Listening is an art.
Listening has also become an endangered species these days. It is so easy to silence voices we don’t like. We click them off. Mute. Close the screen. Turn the cell phone over. Turn down the volume quickly because we are in a meeting.
And so when I read the strange passage today from the gospel of John, I thought of how easy it is to “turn off” scripture we don’t like. Today’s reading can be difficult, with gruesome words and Jesus talking about “drinking his blood” and “eating his flesh”.
“Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” He says the phrase “eat my flesh” four times I believe. No wonder early Christians faced rumors of secret meetings where they engaged in cannibalism and child sacrifice!
As the rumors swirled about this new Jewish sect of folk calling themselves Christians, and them meeting in secret, with stories of cannibalism, it is no wonder. Eating flesh? Drinking blood? And it is right there in the text! And blood is life, and it is not to touch the lips of any good Jew. I’m thinking a lot of folks were confused what was going on, or even what Jesus is talking.
No wonder so many shut their ears to the Gospel.
We know the coded language – that he is referring to the bread and wine of communion. But that doesn’t change the fact that this teaching was difficult and the Jews and disciples were struggling to understand.
How often our ears are shut. How easy it is to turn a blind eye. How easy it is to dismiss crazy talk or people that simply talk too much. With the Word of God there is coded language, difficult subject matter, and twists and turns. It is easy to see why many never get around to reading the Bible.
It is hard for us to hear anything that doesn’t fit our cultural expectations. We live in a world bombarded by technology, and by many voices. We also live in a time of choices, where if we don’t like what we hear, we simply UNFOLLOW them on Twitter, UNFRIEND them on Facebook, or change the channel back to FoxNews or MSNBC when we don’t like what we are hearing on PBS or NPR.
Other times we are simply distracted. There are so many competing for our ears. Even as you read this Morning Reflection, I am guessing there are 20 more tweets that have arrived, begging for your attention, 7 more emails awaiting action from you, and your boss is looking over your shoulder wondering why you are taking 2 minutes for God’s Word.
I beg you. Listen intently for God today. Rest in God’s Words for you today. Cherish them. Don’t pass by them casually like a Tweet that is here today and gone tomorrow. Come back to God’s Word often, and find a deep truth beyond the words, that knits your life into the life of love provided to us by Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.