Are you listening, really listening?

A friend/peer of mine is a pastor in the Beaumont, Texas area and recently shared a personal story to which I can relate.  Raymond received a text from a member after one of his recent sermons.  The member brings her 96-year-old grandmother to church.  While the grandmother is in outstanding health for her age, she does have some difficulty with hearing.  The grandmother, Dorothy, told her granddaughter that she enjoyed the sermon and asked her granddaughter if she had trouble hearing. “No,” the granddaughter said, but wondered if the question was a sign that her Nanaw was having trouble hearing.  Dorothy explained that while she heard “most of the sermon she just imagined what the preacher was saying at other times”!

Raymond’s observation, and I would amen it, was that “imagining what the preacher was saying” might be the easiest way to improve the preaching in many churches.  (No amens from my readers, please.)  If you “imagined” what the preacher was saying, what would you imagine?  I suppose, because I have been on the listening end of some preaching, that some imagine the preacher was speaking to someone other than them!  We often develop difficulty hearing when the words being delivered hit close to home or speak to an issue that we really had not rather hear about.  It’s called selective hearing or justified hearing; we pick the fruit that we might enjoy, but leave the other hanging on the tree.

On many occasions throughout the New Testament we find the words, “He said to them,“ followed by Jesus’ words of instruction, teaching, or some particular command.  In Luke’s account in Acts 1, we find this:  He said to them, “…but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

What if the disciples had not really listened, but only imagined what he was saying?  I suppose we might not have heard the Good News.  If they had thought His instructions were for someone else, or if they had determined His promise of Holy Spirit empowerment was not sufficient to the task, perhaps they would have just settled onto a pew at the local Jerusalem church and imagined what might have been.

We need to hear and obey.  Many times my boys heard me, but didn’t really obey.  Seems I had practiced that on some occasions as well.  If we hear well and obey well, we cannot begin to imagine what God might do through us!  Are you listening, not just on Sunday to the preacher, but every day? Listen to the Savior.

Pastor Bob

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