Have you ever heard a Christian say, “God placed it on my heart” to do such and such? Let’s take a brief look at what a statement like this might mean, and what it says about the relationship between God and human beings.
I believe that when we say God places something on our heart, what’s really happening is that we’re acknowledging that God is able to communicate directly with us. There is no chasm between God and human beings; on the contrary, God is intimitely involved in the ideas and motivations and desires we have.
This can only be the case if certain things are true about God. For instance, God must be present in our minds, bodies, and spirits. This makes sense if we understand God to be omnipresent, as many theologians have proposed. Omnipresence means God is literally everywhere, including in every cell of our bodies.
In this context, is it so hard to imagine God speaks to us?
I believe there is a certain stigma amongst Christians about saying God speaks to us, because we don’t want to be judged as insane. To believers, it’s quite a natural thing to say God spoke to us about this or that, but to unbelievers, who don’t hear the voice of God, it can seem like a sign of mental illness.
The point I wish to make here is that it is perfectly normal, sane, and logical to experience God talking to us. Here’s how I described this kind of experience in a recent post:
God is capable of producing in human beings a mode of mind that is like a veil – it prevents us being aware of Him. He is also able to reveal Himself to the human mind, by speaking directly to it in a mode similar to but distinct from contemplative thought. It is God who makes thoughts arise in our minds, both contemplative thoughts, and those thoughts that are His speech to us. We can experience thoughts that are ours, and others that are God’s. They are similar, but distinct, and all are from God.
I like to refer to God as the ‘cosmic animator’. He is a living God, and He exists as boundless being in this single eternal moment. As I have already indicated, there is no separateness between God and any of His creation. So it is logical that as well as animating everything in the macrocosm (e.g. the movement of planets and other celestial objects), He is also animating everything in the microcosm (e.g. the beating of our hearts, the digestion of our food, the growing of our hair, and yes, even the the workings of our minds).
There is a certain mystery about what exactly the mind is, but I believe neuroscientists are quite wrong when they use language that implies the mind is synonymous with the brain (see this post). There is a spiritual dimension to thought, and I’m quite sure that thought has it’s origin in God, rather than in the physical matter of the brain.
I realise this understanding has profound implications for secular societies that hold to a materialist ideology. We seem to think that scanning brains holds the key to understanding the nature of thought and belief. Psychiatrists prescribe drugs that target the chemicals in our brains in order to try to counteract mental states that are seen as brain disorders. Perhaps the reason why there are so few recoveries from so-called mental illnesses is because they are treated in a materialistic rather than a spiritual way.
God communicates with different people in different ways. Perhaps not every Christian hears the voice of God in the way I have described above, and that’s perfectly okay. God is speaking to everyone all the time; when we read, when we converse, when we listen to music, and when we analyse, consider, and reflect. God also talks to people in more dramatic ways, like dreams and visions. But if God speaks directly to your mind in an intimate and personal way, you’re not crazy, you’re just in touch with the being who created you, who sustains you, and who animates your life.