When somebody says they are hearing voices, our first reaction is to think they are crazy. While it is true that this can be a sign of mental illness, the fact is we all hear “voices” (thoughts) in our head all the time. These voices come from many sources (from the most common to the least common):
- Myself (the most common source by far)
- Culture (books, music and video)
- Friends / Family
- The Bible
- Angels / Demons
I know… it sounds like we just stepped of the edge of rational thought but stay with me here. You know there is a dialog in your head constantly. Your thinker (mind), feeler (emotions) and chooser (will) are constantly debating:
- What should I do next?
- How should I feel about what just happened?
- What should I say?
The voices all serve as input to this discussion. It’s important that you not be gullible when listening to voices. There are many voices that you should just ignore.
I think that most of what goes on in my head is me. I have good ideas and bad ideas. My thinker and feeler are constantly processing and interpreting the input of my eyes and ears and trying to adjust. The adjustment comes in various forms.
- Am I good looking enough?
- Do other people approve of my life?
- Do I approve of myself?
There is a societal instinct in all of us. We feel this as the need to belong to a group. We want people to like us and this pressure to be liked causes us to take all sorts of action.
Our thoughts often spring from our fears. In our minds we are imagining giants that we run from as in a dream.
- Financial fears
- Relational fears
- Spiritual fears
If you spend your life running from your fears you will develop an emotional panic we call anxiety. You need to face your fears and confront them with the word of God.
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
You might find yourself saying something like this.
“I’m afraid that I won’t have enough money to meet my needs. But God’s word says My Father knows what I need. Jesus says that I shouldn’t worry about these things but instead seek first his kingdom. I agree with God. I’m going to give my fear to him now.”
The Voice of Culture
This is the voice that says:
- “Come on, everybody else is doing it.”
- “You deserve to be happy”
- “You can do or be whatever you want”
- “Don’t be a prude”
- “Aren’t you getting a little crazy with this Jesus stuff?”
This voice comes from the inputs of friends, family and media. It pressures us to conform. Back in my college days I had a roommate named “X”. His real name was Xavier but he told everyone to call him “X.” Anyway he was a big fan of the band Rush. I listened to Rush all the time and I hear some good things from their voice. They are not Christ Followers (as far as I know) but their songs sometimes speak powerfully.
In the high school halls
In the shopping malls
Conform or be cast out
In the basement bars
In the backs of cars
Be cool or be cast out
Read more: Rush – Subdivisions Lyrics | MetroLyrics
The pressure to conform is at the heart of so much pain in our world. It is the tool of the judgmental person who says “You shouldn’t do that.” It is the tool of the non-conformist who takes delight in pressuring those around them to be like they are. The pressure to be cool is enormous.
“Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”
Romans 12:2 HCSB
When Paul wrote in Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this age” he was speaking about “The Voice of our Culture.” For the first century Christian there were many cultural voices that had to be ignored.
- “You need to be circumcised”
- “Why don’t you worship Artemus of the Ephesians?”
- “You have to worship the emperor first. Then you can worship Jesus”
Paul told those early Christians to not conform. They paid a heavy price for doing so.
“Look! I (Stephen) see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” Then they screamed at the top of their voices, covered their ears, and together rushed against him. They threw him out of the city and began to stone him…
Acts 7:56-58 HCSB
Think about this. All Stephen had to do to save his life was just cave to the pressure. Just tell them what they want to hear. You can tell them a lie. People would have understood if you lied to the Jewish leaders to save your life. Stephen stood up to the pressure even though it cost his life.
God has a reason for telling us (through Paul) to not be conformed to the pattern of this world. The pattern of this world is a pattern of sin and death. Christians are called to live the pattern of heaven instead. Jesus taught us to pray that “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” What is that but a prayer for the pattern of heaven to be done in my life. This is a pattern of life and peace.
After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” Genesis 15:1
May you hear God’s voice today above all others.