As we mentioned in the last post, the two questions we are asking when we lead others in huddle (a discipling vehicle for training leaders in the way of Jesus) are:
- What is God saying to you?
- What are you going to do about it?
Last time we dealt with the common struggle of actually hearing what God is saying to you (instead of simply jumping to a plan out of a sense of guilt or expedience). Today we’ll deal with the other question – the common struggle of responding concretely to what God is saying.
It is, of course, extremely important to really hear what God is saying, but it is equally important to do something about it. God’s word doesn’t actually take root in our lives and transform us unless we respond to it with action. Jesus told us that hearing his words and not putting them into practice was like building a house on a foundation of sand. James told us that we are deceiving ourselves if we merely hear the word, but don’t do it.
Here’s the common struggle we’ve noticed (and experienced ourselves): it’s really easy to be vague when talking about our response to God’s word to us.
For example, we may realize that God is telling us that he is trustworthy, and is calling us to trust him more. It’s easy to respond to this by saying, “My plan is to trust God more this week.”
But this plan is too vague to be helpful. Obviously if we could simply trust God more by trying, we’d be all-stars at trusting him! But, as anyone who has tried this knows, you can’t trust God more by trying to trust God more. Plus how would we know if we actually did trust him more? There’s no way of measuring this, so there’s no way to be accountable to it.
We need to ask a further question – how will you trust God more? What action can you take that would open your life to God’s grace so you could grow in your ability to trust him? What kinds of actual activities can we do that will enable trust? Being as specific and concrete as possible is really important, so we can be accountable to whether or not we actually did what we said we were going to do.
So, using our current example of wanting to trust God more, here are a few plans that would actually be measurable ways of responding to God that allow us to be accountable:
- “I’m going to spend 10 minutes per day meditating on and memorizing Psalm 23.”
- “I’m going to start a thankful journal and write down ten things per day that I am thankful for as a way of celebrating and remembering all that God has done.”
- “I’m going to use a simple prayer exercise every morning and evening to place the people I care about in God’s hands instead of worrying about them.”
- “I’m going to memorize Philippians 4:4-9 as a way of renewing my mind in God’s word about worry and trust.”
Here are a few more common “vague” plans and a concrete alternative:
“I want to pray for my neighborhood more…”
Try something like,
“I’m going to prayer walk my neighborhood three times this week, asking God what it would look like if his kingdom came here, and pray that for by neighborhood.”
“I need to spend more time with God…”
Try something like,
“I’m going to set my alarm for 6:30am this week and spend 30 minutes every morning in prayer and worship.”
“I need to bring more challenge to those I’m discipling…”
Try something like,
“I’m going to read through the Gospel of Mark this week and look for examples of Jesus bringing challenge to his disciples.”
“I’m going to call my old basketball coach and ask him about bringing challenge, because I remember he was really good at it.”
Even though these example plans seem somewhat mundane, this is actually what revolutionizes and transforms our lives, because when we hear God’s word and respond to it in faith, we open our lives to his grace, and God does in us and through us what we could never do for ourselves. It’s his power at work in us that transforms us. Our actions are merely the way that we open the door to him.
One final note: Responding in action to what God has said is never done in order to earn something from God. We are simply responding to His Word to us. We are already adopted and chosen, our obedience is simply a response to his grace, not a prerequisite of it. As Dallas Willard has said, “Grace is not opposed to effort, but to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is simply action.” And, according to Jesus, we need to take action if we’re going to have this new life take root in us.
As we do this, we are transformed. We build our lives “on the rock.” We find ourselves growing in the character and competency of Jesus. All through the simple process of hearing what God is saying and responding in faith with concrete action. Hearing and doing. Simple. We do the things that we can do. God does what only he can do.