Listening is an act of love
“I know them, and they follow me.” — John 10:27b
The church has always been under siege. Some of us want to wear rose-colored glasses and say there were better times “back then.” However, since Jesus’ birth as shared in Luke where this poor couple literally becomes a family of three among livestock because they had been marginalized, those who follow Jesus do not always live easily.
But the church, while being pulled and dragged, squished and ignored, is what it has been, a sanctuary. In this sanctuary, we sinful people who do and do not pay attention learn about the nature of Jesus. In the company of squirmy, adorable tikes and 93-year-old veterans who softly snore ten minutes into the service, we learn through experience something that may not seem obvious, especially at first. What we learn and practice is how to listen to God and to each other.
Jesus says something important in this passage about his people. “I know them, and they follow me.”
Jesus knows us because he listens to us. We may question where God is in a tragedy. I know I have done this. When my rant or grumbling ends—and it does pass—I realize something new each time: God was not only there, God was listening. I didn’t cry out to nothing; I cried to a God who heard my every word.
As God listens, we can listen, too. Yes, the church has been and will be poked and prodded, sometimes for good reasons. But it’s always a place of refuge, a source for healing, and a home of hope because here we know God listens to us. In turn, we listen to each other.
Jesus led by example. To listen to those with pain, questions, disconnections, celebrations, addictions and anger is what we’re called to do.
PRAYER: Lord, help us gift others by listening so that your love flows through us to others. Amen.