As a born-again believer, I occasionally experience a strange phenomenon that began when I returned home to Canada a few months after my rebirth in Australia – friends and family started to talk about me in front me as if I weren’t there. This had never happened to me before, except as a child (parents famously talk about their children in front of them). The first few times I experienced this after my rebirth, I made a joke about it, but the people kept on talking about me, despite my trying to add my voice to the conversation. Their response was to turn up their voice volume and talk over me, ignoring my input.
As I mentioned, talking about people in front of them is something that parents often do about their children. Adults may also do it about people they think are mentally incompetent or on their deathbed. People under arrest or otherwise detained likewise experience being talked about in front of them by authority figures. But when I returned to Canada as a born-again believer, I wasn’t a child, I wasn’t on my deathbed, and I wasn’t under arrest or being detained, so clearly these people assumed I was mentally incompetent simply for being a believer.
Twenty-three years into my rebirth, some people must still think I’m mentally incompetent, because they still talk about me in front of me. Some even accuse me of being a fraud. This is how unbelievers make sense in their own minds of born-again believers. If I do something stupid or immoral, they point to my stupidity/immorality as evidence that I’m just pretending to be a Christian (because Christians are perfect, never falling to temptation or doing anything wrong, right?). But why would anyone pretend to be a Christian when Christians are treated with such disdain and outright hatred by unbelievers?
Even as we experience being talked about in front of our faces (in addition to liberally being talked about behind our backs lol), we ourselves are guilty of doing the same thing to God. We know that through the power of God’s Holy Spirit, God and Jesus are always with us. That’s a promise given to us by Jesus on the night before his crucifixion and a condition of our being in the Kingdom. Yet just like the people who talk about us in front of us as if we can’t hear them, we are also guilty of talking about God and Jesus that way.
Being ever-conscious of God’s presence is something we need to learn. We can accomplish this by always including God and Jesus in our conversations. When we’re by ourselves or with other born-again believers, we can talk openly and directly to God and Jesus, knowing that they hear us and we can hear them; when we’re with unbelievers, we can simply be aware that God and Jesus are with us, listening. In those situations, we can talk to them in our mind, even as our mouths are saying something different to someone else.
I believe that Jesus operated this way during his time on Earth. Scripture shows that he sometimes spoke openly and directly to God when he was with his followers, and that he sometimes appeared to be talking to God privately in his head, asking his advice. One of those latter instances was when the woman caught in adultery was brought before Jesus while he was teaching in the temple. Her accusers belligerently demanded that the adulterous woman be stoned to death in accordance with Mosaic law. But Jesus seemed to ignore the accusers and continued with his lesson, stooping down to write on the ground. I believe that in his seeming obliviousness to the drama at hand, he was asking God’s advice on how to deal with what appeared to be a legalistic slam-dunk. When Jesus finally did address the accusers, his response (“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her”) wielded such spiritual authority that it shut them all up and sent them away with their tails between their legs. Only a Word straight from God has the power to do that.
As born-again believers, we need to learn (yes, it is a learning process) not only to be aware that God and Jesus are always with us (hearing our every word and thought and seeing our every action), but to include them in our conversations, whether spoken aloud or in our mind. A large part of the process is simply being reminded of their constant presence. In technological terms, the microphone and speakers are always set to “ON”. How you choose to remind yourself is up to you, but a string tied around the finger or wrist is a tried-and-trued classic option that works. Or you can carry a Bible with you wherever you go. It’s nearly impossible to carry a Bible and not be aware that God and Jesus are right there with you.
I thank God that he and Jesus are always with me, and that they can hear my every word and thought and see my every action. When I was a young and oftentimes foolish born-again believer, I wasn’t always aware of God and Jesus’ presence, and so I did some things I shouldn’t have done and suffered the earned rewards for them. We can avoid those situations (and the suffering they bring) by always being aware of the presence of God and Jesus. If you talk about them, do so knowing they hear you and make them part of the conversation. Don’t just talk to them during designated prayer time or when you’re alone; talk to them all the time.