Opinion

CHURCH CORNER: We’re talking too much, not hearing Christ

By Dan Wilson

Hope Lutheran Church

What would your life be like if you were not able to speak your belief? I lived for three years in a state-run country that censored the press and literally told people what they could say and could not say. It was South Africa during the apartheid regime and, after my experience there, I am convinced we live in a unique and wonderful country.

A country that was founded by people who were smart enough to recognize that the moral fiber of a nation must be based on certain undeniable truths, including equality and rights for all its citizens, respect for each other’s voices, the right to speak so those voices might be heard and the right to worship God as each person chooses.

One of the blessings, and perhaps one of the curses, of the freedoms we have in America is that we must stand for the freedom of someone to speak at the top of their lungs for something we might speak against at the top of our lungs – speaking our opinion against that which would make our blood boil, as our neighbor’s blood boils over what we are saying.

Often, it really is no different for Christians, although it probably should be. Even as Christians, it’s pretty easy to not hear each other. To hear what the God-fearing and Christ-loving Christian in the next pew is saying because we might not agree with them or their life. It’s so easy to talk past each other, not really hearing what the other is saying. Not really understanding each other.

We often get so consumed with debates trying to prove each other wrong that we don’t hear what Christ is saying to us. Or what the people we worship with and love are saying to us. Do we really understand the cry of a loved one whose circumstances and beliefs might be different than ours? Someone with a different perspective? Or do we only hear our voice shouting them down, as we talking past each other? How do we find the respect and caring for each other to really listen to each other?

As I thought about that dilemma, I realized it is in the abundant grace of God given for all people that we can find the courage and the respect to really hear each other. Grace to accept and forgive each other as we are accepted and forgiven by God. Perhaps through God’s unconditional grace we can hear the voice of Christ calling us to find a third way, a way of addressing the issues of this world not through our emotions, but by understanding the realities of life behind the issues.

But sometimes it’s hard to hear our good shepherd, Jesus, with all the geese honking. The geese that are the cacophony of noise and shouting voices that keep us from hearing the truth about God’s amazing grace and love for all people.

When sheep can’t hear their shepherd’s voice, they become confused, disoriented and wander off, leave the flock, and get lost amid a world full of wolves. When we can’t hear our good shepherd’s voice, as we try to convince each other by volume rather than by grace, we, too, can wander away from our good shepherd, our flock, and end up alone in a world full of wolves.

We belong to this flock called Christians not because we are certain of God, but because God is certain of us. Even if we have a little wool in our ears, or have the wool pulled over our eyes by the honking geese of this world.

So if sometimes you have trouble hearing the good shepherd because of all the geese honking, be patient. Some days the voice will sound like a love song and some days it will sound like a curse. Sometimes it is clear and sometimes it is confusing. But our good shepherd, Jesus, will always lead us by still waters and will always restore our soul.

And the good shepherd’s cup will always overflow with grace enough for us all to really hear each other. Thanks be to God.

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