You’ll run across a variety of theological opinions on social media, some of it good and some of it not-so-good. One writer I ran across on FaceBook the other day – a self-professed Christian – opined that God speaks only to and through priests. The laity can receive theological and moral guidance only from the clergy.
My knee-jerk response was to shake my head in frustration at such an immature understanding of God. My next response, when I calmed down, was to feel sorry for him. Such a view of God toward all His children is wholly and demonstrably untrue. God is love, and inherent in love is the desire to communicate directly with the beloved.
Jesus said of Himself: I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. . . . .14 I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me . . . and they will hear My voice . . and they follow Me. (John 10:11-14)
A few chapters later He continued: But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. (John 16:13)
I am convinced that FaceBook writer does hear God’s voice. He just doesn’t recognize it – probably because like most of us, he expects it to thunder from heaven and knock him to the ground amidst an explosion of flashing lights.
But from what we find in Scripture, God rarely speaks in such dramatic tones. Most often His voice comes in the form of a gentle nudge, or a whispered, “This is the way, walk ye it”. In my experience, God speaks most often as I read His scriptures.
In his Summa, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that it was the “task of every preacher and of each believer” to teach and to lead others to Christ.” (emphasis mine). The Catechism of the Catholic Church also assures us that God speaks to and through all Christians, and not just to and though the clergy:
" . . . . [lay people] have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and they have a right to make their opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward their pastors . . . . (CCC paragraph 907, my emphasis).
On the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), the Holy Spirit poured Himself out on not only the 12 apostles, but on 120 believers who waited in that upper room. When the crowd outside accused them of being drunk, St. Peter stood up and quoted from the prophet Joel:
‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams; Even on My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit and they shall prophesy. (Acts 2:17-18)
It is important that we note the important promises the Holy Spirit gave the entire Church through Joel’s prophecy:
- God will pour His spirit on ALL mankind.
- Their sons and daughters (the laity) will prophesy.
- Their young men shall see visions of God.
- Their old men shall dream dreams given by God.
Scripture and Church teaching are impeccably clear: God not only speaks to us (most notably through His word), but God also grants each of us the privilege to tell others what He wants them to know – so that they might be saved.
The idea that the God who sacrificially loves us would not communicate directly with His beloved defies not only Scripture and Church teaching – it defies the very nature of love.
And so, Christian, what has God said to you lately?
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