Thursday, November 27, 2014

Are You Listening

Recently, in my Disciple 5 class we were studying the kingdom sayings of Jesus Christ. The class is focused on painting a picture of who Jesus is and for us to have a better understanding of his ministry. To that end, we not only read about Jesus in the New Testament, we also read the Old Testament, which pointed towards Jesus' coming and what his ministry would be about.

As I was reflecting about the kingdom sayings, the following scripture kept playing over and over in my mind, "And he said, “Go and say to this people: ‘Keep listening, but do not comprehend; keep looking, but do not understand.’ (Isaiah 6:9, NRSV).  This scripture was referenced by Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels as well: "You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive".  (Matthew 13:14, NRSV).

This scripture intrigues me because I hear some folk saying they don't understand a certain sermon or don't like the style of preaching of a pastor, or they comprehend because of the way someone speaks (it could be the person's accent or intonation).  It got me to thinking, "are they listening?, are they really paying attention?, "Are they even trying?" 

I feel revelation is given to some and others, as stated in the above scripture, will listen, and not comprehend, will look and not understand.  Some folk are not where they need to be in their Christian walk. As stated by the Apostle Paul, they may be on milk and not meat ("I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready1 Corinthians 3:2). Jesus' Disciples certainly didn't get it immediately. They didn't understand when he spoke in parables. Jesus had to die on the cross for his words, his kingdom sayings, his actions to be understood by his Disciples. The cross became the symbol of the price Jesus paid for (their) our salvation. When Jesus died on the cross, and was resurrected, his words became real; understanding and revelation was like a switch being turned on for his Disciples and those who followed him.

Some people have to endure trials and tribulations: the loss of a job, or sickness; the death of a loved one; falling into addiction of some sort and feeling as though there is no way out. These are all crosses some must bear and it is in the carrying of the cross that we experience what it means to lean on Jesus. It is in the carrying of our cross that we cry out to God for help, for release, for strength. When we reach a breaking point in our struggle and surrender completely to God and invite him into our lives; when we seek him through his Word, and develop a relationship with him, it is then that revelation and understanding will slowly begin. It is not instant. It is day-by-day. It is constantly seeking and doing his will. It is following in his footsteps: loving the unlovable, seeking the unreachable, by our witness to God's grace and mercy in our lives.

The recent decision of the Grand Jury in the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri is one such example of what it means to live as Jesus did. Despite our anger and unbelief at the injustice carried out against our black men (and boys) and the rampant racism that still exists in America, Jesus is calling us to do things his way. To turn the other cheek, to not allow anger to take hold of us and lead us into sin, to love and pray for those who persecute us, yes, even officer Darren Wilson.

Today, on a day when most Americans celebrate a day of giving thanks, it is my hope that the words Jesus spoke, which are recorded in scripture, will come to life in your mind and you will experience the revelation of being able to listen and comprehend what Jesus is calling us to do.

I pray that as you celebrate this day, you will remember the one who paid the price for our freedom from sin. Blessings for a Happy Thanksgiving!