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Matt Redman says, “Every authentic response in worship comes from revelation. When you become a Christian, you commit your life to God. And then from that moment on, everything you see of God, everything that is revealed to you, everything you find in His Word, everything you realize when you gather with the believers, every time you take a walk under a night sky and gaze up at the stars above is revelation. It’s like fuel for the fire of worship.”
In this amazing diverse world, no two zebras have the same stripes, no two roses, or snowflakes, or fingerprints, or the iris of eyes have the same pattern. Each African penguin has a unique spot pattern on its chest, which zoo-keepers—and other penguins—soon get to recognise.
So too, God shares different revelations, different aspects of his personality, to each of his beloved. God is always speaking, A. W. Tozer says. His voice rises above the din and clatter of the world around us.
Just as we instinctively adjust our description of an idea or experience to our audience, the Spirit who created vast diversity reminds us of ancient truths in unique words and images, differing in emphasis, colour and music, geared towards each of our Myers-Briggs personality, IQ, culture and life-experience, our spiritual age, if you like, and our capacity to be changed by our insights.
And the fresh insights the Spirit gives us, the new wine he pours, needs new words, a fresh expression. New wineskins for New Wine.
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Make it New was Ezra Pound’s slogan, adopted by the Modernist movement.
To write in the fewest possible words, as clearly as possible, exactly what one meant—that was his only lesson in the art of writing, Virginia Woolf wrote of her father, brilliant literary scholar Lesley Stephen, who home-educated her.
We do not need to strain after newness. By being brave and honest and telling the truth the way we see it, we will be fresh. And by trying to say as clearly as possible, exactly what we mean, in our own words, not anyone else’s, we will be unique.
And so no two Christian writers or bloggers writing about prayer, or hearing God’s voice, or loving one another should say the same thing in the same way, because, you see, our experience will be slightly different. No two people will have an identical spiritual experience; different things will strike each of us with gale force.
Last season’s fruit is eaten
And the fulfilled beast shall kick the empty pail.
For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice
To purify the dialect of the tribe (T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding)
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When I expressed my dream of a Blog through the Bible project last year, my daughter Zoe said dubiously, “Do you know Mike Pilavachi is doing that too? Nicky Gumbel is doing that too?”
At first you feel “Why bother”? Nicky Gumbel is cleverer, theologically trained, experienced. Why read me if you can read him?
But God gives each of us unique circles of influence, unique tribes. And our life-experience, personalities, and ways of expressing ourselves speak to our own tribe, in a way someone else’s might not.
And so we continue “writing down the revelation and make it plain that he may run who reads it,” (Hab 2:20), continue recording what we hear the Spirit say, even while John, Mark, Luke Matthew, James, Peter, Paul, Nicky and Mike are doing it too, and doing it better.
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Fortunately, the eight authors of the New Testament were not deterred by the fact that Paul and Luke were clearly better educated and more intelligent and better writers than Peter or Matthew or James or Mark, because all eight of them contribute richly to our New Testament, and we each have a favourite book, and those who have no time for Paul have a lot of time for John or Luke. And vice-versa.