For church-going, Bible-reading, God-fearing Christians, that seems a superfluous question. Note however, the question is not, “do you listen to God?” but is, “how are you listening?” If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say, about half of us, myself included (half the time), do not rightly listen to God. The problem lies in the difference in the two following similar looking words. Exegesis. This means a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, primarily of the Bible as far as Christians are concerned.
Eisegesis. This means the “listener-reader” projects his or her own ideas, bias, or preconceptions into the text.
The two words, derived from Greek, look nearly the same. The differences are, “ex-“ means to “lead out” and “eis” means to “lead in.” So, if you are doing the former, you are listening to God, and if you are doing the latter, you are not. My experience shows that many (me not excluded) are doing the latter at most times.
To me, this issue simply suggests that we should, humbly and diligently, take seriously how we listen (read, understand, and apply) to God’s Word.
One writer put it this way, “Why can good Christians study the same Bible passages, be certain that they have found God’s truth and yet end up with contradictory beliefs about what God means? The scary truth is that these disagreements exist even when full-on, Spirit-filled Christians or highly skilled Bible scholars and theologians interpret Scripture. We all believe we are “rightly dividing the word of truth” but, disturbingly, our contradictory interpretations prove that most of us are in error … [and] is likely to have undesirable effects.” (Emphasis added.)
I am convinced that even Moses perceived the “undesirable effects” of improperly “dividing the word of truth.” Standing in the Plains of Moab with the people ready to march into the Promised Land, he has this to say to them. (Or was it a warning?)
“And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you” (Deut. 4:1).
And a little later, “And because you listen to these rules and keep and do them, the LORD your God will keep with you the covenant and the steadfast love that he swore to your fathers (Deut. 7:12)
Beloved, “listening” is always tied to “keeping” and “doing”. Would you not want to abandon self and wait and listen with me for the word of God?
Rev. Robert Chew