Who is God and who are we? The first question to ask is about Identity. Based on this message, what am I learning about who God is and who we are as people created in God’s image? The identity of God and human identity are inter-related, forming the foundation of Christian knowledge and practice. So, as you listen to a message from Scripture, be attuned to identity. How is this message challenging or reminding me about God’s true character? How is my self-understanding being shaped or refined? What am I hearing that makes me uncomfortable? Where am I being encouraged? Identity is primary.
2. The What? Question.
What am I learning? The second question is about Insight. Now, obviously the “who” question will yield fresh insights, but the question “what new insight am I learning?” broadens our focus. Perhaps the message really opens up a new way of thinking about your work. Or maybe you realize you’ve been viewing irritating people as enemies and your attitude needs to change. Could it be that 15 minutes of Bible reading a day could really change my life? And so on. Simply ask, “what did I learn today?” and see where that leads.
3. The How? Question.
How should I live? Question three moves us into Action. How should I respond? How should I act, based upon what I’ve heard from God’s Word? This is absolutely crucial. Jesus said that people who heard his teaching and put it into practice were like houses built on solid foundations. Identity and insights must become actionable. If they don’t, we are in danger of thinking we are growing as Christians when we are actually hardening our hearts. We must always ask: Based upon what I am learning about who God is and who I am, based upon the new insights I am gaining today, how should I respond? To whom do I need to go to and ask for forgiveness? How will I love my wife more sacrificially? How will I respond differently to criticism? And so on. As James says, “. . . don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” (James 1:22 NLT) Drive yourself to ask this action question every time. Raise it among your friends or at your small group. Don’t let yourself off the hook–do what it says.
Truthfully, good communicators raise these questions to their listeners, challenging us to grapple with identity, insight and action. But often we are listening to people who are growing as communicators, or are struggling to make sense of things themselves. Whatever the scenario, these three questions will help us glean much from even a little, when asked with ready minds, hearts and hands.
Let me ask you: What questions help you connect preached messages to your daily life?
Bonus feature! Listen to a message I gave titled: How to Listen to A Sermon, (and actually get something out of it). (It features different content than this post.) It was divided into two parts: get part 2 here.