As part of being story formed people, and living amongst people who are formed by other stories, its important for us to be a listening people as well. Let’s continue with the second Rhythm in our series on Gospel Rhythms continued from the Soma School.
We submit to God through consistent backward and forward listening
Jesus listened to God in prayer to know his Father’s will. We listen to God because through the Gospel we are now aware of our ongoing need for Him. We listen ‘backward’ by regularly interacting with God’s Word–the Story and the Son. We also listen ‘forward’ to hear what God is saying to us today. We believe He declares to all people what He is like through His creation and specifically speaks to those who belong to Him through His Spirit. (Mark 1:35-37; John 16:7-15; Hebrews 1:1-3; Romans 1:20)
Everyone is listening to someone or something as the primary voice or voices that they submit their lives to – an expert or teacher that they follow. These might include a school of thought, a leader or charismatic personality, demons, or lies from the past. Until the Creator is THE Expert and THE Teacher to whom they compare all other voices, they are prone to deceit and lies and worship of self or others. As Believers, I think we need to be better listeners before we become talkers, or as the Psalmist states: When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. – Prov 10:19 (NIV).
So what does this mean for our three values: Upward (me and God), Inward (me and God’s people), outward (me and kingdom reconciliation)
The gospel reminds us that we are fully dependent upon God’s Spirit to teach us the truth, convict of sin, and show us the way to go and empower us to do everything God wants. So, we must walk in submission to the Spirit if we are going to live as God intends.
Pay attention to what you say to yourself. C.J. Mahaney states in his book, Living the Cross Centered Life, that when listening to ourselves, we should speak the gospel to ourselves. In order to regularly realign ourselves to the truth of the gospel, we need to listen closely to what we say to ourselves and compare that to the gospel and our gospel identity. Where what we are hearing doesn’t match up to the gospel, we should preach the gospel again to ourselves (2 Peter 1:9). Ask the Spirit:
- Where is my self-talk out of line with the truth of the Gospel?
We need to listen to each other carefully to discern where they are not yet gripped by the gospel, paying careful attention to whether their story is about them and dependent on something other than God. Listen for the fruit of the Spirit and the works of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16-24)
The people in our community are telling us what they believe and why. We need to ask questions and listen. If we are to be prepared to give an answer for the hope we have, we must spend less time just preparing answers and as much time listening for the questions. Listening to others first is prerequisite for gospel engagement. We should be listening constantly to know which story they believe in and where that story has proven weak and ineffective to save. (Acts 17:16-33)
I think the strongest voice people are listening to in our culture is that of Consumerism. Alan Hirsch has an excellent analysis of this:
What are some next steps you and your community should take to grow in Gospel Listening?