God speaks life to us

God speaks. God speaks life. God speaks life to us

In the Solomon Islands last October, I met a man who was listening attentively to God. Freddie had attended a World Vision workshop ‘Channels of Hope for Gender-based Violence’ which used the Bible to address domestic violence.

God speaks and men and women are made in the image of God:

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1: 27)

Freddie had heard God’s words before but had not really reflected on their meaning. Now, on discussing these words in the workshop, it became clear to him that because his wife was made in the image of God, when he was hitting her he was hitting God! This transformed him.

Freddie was transformed by truly hearing and applying God’s word. His wife smiled and said, ‘The children no longer run and hide when he comes home. Our family has been transformed.’

God speaks to us in love, calling us to life in all its fullness, calling us home. We hear God’s voice in the Bible.

One person who saw clearly the power of the Bible was a young Indian lawyer who was causing trouble in India nearly a century ago. Gandhi said this,

You Christians look after a document containing enough dynamite to blow all civilisation to pieces, turn the world upside down and bring peace to a war-torn planet. But you treat it as though it is nothing more than a piece of literature.

Gandhi is right! The Bible is not just a piece of literature. The Bible is God’s transforming word. The challenge is to hear God’s voice and apply it to our lives and live the transformation, God’s transformation.

At Christmas we are reminded that God speaks to us through Jesus Christ. The voice of God is heard in the mystery of the Baby of Bethlehem, the Man, the Crucified and Risen Lord of History.

How beautiful is the willingness of our God and Father to reach towards us, to come close to us, to speak to us. As the Letter to the Hebrews (1:1, 2) tells us,

God has spoken to us in these last days, not just through prophets and in many and various ways, but through his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

This is a truth of great comfort and joy for us. The voice of God is a life-giving word.

Sometimes it encourages us and soothes us so that we respond with an intimate ‘Abba, Father.’ Sometimes it corrects and rebukes us so that we respond with a contrite ‘My Lord and My God.’

Consider the ways in which people responded when Jesus spoke – sometimes with awe, sometimes with intimacy, sometimes with fear and trembling.

So our God has spoken to all his people.

For our spirituality to be passionate and our church to be lively it is necessary for us to pay close heed to the voice of God.

We can create programs and ‘advance’ as a church in many ways. But unless we invest in our turning to Christ, we will not hear him. And unless we hear him, we will labour in vain.

In my Presidential Address at Synod this year I made reference to the number of contentious issues being pushed through State Parliament. It is only when we heed the voice of God that we can respond with words that bring life and not tear down, that hold truth and compassion closely together.

My prayer for 2013 is that we will apply the ‘dynamite’ of God’s words to transform our own lives and be so moved by the Spirit of God that our citizenship contribution will elevate the level of public discourse.

God speaks life to us. May God enable us to hear and so live.


+ John   Bishop of Tasmania

See our bimonthly Tasmanian Anglican magazine for God speaks life to us.

See also my YouTube and print,  Bishop’s Christmas message 2012.

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