The Voice of Love
On Monday, we took a look at what Nouwen has to say about The Compassionate God in Part One of his book Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life.
Today I had planned to dig into Part Two: The Compassionate Life, but I haven’t been able to get past the end of Monday’s post:
The obedience of Jesus is hearing God’s loving word and responding to it. (34)
We are poor listeners because we are afraid that there is something other than love in God….[Jesus] came to include us in his divine obedience. He wanted to lead us to God so that we could enjoy the same intimacy he did. (38)
We are poor listeners because we are afraid that there is something other than love in God. We do not listen for God to speak because we have somehow internalized the lie that God does not love us, does not want our best, does not care infinitely more for us than we could ever hope or imagine.
We see ourselves in our sinful state, like Jeremiah’s filthy sash, unworthy of God’s mercy and forgiveness. We see God as full of empty promises, all rules and demands and impossible standards.
We think we are not worthy, not able, not enough. We think God is not faithful, not gentle, not loving.
But God has a different message for our ears. God has a different truth for our hearts. We are enough, enough for God. And God is loving, more than we can comprehend. Our God is the God of chesed and lovingkindness, of agape, of John 3:16.
When we listen — really quieten our hearts and minds, still our bodies — to hear the voice of God, do we expect to hear a voice of love?
Maybe we expect judgment, condemnation, demand, criticism, disappointment, unforgiveness. But these voices are not the voice of God in our lives. These are the voices of the world, of culture, of people we know, of our own harsh expectations and guilt and shame, of the lies of the enemy.
When we listen to hear the voice of God and truly hear the still, small voice — that voice, the voice of our gracious and merciful God, is a loving voice.
Jesus shows us by example what it looks like to hear the loving voice of God and respond with obedience. In the same way, we are enabled by our adoption into the family of God to hear that same voice — the loving voice of God — and are called to respond with the same obedience.
Dear lovely reader, if you hear anything other than love in the voice of God, if you are afraid there is anything other than love in God, know that there is freedom in accepting the truth of who you are and the truth of who God is.
The truth is that you are worthy, capable, and enough because you are a child of God.
The truth is that God is faithful, merciful, and loving.
The truth is that y0u can hear the voice of God — anyone can hear from God. And that voice is trustworthy and gentle and full of all the chesed and agape you can possibly imagine.
[Jesus] came to include us in his divine obedience. He wanted to lead us to God so that we could enjoy the same intimacy he did. (38)
Let us allow ourselves to be included and led so that we can enjoy intimacy with God as we have been designed to do.
Okay, next time we really will look at Part Two: The Compassionate Life.