What Jesus Said About “Hearing God”

Our world is filled with a lot of noise. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to detach ourselves from noise and distractions and find a quiet place where we can rest, reflect, and draw closer to God. You might even be asking, “Is there any such place as a quiet place any more?”

Well, yes…but you have to go to Minneapolis to find it. There you will discover a room that’s 99.99% sound proof. Interestingly, Steven Orfield, whose company is responsible for creating this sound proof room, said, “The quieter the room, the more things you will hear.” In fact, it’s so quiet that the longest any person has been able to stay in the room is 45-minutes. What does that say about our culture?

God understands the need for quiet. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” It’s in the “stillness” that our hearts and minds are calibrated to the presence of God. It’s in the stillness that we hear God. That might sounds strange to you…maybe even bizarre. But God is active in our world today, and I believe He desires to speak to you and me. He doesn’t have a permanent case of laryngitis, unable to speak any longer. He loves you…and like any “love” relationship, He wants to speak, not just listen. But how do we listen? Where do we begin? And how do you “hear God” without others calling you a lunatic.

As you reflect on Scripture, you will discover a truth that is at the core of hearing the voice of God. In fact, it’s a truth so simple that we often miss it:

Relationship, Not Role, is the Context for Hearing and Obeying the Voice of God

Relationship, Not Role, is the Context for Hearing and Obeying the Voice of God Click To Tweet

So what does Jesus have to say about the topic of hearing God? In John 10, Jesus says that he is the “gate for the sheep.” In other words, he’s declaring that he is the way—the entry point—to a relationship with Father God. But then Jesus begins contrasting a good shepherd and a hired hand. I want you to notice the difference Jesus points out between the two:

  • The shepherd makes sacrifices while the hired hand looks for security – John 10:11-12a says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming.”
  • The shepherd knows his sheep while the hired hand knows of the sheep – Verse 12 says, “A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock.”
  • The shepherd cares about the sheep while the hired hand cares about his salary – Verses 13-14 say, “The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me.”

So what do these differences between the shepherd and the hired hand have to do with hearing God? One word: RELATIONSHIP. The hired hand had a role, but the shepherd had a relationship. The sheep recognize the voice of the one with whom they have a relationship.

When my wife Karen calls me, I immediately know it’s her. I recognize her voice because I’ve spent so much time with her. The same principle can happen with God because God has invited you into a relationship, not into a role. Think About It:

  • Just because you have the role of husband doesn’t mean you listen to the voice of your wife.
  • Just because you have the role of parent doesn’t mean you listen to the voice of your kids.
  • Just because you have the role of student doesn’t mean you listen to the voice of your teacher.
  • Just because you have the role of employee doesn’t mean you listen to the voice of your employer.

Role does not define your ability or your willingness to listen…relationship does. Roles are task oriented whereas relationships are people oriented.

Jesus makes a similar observation in John 15 when he says that he is the vine, we are the branches, and his Father is the gardener. The point Jesus is making is that we (the branches) need to stay connected to him (the vine). And when we do, our lives will produce fruit. He even says that if we remain in Him and His word remains in us, we can ask whatever we want and he will grant it. But then notice what he says in verse 15:

I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. (John 15:15)

Once again Jesus differentiates between role and relationship. Slave was a role. Friend was a relationship. And what was the evidence that the disciples were his friends? Because “I have told you everything the Father told me.” In other words, Jesus made a direct connection between depth of relationship and the ability to hear his voice. Why? Because again…

Relationship, not role, is the context for hearing and obeying the voice of God.

You can’t expect your kids to speak to you if you haven’t cultivated a relationship with them. The same is true with God. You can’t expect to hear direction from God if you haven’t cultivated connection with God. Now back up two verses, and let’s put “relationship” into context.

You can’t expect to hear direction from God if you haven’t cultivated connection with God. Click To Tweet

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. (John 15:13-14)

So follow the train of thought: Jesus calls you his friend; as a friend, you get to hear his voice; when you hear his voice, your response should be obedience. Hearing God always requires an obedient response to God. In fact, why else would we want God to speak to us?

  • Why would you want God to speak words of direction to you if you’re not willing to obey them?
  • Why would you want God to speak words of wisdom to you if you’re not willing to heed the wisdom?
  • Why would you want God to speak words of comfort to you if you’re not willing to receive them?
  • Why would you want God to speak words of courage to you if you’re not willing to act on them?

The reason we respond with obedience to the voice of God is because of our relationship as a friend to God, not because of our role as a slave or hired hand to God. It’s LOVE that opens the door to hear God, because love is at the center of our relationship with Him. And it’s LOVE that drives us to obey God, because of how much we value our relationship with Him. Once again:

Relationship, Not Role, is the Context for Hearing and Obeying the Voice of God

So that that raises a question: Are you in a relationship with God? And if the answer is yes, then are you cultivating your relationship with God? If so, Jesus indicates that you are in an environment where you can hear God. Sound spooky? It’s really not. Is it hard? For most of us it is. But perhaps we make it harder than it should be. After all, relationships are all about communication. Be still…and listen.