Instead of claiming to know what God says, ask questions of one another, such as "How do we understand God in this?" But don't go around pretending to know it all, saying "God told me this. . .God told me that. . . ." . . . You can the prophets, "How did God answer you? What did he tell you? But don't pretend that you know all the answers yourselves. (Jeremiah 23:35-37, MSG)
To start with today, I will apologize to those of you from the pentecostal/prophecy branch of the Christian faith, in case my comments offend you. But today's passage reminded of an earlier incident which struck me as insensitive:
For years I was part of a face-to-face critique group. We met every other week for almost ten years, until our hostess died. Vicki Baker left an unforgettable influence on my life, only partly because of her courageous life in spite of living as a quadriplegic. She described herself as a "wheelchair-bound trapeze artist" because that explained both her high-octane enthusiasm for living and the way she broke her neck.
Like Joni Erickson Tada, she believed that "in every way that matters, (she) was already healed."
One day a new writer visited our group. On her second visit, she told Vicki, "I have a word from God. He wants to do a work of healing in you, starting with your legs."
Embarrassed silence. At the time, the comment struck me as incredibly insensitive. I now suspect the visitor came from a practice where such words are received and accepted. I still think, however,that she handled it poorly.
She might have benefited from Jeremiah's advice today. Perhaps she could have initiated a dialogue about divine healing. Perhaps even that would have felt like an assault. The time is too far removed for me to gauge it today.
Don't pretend you have all the answers.
Ask others what their understanding of the situation is.
Assume that others are seeking God about the same matter. You should find common ground in His answers.
In Jeremiah's time, they faced strong military oppression, the king of Judah already deposed. Rarely did the decision to fight or to surrender carry such a heavy weight. The decision affected many people.
If you feel God is urging a change of direction on you. . .ask the people your decision will impact. What has God told your church? your co-workers? your family? your spouse?
Then listen. . .really listen.
Instead of claiming to know what God says, ask questions of one another, such as ‘How do we understand God in this?’ But don’t go around pretending to know it all, saying ‘God told me this . . . God told me that. . . .’ I don’t want to hear it anymore. Only the person I authorize speaks for me. Otherwise, my Message gets twisted, the Message of the living God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
37-38 “You can ask the prophets, ‘How did God answer you? What did he tell you?’ But don’t pretend that you know all the answers yourselves