The sermon on the mount is recorded in a number of Gospels. In Luke Jesus turns to his disciples and say’s
To you who are listening I say!
- Love your enemies.
- Do good to those who hate you.
- Bless those who curse you.
- Pray for those who mistreat you.
- If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other one.
- If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt.
- Give to all you ask.
- If anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
- Do to others what you would have them do to you.
Matthew records Jesus saying to his disciples right before his ascension. Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit. Teaching them to obey all I have commanded you.
Are we really listening to what Jesus said?
2Ti 1:7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and sound mind.
The love of God is a wonderful gift. For love grants us power, love and sound mind. Fear is the opposite of love. Fear produces hatred, it produces timidity and personal weakness, and it produces confusion.
God loves us so much that he promises to grant wisdom to any who ask him. Of course his wisdom is not like our wisdom at times…so we can at times think / say “What are you doing?” God’s wisdom is peaceable; its kind and not easily angered…and of course his wisdom is his love…so through God’s love we can have peace in the midst of pain and confusion. We can draw on his power, which helps us through trying times and we can draw on his love to help us to forgive – when the alternative is to hate.
Real listening is an imitation of the heavenly reality of the God who listens. Therefore every time we slow down to hear what is going on around us; we find ourselves standing on holy ground.
Scripture say’s to be slow to speak and quick to listen. A common saying is that we have been given two ears and only one mouth…so we should listen twice as much as we speak As a frequent blogger, I’m not quite sure what to make of that saying….
In the natural I find it hard to listen. Often the answers to the questions I have asked are already forming in my mind; and I’m ready to respond to what I think will be said… however in doing so, I am in reality only listening to myself and not to the other person.
Pastors / Churches believe they know the answer to problems. And indeed the Christian church does have the answer to the problem of Sin and his name is Jesus. However do we as the Church, take the time to sit and listen to what is going on around us; so that we can hear the heart beat of what is going on around us, and therefore know how we can best answer the questions that are being raised and in doing so truly make Jesus known?
God doesn’t just hear. He listens. He listens not only to our every word. He listens to every unspoken word. He hears the cry of our heart. He see’s our every action and knows why we do and don’t do what we do and why we respond in the ways we do.
What power would the church have today if we could but do the same?
I came across two great quotes this morning.
God wants us to be present where we are. He invites us to see and to hear what is around us and, through it all, to discern the foot prints of the Holy. Richard Foster.
To acquire knowledge one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe. Marilyn Von Savant.
I believe the pastor needs to be an active listener; active listening involves more then just hearing. It means to understand. For a pastor to understand the community in which they minister; they need to be active in listening to this community. This means to be engaging within it; and not be distant from it.
The pastors listening skills are sharpened by what they see. By what they feel. By how they touch and are touched. And the way they hear is affected by where they go. The very nature of hearing and listening demands a personal response to get involved. While the human nature of the pastor may incline the pastor to recoil and retreat from the horror within the community; the Holiness of God must compel the pastor to go forth in love and engage within and through this community, bringing with them the Love of Christ.
Brian LePort has written an article to honour such a pastor. May our gracious Lord continue to raise up many like him.