Listen To Respond

By in Devotions

For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14

Insight

Knowledge is more than what we know in our heads.  It is more than a compilation of facts.  Knowledge is also an experience.  As we come to know more about the character of God, we also experience the joy of His love for us.  It is personal, intimate and life-giving.  In the same way, knowledge transcends the abstract of ideas to the actual, lived experience of the heart.

Generally speaking, the more we know about someone, the more likely we will love them.  I have heard it said there isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you’ve heard their story.

In our digital age, we have more information at our fingertips than any other time in history.  As we watch our televisions or scroll through the news, we learn about the pressing issues of the day and we gain knowledge about the ins and outs of them.  It seems like everywhere we turn, we have people telling us how we should think or feel about things.  We may believe that we are free thinking beings; slowly but surely, however, we end up seeing people (and groups of people) as soundbites.  People are more than issues and soundbites.  Solely depending on FOX, CNN, newspapers or talk radio to form opinions about things does humanity a great disservice and prevents us from truly loving “the other.”

“Love your neighbor as yourself” Jesus tells us.  Human relationships are powerful.  They are powerful because through our interactions with another, we begin to see the world a little differently.  Relationships allow us to experience a kind of knowledge that facts never can.  The more we come to know people and the more we take the time to listen to their stories and learn from their experiences, the more we will begin to see the “issues” with empathetic eyes.

Issues are really just people.  At a time in our culture when groups of people seem really angry at each other,  I think it’s important to remember that the things that pull us apart are not greater than the things than bind us together.

Listening is a simple and practical way that we can love our neighbors.  As we navigate the issues of our day, it is crucial to form relationships and  listen to people who have a different perspective than our own.  Otherwise, we end up validating our feelings as we surround ourselves with people who think and feel just like we do.  Anne Lamott says, “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”

Culture teaches us that we are the center of the world but God teaches us that we are part of a body and this body is part of a larger community.  Like it or not, we are connected to each other.  Love compels us to grow and stretch and be willing to see the world and people in new ways while fear wants us to remain exactly as we are.  Fear wants us to stay unchallenged and comfortable.  Fear wants to keep us suspicious of people.  Fear wants us to shun those who are different than us.  Fear desires us to be judgmental and condemning.   Fear wants to keep us isolated and segregated.  But fear is the opposite of love.

Love longs for us to ‘listen to learn’ not ‘listen to respond.’  Love cares for us too much to let us stay exactly as we are.  Love asks us to love others even when we don’t understand them.  Love’s desire is not to keep us comfortable but to conform us into the image of His son.

Reflection

  • Is there a particular group of people that you find yourself easily condemning?  If so, confess your sin and ask God to forgive you.  Ask Him to help you see them with new eyes.  Be brave and strike up a relationship with someone that you know is different than you.

Prayer

Father, thank you that You are love.  Thank you for loving me unconditionally.  Help me to love others in the same way.  Help me to seek peace with those I disagree with instead of judging or condemning them.  Help me to walk in a manner worthy of the calling You have for me.  In Jesus name, Amen.  

PC3 writer Gina Fimbel wrote today’s devotional.