Summary: You can’t handle the Truth! But God can make you so that you can.
SERMON NOTES: THE POINT OF PARABLES
Why isn’t God doesn’t God speak more “directly?”
1. Because hearing implies doing
2. Because Coercion isn’t Conviction
[2 Sam 23:15 – 16 / 1 Chronicles 11:16-19]
3. Because He already has
[Luke 16:19 – 31]
Title: Plainness isn’t Painless
Text: Mark 4:10 – 12
MP: God’s communication with us is more subtle, because he wants to woo us – not overpower us – into relationship with him.
SO: Introduce / Whet the appetite for the Sunday school series. Answer the nagging question
Why isn’t God more clear?
1. Because hearing implies doing
a. A Few Good Men
b. Deut 5 – The people don’t want to talk to God directly. They want somebody in the middle!
c. Principle is that you don’t get more truth than you can handle (1 cor 10.13 Jude 24),
2. Because he doesn’t want to overpower us
a. 2 Sam 23 (David’s longing to drink from Bethlehem’s well)
b. Conflict of interest (Pastor / Counselee, Teacher / Student, President / Intern)
c. Coercion isn’t conviction
3. Because he already has been
a. We’re not attuned to it (TV signals)
b. Nature (without excuse) – Ps 19
c. The Bible – Luke 16
But because he loves you, he isn’t going to force himself upon you.
Did you hear what Jesus just said in our Scripture?
I daresay his speech writers and spin doctors wouldn’t have liked it very much. Here’s the guy who’s supposedly the greatest Teacher that ever lived, and he’s just told his disciples – We’d better not to be too plain. Otherwise, if they heard, they might turn and be forgiven. It’s almost sounds as Jesus hoped people were having a hard time hearing.
So much for the old advice, ‘Say it plain.’ You’d think that a bunch of people who need to hear Jesus would want it as easy to hear as possible.
The context of this is that Jesus had just finished giving a well-known parable – the one we call the Parable of the Sower, or the Parable of the Soils – and in it he basically said, look guys – the word is going out. It’s being broadcast all over the place. It’s just that a lot of you aren’t able to get it.
Even more interesting – God had already said as much. Jesus is actually quoting from Ezekiel – a book in which God talks as plainly as possible, and everybody comes away thinking God is either mean or weird. But the truth is, it wasn’t ever him, it was us. And he knows us, he loves us, and so he speaks as best as he can to us – assuming in his love he can afford for us to hear him.
Over the next few weeks, I want to introduce a book I’ve been reading by Dallas Willard called Hearing God. Bill is going to be leading a Sunday school series on it pretty soon, and this book does a really good job of tying together the threads about how God talks to us. But I have to say, even after reading the book, the sad truth is that hearing God’s voice isn’t nearly as easy as I originally thought I had hoped it would be.
I’m saying that exactly right there – hearing God is not as easy as I thought I hoped it would be. But one thing that I have already learned is that very ambiguity – the very hardness that I struggle with when it comes to knowing God’s voice – is actually a mercy of God.
This morning, I want to pose a simple question: Why isn’t God more obvious with us? I mean, let’s face it. This is the same God who parted the waters and appeared in the burning bush. I strongly suspect that if God were so inclined, he could take control of every TV set one evening and just, “Hello, everybody. Let me introduce myself – I’m God. Why are you all so screwed up right now?”
I daresay that such a prime time appearance would have a dramatic effect on behavior in this country. All God would need to do is say something like, ‘This Sunday, I want you all to go to church.’ I suspect attendance would be up. That wave right after 9/11 wouldn’t be a blip in comparison. Yes, it would change behavior, but I guarantee you it wouldn’t do a thing to increase the faith and the relationship that God earnestly desires.
Nope, this morning, I want to suggest to you that the very difficulties you and I have in hearing God’s voice directly relate to his purposes for speaking in the first place. I want to suggest three reasons why God’s voice is veiled – and my hope is that you’ll see that it has God’s love written all over it.