How often do we hear the words of Jesus, yet fail to listen to him? How many times are we engaged in the struggles and pitfalls of earthly life, and forget that Jesus showed us the way? In reality, it happens all too often. As a pastor, I sometimes wonder if Christians really understand the words God spoke when he said, “This is my Son; listen to him.”
Recently, a colleague asked, “I wonder if the words from my mouth spoken on Sunday make any difference in people’s lives Monday through Saturday?” Truth be told, I often have this same thought. Do Christians listen and apply the words of Holy Scripture, or is the Bible simply viewed as an ancient voice that gives advice from time to time?
As individuals, families and congregations struggle with the many challenges in life, we tend to look for the “fix” or the “remedy” for our troubles. As reality sets sin, we begin looking at bank accounts and bottom lines. All too often we get caught up listening to the voice of struggle, and we forget God is still speaking. We need to hear God’s voice and listen to his Son.
Jesus teaches us to pray, to love others, to forgive and refrain from judging, to give generously and to serve the neediest among us without holding back. In all of this, Jesus teaches us that God is not distant; he is close to his people. God’s love is real; it’s not some imaginary force bringing momentary respite from worry. Prayer is our means to grow in relationship with God; it’s not just a gratuitous gesture before a meal or to open meetings. Holy Scripture speaks God’s Word and its teaching is foundational for all aspects of human life.
So how do we know if our worship, sermons and Bible studies make a difference? Well, if you don’t know where to find the teaching of Jesus, you’re not reading enough. If you’re consumed by worry about issues in daily life, you’re not praying enough. If your offering to the church seems burdensome, or is given without thought, you’re not giving enough. If you grumble about the homeless and the poor begging along the roadside, you’re not loving enough. Listening to Jesus and understanding his teaching, we learn that as we “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” A nice place to start would be looking up this verse.
Prayer : Speak, O Lord, for your servant is listening. Amen.