Some years ago I sat near the front of a worship service as I watched the guest preacher pace back and forth across the stage. He was a popular speaker in our area, and crowds had come to hear what he had to say. My first clue that something wasn’t right was when he started by saying, “I forgot my Bible tonight.” Could he still speak without the Word of God?
It didn’t deter him. He explained that for days he had prayed about what God wanted him to say to us. Also, he told stories about how he walked in his neighborhood, sat at coffee shops, and reclined in his study. He was funny, witty, and engaging, and he kept the crowd entertained.
When he came to his conclusion, these were his exact words: “I tried to do everything I could to figure out what God wanted to say to us, but nothing ever came to my mind. So maybe that means God simply doesn’t have anything to say to us tonight.” With that, he prayed and walked off the stage.
The Word of God
I sat there with my Bible in my hands, dumbfounded. God doesn’t have anything to say to us tonight? There I was, holding a library of sixty-six books that are decidedly and definitively the Word of God, and this guy just said God doesn’t have a word for us? In my mind I said to this guy, “Just open this book anywhere—to Leviticus, for all I care—and read it, and you’ve got a word from God. Save yourself the walk around the neighborhood and the cost of your mocha. Just read the book, and God is saying something to us.”
I am thankful for that experience, for it burned a permanent brand into my heart and mind. In my life and in the church, we are never without revelation from God. At all times, you and I have his message to us in all its power, authority, clarity, and might. We don’t have to work to come up with a word from God. We simply have to trust the Word he has already given to us. When we do, the Word of God will accomplish the work of God among the people of God.
. . . we don’t have to engineer something entertaining to win an audience. The Word is sufficient to hold the attention of God’s people and satisfying enough to capture their affection.
You and I can trust this Word. For instance, it forms and fulfills, motivates and mobilizes, equips and empowers. Also, it leads and directs the people of God in the church for the plan of God in the world. This won’t automatically make everything easy in the church. But as long as Christians together are prayerfully and humbly asking what the plan of God is in his Word for his people, and abandoning our lives to it, we will be unleashing a radical people.
This post was adapted from the chapter titled “God Is Saying Something” in Radical Together, p.39.