FAITH: Listening is more than just hearing
‘And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. ‘ Luke 8:4-15 ESV
One of the phrases I speak often to my children is, “listen!” In my assessment, it is important for our kids to not just hear what we say or ask, but to listen. I often tell our youngest what we told his big sister, “we need you to listen to us in minor things, so you will listen to us in major things!” One of our great hopes as parents is for our kids to continue to listen to us, especially when there are numerous other voices vying for their attention.
Jesus closed His teaching of the parable of the sower with the phrase, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” This is what He said to the great crowds who were gathering to listen to His words of life! If His own disciples did not understand what the parable meant, it is safe to assume the crowds listening did not understand either. Yet, Jesus tells the crowds, if you have ears listen to me, I am not hiding anything! What we find out in the explanation is the seed represents the Word of God. Jesus is inviting the crowds to listen to the Word of the Lord! He invites us to do the same today!
Have you ever thought about what kind of soil you are? The condition of the soil of your life has a significant impact on your receptivity of the truth of God’s word. The positive truth we hear from Jesus is when we are intentionally listening, hearing God’s Word for it’s life changing truth, the soil of our life is good and rich, ready to receive the seed so we can grow and be fruitful. Some would translate this passage to mean only some are chosen to be good soil, while everyone else is chosen to be soil never able to be transformed by truth. I do not agree with this translation, but believe because of Christ’s blood and love, all people have the chance and the opportunity for the Holy Farmer to cultivate our lives into something beautiful, something good! Friends, God is willing to do in you as much as you are willing to let him do!
I want to close by offering an apology. This week I received an unsigned and no return address note from a reader who informed me I had offended and hurt them by something I wrote in one of these weekly columns. It has grieved me, as it does now, in the few times in my life when I have received similar notes because the writer, by staying anonymous, has not allowed me to address the offense and ask for forgiveness. This format is unique and in hoping the offended reader will read this week, I offer my sincerest apology for any hurt or distress any of my writings may have caused and ask you to forgive me. I’m not even sure what offended you in particular, but I receive your admonishment to double check everything I write. In the several years of presenting this weekly chat, I have wanted nothing more than to give glory and attention to Jesus Christ while encouraging those who read to find a deeper walk with the Lord. For you the offended reader, I am sorry I have not been able to accomplish this desire with you.
For anyone else reading, feel free to contact me with any questions, encouragements, and corrections you feel are appropriate and I will gladly respond. You are Valued and Loved, Pastor Brad
Rev. Brad McKenzie is Lead Pastor at Orange First Church of the Nazarene, 3810 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Orange.