“A life lived listening to the decisive call of God is a life lived before one audience that trumps all others — the Audience of One.” Os Guinness
My husband and a few friends are reading Os’ book. They are meeting weekly to discuss and pray, and a few chapters in, John and I started discussing various passages that stood out to him. (I’ll be reading the book when he’s finished, and we’ll keep talking I’m sure.)
One paragraph he read aloud to me has stayed with me for weeks…
This stress on living before the Audience of One was prominent among the Puritans. John Cotton expands on the theme of audience. Quoting St. Paul’s letters to the Ephesians, he describes the calling of servants as “not with eye-service as man-pleasers.” Rather, he says, “we live by faith in our vocations, in that faith, in serving God, serves men, and in serving men, serves God.” But is this language simply Puritan word play? Far from it. Living before the Audience of One transforms all our endeavors — “he doth it all comfortably though he meet with little encouragement from man, whereas an unbelieving heart would be discontented that he can find no acceptance, but all he doth is taken in the worst part.”
That is why Christ-centered heroism does not need to be noticed or publicized. The greatest deeds are done before the Audience of One, and that is enough. Those who are seen and sung by the Audience of One can afford to be careless about lesser audiences.
When asked why he was not stung by a vicious attack from a fellow member of Parliament, Winston Churchill replied, “If I respected him, I would care about his opinion. But I don’t, so I don’t.” Similarly we who live before the Audience of One can say to the world: “I have only one audience. I am who I am before God and nothing more or less. Before you I have nothing to prove, nothing to gain, nothing to lose.”
Needless to say, the modern world is light years from the Puritan world. We have moved from the “inner directed” world of the Puritans, in which calling acted as an inner compass, to the “other directed” world of modern society, in which our contemporaries are our real guides — and a roving radar ranges to pick up their cues.
It’s this idea of inner directed-ness versus the roving radar that has stuck with me. I’m going to interchange inner directed with God-directed. To be God-directed requires my paying attention, my getting His words and heart into my heart with Scripture, my trusting obedience to His ways that are higher than my ways.
Marshall Jenkins writes, “We use selective inattention and forgetting to get through life. We assume it is the crazy pace of our lives that is killing us when really it’s our inattention to our deepest desire, the desire for God.”
Leighton Ford, author of one of my favorite books, writes, “Each of us is called to a life patterned by Christ. A life not shaped by inner compulsions, or captive to outer expectations, but drawn by the inner voice of love. To listen to this voice, we need to pay careful attention to where our inner and outer selves disconnect and where they need to come together in a beautiful pattern that reflects Jesus, whose inner life with his Father and outer life of ministering to others were very much one.”
A life drawn by a Voice of love, of mercy, of joy. A life led by a powerful, wise, beautiful Presence. A life enraptured by an eternal, unshakeable Reality. This is what He created and rescued me for. Not waking up and walking through the day with my radar restlessly pointed outward to pick up cues for measuring myself, what should be important to me, or simply, distractions from the richer life I’m cultivating with God and my neighbor.
I want this inner-directedness to be my posture in the world! I want it for all Christians. How else can we hope to be courageous, content and sacrificial in the cultural moment we find ourselves?
It’ll roll around in my mind for awhile… stay tuned. (Do you have any thoughts? I’d love to chat about it.)
Closing with a word from Jan Johnson, “Being a partner of God doesn’t require any role or position. It’s about moving through life living in union with God, bearing his image to the world as we bless enemies and go the extra mile. It’s about taking risks every day to love people instead of achieving more, about letting go of what makes us feel secure, about noticing ing that Jesus has gotten out of the boat once again and following him and saying, So long. Here I go on another adventure. It’s really the only way to live – much better than watching sitcoms or playing video games.” #
photo by Guilherme Stecanella on Unsplash
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