, I came close to missing out on a word from God, all because of my superficial assessment of the messenger. I realized that time constraints were at least partly to blame for what I felt was a slip-shod presentation. After all, the man had barely twelve minutes to present a teaching that would have been difficult to follow had he been allotted much more than that. Unfortunately the man’s hand-out didn’t help matters much, for it was complicated, disjointed and even contained some reference errors. Though I didn’t vocalize my critical assessment of the teaching, I did so in my mind.
Yet barely five days later in a totally different setting, one of the men in our prayer group began to expound on the same subject, using the same three verses that made up the heart of the earlier message. To paraphrase Ephesians 1:3-5, “The Christian exists in a relation of rest, selected by God before the world was created, to be sacred, physically pure, morally blameless as a saint, adopted as His son.” This is my identity in Christ.
God got my attention. Over the next couple of days I found myself delving through the man’s handout as well as the deep recesses of my memory where I had shelved his utterances. I ultimately concluded that his teaching constituted an amazing revelation of truth. I’m so glad that God is omni-patient and omni-merciful with the likes of me. When I miss what He sends my way via one source, He doesn’t just leave me hanging out there to dry – but provides an alternate source to confirm and bring clarity to the message.
How often do we tune out a potentially important message because, even before the messenger speaks, we place a presumptive value on what’s likely to come out of their mouth based on something we think we know or have heard others tell us about the messenger, or just because we have a hard time identifying with him or her? I think we do it a lot more than we’re willing to admit, and much more than we even recognize. An elder in a church might opine that the young visiting minister doesn’t have the maturity to teach him anything; while the young congregant may be just as biased against a senior, “whose time has passed him by” and isn’t hip to the latest methods and gadgets.
If we truly believe God’s Word, we have to acknowledge that at times He’s used donkeys, plants and even inanimate objects to get His people’s attention and reveal knowledge. He can surely use the least of us to communicate to His Church, regardless of our individual failings. But only those who are open will receive that truth and become His voice to convey that truth to those within our own sphere of influence.