EXCUSE ME GOD, CAN WE TALK?
Christians are constantly challenged to remember that God is not human. God is
not the perfect human, or the perfectly developed human, or the human with all
supernatural powers. You might say, "I never think God is human."
Do you believe that God thinks like you think? Do you believe in spiritual matters
that you and God stand together on identical positions? Do you believe that your
religious convictions and your spiritual perspectives thrill God because He looks at
everything just as you do? When we believe that God thinks our thoughts, as we all do
in at least some matters, we are humanizing God.
God is totally unlike us in every consideration. He is so different, it defies
comprehension. Let me give you an example.
- Think for a moment about three questions.
- The three questions:
- Who do you enjoy listening to? These are the people it takes no effort to listen
to--it is a pleasure, a joy to have opportunity to listen to these people.
- Who are you willing to listen to? It is not a bad experience to listen to these
people, but neither is it a thrilling experience.
- Who can you listen to? It takes effort to listen to these people, but you can
make yourself listen.
- Let's think about the answers to those three questions. (In each of these
questions I am talking about listening by choice, listening you choose to do.)
- Question one: To whom do you enjoy listening?
- You enjoy listening to people who reflect your educational level.
- I am not talking about people who hold similar scholastic degrees to
- I am talking about people who easily "connect" with your thinking and
your perspectives because you share similar levels of knowledge and
- That person's thinking stimulates your thinking.
- Their thoughts and understanding challenge you without threatening
- You can share and discuss things with this person that you cannot
discuss with just anyone.
- Typically, all of us truly enjoy listening to such a person.
- Question two: To whom are you willing to listen?
- Most of us are willing to listen to anyone who does not:
- Bore us.
- Insult us.
- Attack us.
- Address us with contempt.
- We generally are willing to listen to anyone who has a decent attitude and
treats us respectfully.
- Question three: To whom can you listen?
- You can listen to virtually anyone that you can understand.
- Most of the time, we can choose to listen to anyone who is intelligible.
- If we can follow the person's thoughts, we can choose to listen to the
- That also means there are some persons that we cannot listen to even if
we choose to try to hear and understand.
- There are some who have such a level of ignorance that you cannot
- In no way do I mean that as a condescending statement.
- For example, those of you who are professional or possess specialized
- You encounter people who want to discuss your area of knowledge
and experience, but they simply do not know what they are talking
- They are certain that they know what they are talking about, but
- Because they have too little knowledge, you cannot follow what they
say or respond to their comments.
- You might courteously allow them to talk, but you cannot listen to
- A second example of people you cannot listen to are people who "get
on your nerves."
- You have an involuntary emotional reaction when this person
- Your feelings declare that you actually cannot endure listening to
what they have to say--just listening to their voice is distressful.
- Everything within you shouts that you must get away from this
- In contrast to these very common human reactions, consider God: to whom can
- God can and will listen to anyone.
- God can and will listen to anyone who speaks honestly and openly to Him
from the heart.
- Maybe your first reaction is skeptical, or perhaps you disagree that God can
and will listen to anyone who speaks openly and honestly from the heart.
- If you disagree, you might disagree on the basis of a statement found in John
9:31: We know that God does not hear sinners.
- Please take a Bible and turn with me to John 9, and follow me as we look at the
context of this statement.
- Jesus and his disciples walked past a man who was born blind.
- From the moment of birth he had never seen.
- Today, we understand that this man was probably blind before birth.
- The disciples asked Jesus a common, important theological question of that
day--a question that was often discussed in concern.
- The question: Is this man blind because he sinned or because his parents
- First, let's use the scripture to understand the background of this question.
- In all of God's interaction with the nation of Israel, God's primary means for
blessing these people in all generations was prosperity and physical well
being--remember such men as Abraham, Job, and David.
- God's promises to Israel as a nation and to individuals was peace and
prosperity if they obeyed Him.
- Look at Deuteronomy 28.
- Verse 1--If you obey Me and keep My commandments:
- Verse 3--I will bless your cities and your rural areas.
- Verse 4--You will have many children, and your livestock will
- Verse 5--I will bless you with food.
- Verse 6--You will go and come in prosperity.
- Verse 7--I will defeat your enemies and cause them to be afraid of you.
- Verse 8--I will fill your barns and bless all your work.
- Verse 11--I will make you very prosperous.
- Verse 12--I will give you wonderful growing seasons for your crops.
- Verses l, 9, 13, 14 state the basis for blessings--this is how I will bless
you if you obey Me, keep My commandments, and refuse to reject Me.
- Verses 15-68 state the terrible things that will happen if they do not obey
Him and keep His commandments. Among those terrible things are:
- Verse 22--You will have fever and swelling.
- Verse 27--You will have boils, tumors, scabs, and itch.
- Verse 28--You will suffer madness, blindness, and a confused mind.
- This is the teaching of Moses, of the law of Moses, of the absolute spiritual
authority for the Jewish people.
- Also remember that in the Old Testament the concept of heaven and
hell had not been revealed.
- Prior to Jesus, it was beginning to emerge, but those concepts came to
full revelation after Jesus' death.
- Now turn back to John 9.
- This man was an interesting case.
- He was born blind.
- Someone had not kept God's commandments.
- Had his parents sinned, or had he sinned?
- Jesus said in this case neither sinned; the man was born blind so God could
display His power.
- In verse 6 Jesus spit on the ground, made a mud paste, covered the blind
man's eyes with the mud paste, and told him to go wash it off in the pool of
- The man did, and he returned with his sight--and that caused quite a stir.
- The neighbors began questioning: "Isn't this the blind beggar?" Some said,
"No, he just looks like him;" some said, "Yes, it is him;" he was constantly
telling them, "I'm the man."
- "Well, explain how you can see."
- He told them what Jesus did.
- "Where is that man?" "I don't know."
- Probably because the miracle was performed on the Sabbath day, the day
when the religious law forbid anyone to work, they took the man to the
- The law of Moses strictly forbid working on the Sabbath, and the
Pharisees regard a miracle of this type to be work.
- When the Pharisees heard what had happened, some of them said, "The
man who did this is not from God because he violated the Sabbath."
- Others disagreed, "If he were not from God, how do you explain his power
to do this?"
- They asked the blind man, "What do you say about this man Jesus?" He
replied, "He's a prophet."
- The Pharisees decided it was a hoax; the man never was blind; so they
called his parents.
- The parents were terrified because everyone knew that the Pharisees
would expel anyone from the synagogue who said Jesus was the
Christ--and that would create a major difficulty for the person.
- The Pharisees asked them if this man was their son, and, if so, explain
how he could see.
- They replied that it was their son, but they could not explain how he gained
his sight; "Ask him; he is an adult."
- So the Pharisees questioned the man again, and began by declaring, "We
know Jesus is a sinner. Give God the glory for what happened. And tell
us again how it happened."
- The man was now irritated: "I told you, and you would not listen. Are you
considering being Jesus' disciples?"
- Tension was high. "You follow Jesus; we follow Moses; we don't know
where this man came from."
- "That is astounding! The man gave me my sight, and you don't know
where he came from. We, you and I, know that God does not listen to the
request of sinners; the very fact that Jesus had this power is proof that he
reverences God and does God's will. Never in history has a person who
was born blind gained his sight. If Jesus were not from God, he could not
- Now the Pharisees are really angry: "You were born in sin, and you dare to
try to teach us?" (Oh, the arrogance of self-righteousness!) They threw
him out of the synagogue.
- Jesus heard what happened and found the man.
- He asked the man, "Do you believe in God's son?"
- The man said, "I would if I knew who he was."
- Jesus said, "You are looking at him and listening to him."
- The man declared, "I believe!" and worshipped Jesus.
- Consider the context:
- Who made the statement, "We know that God does not hear sinners"? The
man who received his sight.
- Was he speaking from inspiration when he made the statement? No, he was
not speaking from inspiration.
- Was he making a theological statement or declaring a doctrinal position? No,
he was making an observation based on the evidence.
- What was his point? He was stating the obvious to the Pharisees: they could
not discredit the miracle or the power of Jesus by saying Jesus was a sinner.
- Did the man know who Jesus was when he made this statement? No.
- That statement does not deny that anyone who speaks to God openly,
honestly, and from the heart will be heard.
- I want you to think about something astounding, too incredible to comprehend.
- God can and will listen to the prayers of:
- The most primitive people on earth who do not even have a written
language, and to the most sophisticated people on earth who are patrons
of the arts.
- The most uneducated people on earth, who are illiterate and never had
opportunity for one day of education, and to the most educated people in
- No one is too primitive for God to hear, and no one is too advanced for God to
- All are beneath God, but it does not matter.
- All are sinful, but it does not matter.
- No one is too ignorant, too boring, or "gets on God's nerves."
- He listens to people you and I can't and won't listen to.
"Thank You, God, for Your willingness to listen. Thank You for hearing all people.
Forgive us for not listening as You listen. Thank You for being the God who loves the
world, who loves all humanity, who wants to extend Your grace and Your forgiveness to
every single individual on earth."
I urge you to learn how to pray as you have never prayed before. I urge you to
pray in the full understanding that you are talking to the God who listens.
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
next in series
Evening Sermon, 9 February 1997
Link to next sermon
Link to other Writings of David Chadwell