“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”
If someone tells you they hear voices, you’d probably assume they have issues. Issues that require a doctor and medication. Issues that have a title like schizophrenia attached to them. Certainly, there are cases where that is the case; but to some degree we all hear voices. We have a narrative that plays in the background of our lives. We have a story that we tell ourselves attempting to make sense of our existence.
As human beings, we typically have one of two voices ringing in our heads. The first voice says, “work, prove, achieve, and validate.” Accompanied with this voice is either the pride of success or the shame of failure. The second voice says, “You are my beloved son/daughter with whom I am well-pleased.” This voice is freedom. This voice is love. This is the voice of God.
When John writes to his churches, he implores then to discern the spirits (1 John 3:1-2). He calls on them to evaluate their voices they’re listening to and the messages they’re build their lives upon. Everyone has a voice they listen to – it either says “prove” or it say “beloved.”
In his wonderful book Spiritual Direction, Henri Nouwen wrote, “Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that declares we are loved. Being the Beloved expresses the core truth of our existence. We are loved as creatures with both limitations and glory.” It’s the voice of Antichrist that directs toward self-rejection – but it’s the voice of God’s Spirit that points us to know and believe that we are loved. It makes sense that the God who is love uses his Spirit (his voice) to point us to his love! (Romans 5:5) It’s this eternal, unconditional love that is the ground of our very being. When we listen to the Spirit of Love, we are freed to live and we overcome the world and it’s voices. (1 John 4:4-6)
Today, pause and pray. Use this ancient prayer (by Arthur LeClair) exercise – praying each of these phrases for a few minutes, allowing them to soak deeply into your soul.
Jesus, you are the Beloved.
Jesus, I am the Beloved.
Jesus, we are (all) the Beloved.
By Ryan Paulson