Listen to Christ, and also listen to each other

Good listening is an art.  Unfortunately, there are not a lot of good listeners today.
And if you don’t think so, ask yourself how many times you say something and have to repeat it.  You say something,  and the response is “Hmmm?” or “What did you say?”
It’s frustrating when people don’t listen.  Sometimes it’s easier not to talk than to have to repeat things because people won’t listen.
I read of a girl who would walk five miles a day because she knew there was a woman who would really listen to her.  When she was asked about this, she said she’d do it again,  because having someone listen to her was that important.
Recently, I was watching a program on the History Channel about fast food restaurants. In one portion of the show, they were talking about drive-through windows and the millions of dollars the fast food industry loses every year because of the problems caused by employees on the other end of the speaker who were unwilling to listen.  One chain of restaurants was having such a hard time trying to teach employees good listening skills that they actually have hired another company to listen for them. A customer would give their order through the traditional speaker system, but then the order went to a call center hundreds of miles away.  The call center would take the order and dispatch it back to the employees at the restaurant. The chain said it has dramatically cut down on frustrated customers, who would normally drive off with the wrong order.
The art of listening.
You and I hear with our ears,  but we are supposed to also listen with our hearts and minds.  Too often, we just simply hear – we don’t listen.
This is true, not only with each other, not only in the fast food industry, but too often, it is true with our God. We see the Word of God when we read the Bible, or hear the Word of God when it’s preached from our pulpits, but too often we don’t listen. Too often the message of Christ goes unheard from generation to generation because we fail to listen to what Christ is telling us. In Mark, chapter 9 verse 7, we read of Jesus on a mountain with his disciples. Right in front of them, Jesus transfigures, or changes dramatically his appearance, and then the voice of God comes to the disciples saying: “This is my own dear son, listen to him.” We should listen to Christ, primarily, because God is telling us to.
To those who are young and just building your futures, it is important to listen to Christ.  While you are making your goals and dreams and setting your priorities and learning on your own what is right and what is wrong, listen to Christ. When you are seeing so much advertising, and so many people trying to win you over to their way of thinking because it will benefit them and not you, listen to Christ. While you are learning in school and in church, always listen to Christ.
What happens when you listen to Christ? You will find out that when you listen to Christ, he rejects many of the things that so many other people convince you is important. Society will tell you something is important, but Christ will show you that it really isn't. Jesus has your best interest at heart; he will never steer you wrong, Listen to him.
To those who are sad or lonely, I urge you to listen to Christ,  because no one has experienced sadness and disappointment and loneliness like our savior has. He can get us through the most difficult trials of our lives if we just listen to him.
To those who are successful – successful in business, successful in farming, successful in education, or whatever success you may enjoy – please listen to Christ. Why? Simply because you, too, have to put your priorities and values in order. Listen to Christ so that you can always keep in perspective what is most important in life.
And after we listen to what God has to say to us, it is time,  then, that we listen to each other.  When you and I truly listen to each other, we are placing ourselves inside the soul of the other person. Sometimes, that is not a comfortable place to be. Sometimes, we do not want to get involved and so we continually talk about superficial things – things that don’t mean anything – and our days can be literally filled with this type of irrelevance and wasted opportunity to truly listen to another human being. Inside, you and I are people who desperately want to share something that is deep and important, and we are just begging for someone to come along and listen.
However, good listening is an art. We hear with our ears,  but listen with our hearts and minds.
Listen to Christ, listen to each other. What a truly beautiful experience both can be.

Rev. Kurt Simon • First Presbyterian Church

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