Phone Call From God
By Dr. Brad Cole
One of the advantages of entering names and numbers on your cell phone is that you know who is calling when phone rings. But when my phone rang a few weeks ago I was more than surprised to see that the name of the caller was none other than, “Jesus”. How could this be? Was this a trick? My heart beat a little faster and I contemplated the amazing possibilities: What should I say? Why is he calling? What does his voice sound like? Finally I jolted to the realization that my stunned thoughts were about to force “Jesus” to leave a message and how could I ever forgive myself for doing that! And so I
As it turns out, I met this “Jesus” several months earlier, although he said people call him “Jesse”. He grew up in Mexico where this is not an uncommon name. I had entered his number in my phone address book and had simply forgotten about it. So much for the excitement! But nevertheless, this brief experience of fantasizing that God himself was dialing my number stimulated many thoughts.
What would it be like to have God call you from time to time? What would it be like the have Jesus’ “phone number” and the ability to call him with any question or just to talk? Why doesn’t God occasionally speak to his friends by direct verbal communication? There have been so many times that a clear answer from God would seem to make all the difference.
2,000 years ago was the only time in human history when anyone could go right up to God and ask their questions. But yet the questions that were asked of Jesus, even by his friends, were generally of this nature: “Can I be first in your kingdom?” “Can I sit at your right side in power?” And even after the resurrection and just before he would be lifted up into the clouds, this was the last question from his disciples: “Lord, will you at this time give the Kingdom back to Israel?” (Acts 1:6) Didn’t they remember Jesus’ words? “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36)
Finally Jesus said, “…it is better for you that I go away, because if I do not go, the Helper will not come to you. But if I do go away, then I will send him to you.” (John 16:7) But why should this be better? Wouldn’t those of us who consider ourselves God’s trusting friends finish the work much sooner and come into the full light of truth much faster if God in visible form would show up every night and talk with us?
What about in the world? Wouldn’t it be a good thing if God would simply show up in downtown Los Angeles as a 25 foot tall pillar of fire? Or perhaps shielded in a cloud so that we’re not too scared. With modern cable T.V. and the internet the entire world would know almost immediately that there really was a God and they could hear his very words. There would not be one atheist on the planet. Wouldn’t this be a positive?
In actuality, it would not! If God were to unmistakably reveal himself in this manner, it is true that all the world would believe, and that the entire world would be trembling and on their knees in worship.
But yet this would not accomplish anything positive from God’s perspective for the question of questions that God wants to settle in the minds of each of his children is not “does God exist?” Rather, the ultimate question is “what is God like?” and the answer to that question cannot come from force or intimidation.
The disciples, despite living with God in human form for over 3 years, were still concerned primarily about themselves and their position of power in the world and they were not asking Jesus the right questions. They needed to grow up and so do we. If God were available for our every question by just a phone call, this would prevent us from developing our God given ability to reason and to think it through. “What should I wear today Jesus?” “Is it OK to eat cheese?” “Which church should I belong to?” “Should I get up at 5:30 or 6:00?” “What book of the Bible should I read today and how many minutes should I read?” “Is that pastor over there saying the truth?” “Which day is the right day of worship?”
God wants us to mature, to grow up, and to become settled into the truth predominantly about one thing: what he is like in character. And for this high ideal he sends the Holy Spirit who is with us and within us and with no less intensity that Jesus’ presence with his disciples! In the upper room, Jesus repeatedly made it very clear as to the function of the Holy Spirit.
“The Helper will come – the Spirit, who reveals the truth about God.” (John 15:26 – GN)
“When the Spirit comes, who reveals the truth about God, he will lead you into all the truth.” (John 16:13 – GN)
“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, who will stay with you forever. He is the Spirit, who reveals the truth about God. The world cannot receive him, because it cannot see him or know him. But you know him, because he remains with you and is in you. (John 14:16-17 – GN)
“The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and make you remember all that I have told you.” (John 14:26 – GN)
Is it not very clear in these words of Jesus that we are not left alone! We have a 24/7 hotline to God as the Holy Spirit of truth “remains with you and is in you.” And specifically, what “truth about God” does the Holy Spirit convict us of? The truth that God is powerful? The truth that God is a bright and glorious being? No. Ultimately, the Holy Spirit convicts us of the truth about who God is in character ultimately bringing us to the reality that God is just like Jesus in character.
This reality about God cannot be forced or intimidated into us. And in fact, in our rebellious state, there would be a very strong coercive element if we could visibly see the eyes of God watching our every word, thought and action. God knows that the only way to convict us of this truth, is to patiently lead us to this conclusion with no arm twisting or coercion but rather that, of our own free-will choice, we have finally understood and rejoiced in this glorious truth about who God is.
Jesus himself gave us a very effective illustration how this process of growing into the truth actually works. After his resurrection, he chose to disguise himself as he walked with those 2 men on the Emmaus road. Why not immediately reveal who he was? Certainly they would have bowed down and worship him with great joy in their hearts. Had they immediately known he was Jesus, they certainly would have listened just as intently to his words as he explained the Old Testament to them.
But our God is so good and so wise! He had a very important reason for not revealing who he was until they were settled into the truth. Jesus used no methods of intimidation, not even the mere force of his gentle and humble physical presence. He wanted to speak to them purely on the grounds of reason and evidence, and this alone led those men to say,
“Wasn’t it like a fire burning in us when he talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)
Jesus maintained his disguise so that they were settled into the truth, and not until that point did he reveal who he was.
We too should have this experience Emmaus road experience with God. We too should experience this fire burning within us as God himself gently leads us closer and closer to the reality of who he is!