How do we deal with Satan and evil in the world today? Do we wear crosses as magical protection talismans to ward off demons? Should we create a spiritual force field around our cars by pasting on a fish symbol? Perhaps having a priest sprinkle our new home with holy water will do the trick?
Everyone listens to someone. Including you! I would suggest there are four voices in our world that are vying for our allegiance, even among us who call our Christians.
1. The voice of reason
My reason becomes the great end and be all. The Bible may say that wives should submit to their husbands as to the Lord, but I think that’s unreasonable in the modern age of women’s empowerment. The Bible says Jesus rose from being dead, but its not reasonable to think that dead corpses come back to life. The Bible says that people are eternally lost without Christ, but no reasonably person would interpret the Bible so literally. Even as a Christian I read that the Bible says dating non-Christians is a bad idea and sin, but I rebel because my reason tells me that this prohibition is old-fashioned and unloving.
Liberal Christianity falls into this broad category. Liberal scholars reject the supernatural and therefore the miracles in the Bible. Their reason prevents them from reading and understanding the Bible in its most natural sense.
Don’t get me wrong: we must use reason. God has given us a brain and common sense, but my reason is not my ultimate authority. Of course, other people’s reason – or opinion – should not be your ultimate authority either.
2. The voice of tradition
If you ask this person why they do something, they say: “Well, we’ve always done it this way!” Traditionalists love doing things the same way that they did 20 yrs ago.
Conservative Christianity falls into this broad category. They sing the same hymns to the same music because that’s what we’ve always done.
You may be the same. You raise your children as you do because that’s how you were raised, regardless of what the Bible may say about parenthood. You shout at your wife because your father shouted at his wife.
Of course some traditions are good, like the tradition of mowing the lawn, or the tradition of having family Bible times, but tradition should not be our ultimate authority.
3. Voice of experience
Most of the songs on the Billboard top 100 are about listening to the voice of my experience: It feels so good so do it.
It feels so good to watch porn, it’s so enthralling to be intimate with my girlfriend, it’s so exciting to read those tantalizing emails from my co-worker, and it’s so sweet to get revenge.
Even some Christians think like this while sinning. It feels so good, and God gave me feelings, then it must be God saying it’s ok.
Charismatic Christianity sometimes falls into this trap by making their experience the ultimate authority for and decider of truth. Just because it happened does not make it right or good or from God!
Experience is a good voice to learn from, ask any parent, but it shouldn’t be our ultimate authority.
4. The voice of Jesus in the Bible
My reason, my traditions, and my experiences may be important and necessary, but ultimately Jesus gets to decide how I live, who I date, what I believe and how I treat others. My ultimate authority is the voice of Jesus in the Bible.
Mark chapter 9 has the account of Jesus being transfigured on a mountain before three disciples. For a brief moment in Jesus’ earthly ministry the veil of his humanity was drawn back to reveal his deity. For a fleeting moment the curtain hiding his divinity is lifted and we see Jesus for who he truly is: God the Son.
A voice from heaven then says something very important. The voice of God the Father says, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” Here is the lesson: If we want to hear the voice of God, we must listen to the voice of Jesus in the Bible.
Everyone listen to someone. There is no end to blogs, opinions, tweets, updates, press releases and best sellers. Who are you listening to? What is your ultimate authority? God forbid you are your ultimate authority.