I was at a talk on teaching/preaching last week, and the guy doing the talk said something that impacted me greatly. He said that we need to have God's word and His spirit on our hearts if we are to teach it authentically. We need to be walking the walk before we can talk the talk.
We are all generally pretty good at talking about ourselves aren't we? We find it really easy to do and can talk about ourselves with a a lot of passion. Why is that? Well firstly, everyone likes talking about themselves. But secondly, becuase we know more about what's going on in our lives more than others do generally. We have the experience of our lives to build up that knowledge, we have it ingrained in us just through the motions of living our lives. People also know that it's authentic. It's our own experience and no one can deny that and the things we've done and the things we've gone through are easy for us to describe as we have the experience to back them up.
How great would it be if we managed to gain the same knowledge and experience of God in our lives? We need to get more of God's heart, more of what He is saying and wanting to do, to be indwelling in us. Of course it involves committment, discipline and sacrifice, but the end result would surely be worth it. I suggest three things we need to do to help us achieve this aim.
The first of these is arguably the most obvious, yet can be one of the hardest for some. We should be studying the Bible and letting its true meaning sink in and write itself on our hearts. Reflecting on the words and teaching of the Bible and life of Christ and letting it impact our lives, medidating on it and making it real. Thinking about how it is relevant to our own lives and culture now and being willing to allow it to challenge our own lifestyle. Making time out of our busy lives to read and study the Bible properly is fundamental to writing God's message on our hearts.
The second way we can get closer to God, get to know Him more and see more of His heart is simply by spending more time wth God in prayer. By this I mean not just praying out loud but listening to God, asking God to put His spirit, His love, His word on our hearts and make it living within us. Not just something we know with our heads, but something that is living and growing in our hearts and impacting our lives. In doing this we can see what He is saying to us and what He is calling us to do or convicting us of.
The third way is to hang out with other Chrisitans, especially those with wisdom, knowldege and who hear from God. People who we can learn from and aborb things from, who give us an insight into God and set an example through their lifestyle. People who can give us guidance and advice, who can in some circumstances disciple and mentor us.
But of course none of this is worth anything without a response. We can hear all we want from the Bible, through prayer and the advice of others. But unless we are applying it and putting into action then its all pointless and worthless. It's been said that wisdom is the application on knowldege, and that certainly applies in this case. It will be hard at first. It takes time to get into good habits and can involve a sacrifice of time, or a resheduling of our daily routine. It can be hard to make choices for God in certain areas of our lives.
However, if we are letting what we read, hear and experience of God really sink into our hearts, really trusting God and allowing Him to challenge us and impact our lives, that response will eventually start to flow out much more naturally. Those things we do will start to become a joy for us, something that our day revolves around, something that we look forward to each morning.
Then the messgae we send out becomes real and true and easy to express, because it will be something that is part of our own life experience, something that is living and growing naturally inside of us. Something that is impacting in every area of our lives. Something that all, Christian and non-Christian, can see is really authentic, real and having a positive influence on our lives.
We're not all called to be preachers and teachers of course, but we all have opportunities to occasionally share our faith. Indeed, if we are living out our faith and its really in our hearts, then people won't even need us to say anything, our actions will speak for themselves. It takes self-discipline and hard work, and is a challenge for us all. I know its a challenge for me, making time for God and putting Him first.
As ever with God, the challenge is big, but the benefits for ourselves and the Kingdom will be immeasurable if we get this right, we put God right at the centre of all we do and write His name on our hearts.