Last night Little Abear was trying to figure something out, and I kept interjecting my "help". When he (quickly) realized it wasn't going anywhere, he told me, "You're helping, but you're not listening."
Wow. That floored me. I have seen it so many times within the Christian culture. Within myself. How quick are we to solve problems, without really listening to what they are in the first place? A year or so ago I was trying to tell a story to a group of people, and one of them latched onto one part of what I was saying and wanted to be helpful on that one point - I ended up bursting into tears because they just weren't listening to my insight on the important facts regarding the individual we were discussing. You see, their intentions were loving, but their pride was unwilling to block the ears of the heart to really listen. I think it might be an epidemic, seen even in the Garden of Gethsemane. John 18 vv. 10, 11 tell us of this event, "Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” You see, Peter's intentions were good enough - he saw a group of soldiers coming to unmercifully take his beloved Master away, so he sprang at the opportunity to be "helpful". But once we begin unpacking the text of the New Testament, don't we see Peter as slightly, well.. rash? His desires are filled with goodness, but it seems like sometimes he just can't help himself. I see SO much of myself in him. And I think, if we're being real, we'd see a healthy percentage of the Christian population falling into this category... "helpful". In spending time with homeless folks, I've learned a million times over that as much as they'd like a handout, they'd so much rather someone to listen to them. Like, really listen. Not just pity them - in fact that's not what they want at all - usually. And, once again, if we're being real, don't we just want to be listened to? We want to pour our hearts out, with someone that won't needlessly judge but put themselves in our place, so that they can truly empathize with us in whatever ordeal we've found ourselves. Isn't that where we find our hope in Christ? He always wants to listen. And He has been in our place, and then defeated that grave that we find ourselves barreling toward. Isn't this the best news of all?
In John 18:11 Jesus reminds Peter of the Father's Will, and goes on to heal the servant. Oh, how He puts our broken messes together again, yet He always restores them better than the way we left them. There is never hurt without reason, and there is never brokenness without cause. When we rebel, and turn to our sinful desires, it is because we are trying to fill a gap that only Christ can fill. When we react strongly, defensively, it is because we have been hurt. The same is true when we seclude ourselves to find refuge from an uncaring world. Friend, go to the cross, because your struggle has been defeated there with the very blood that stains the beams. Christian, sweet brother or sister of mine... please listen to the struggles of this world. When we see the rebellious, let us not judge, but remember that "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) While we were in rebellion. Remember when someone reacts unlovingly against you, it is not you they are sinning against. Love them in spite of themselves, and listen to their hurt. When someone tries to exclude the world, show them that you are nothing like the world. Imitate your Master, and ask Him to help you "never leave them or forsake them". We are walking examples of the love of the cross, and that cross was stained by the blood of One who not only listened to and inherently knew the problems of this world, but took them upon Himself. While we are not called to take another's sin upon ourselves because that is for Christ alone to do, the least we can do for Him is to imitate His love, set aside our prideful nature, and listen.