Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 92; 149, Ezekiel 3:4-17, Hebrews 5:7-14, Luke 9:37-50
Have you ever left a discussion or disagreement and felt it was more like two parallel monologues? One where you talked over instead of with each other? Today’s social and political climate seems to have moved us past conversation, past persuasion, past argument, and right into word avalanches meant to bury anyone who disagrees with us. Sometimes it really does seem like we might not be speaking the same language From dog-whistles (coded language meant to signal and incite people within our social tribe against another one) on the right to virtue signaling (speaking more to reinforce moral superiority among our peers than to facilitate conversation) on the left, we speak primarily to hear ourselves talk and have our views reflected and amplified back to us. Language becomes a barrier instead of a bridge.
Before sending the prophet Ezekiel to warn the people of Israel, God basically told him, “I’m sending you to people who should understand exactly what you are saying. Not people speaking a different language, but people from your own tribe. Guess what? They’re going to ignore you because they have hard and stubborn hearts.”
Hard and stubborn hearts cut both ways. They render us effectively deaf to those we don’t want to hear – even when they speak important truths. And when we are speaking, our own hard and stubborn hearts use words to pummel, punish, and shame … and when has anyone responded favorably to that?
When we speak from a grace-filled place, our words will be easy for people to hear. Of course whether they choose to listen is beyond our control, but we have a choice to make: create an impenetrable wall of sound or create an opportunity to harmonize? If we are hurt, angry, or scared the wall option is attractive, and feels good … for a while. But sealed away we will simply fester in the pain and fear. Harmony – reconciliation – requires us to speak plainly and honestly, and to listen the same way.
Communication is more than words: it requires intent, effort, vulnerability, and trust. Let’s try asking ourselves: “What would Jesus say?”
Comfort: New information changes our understanding; truth remains the same.
Challenge: Question your assumptions about other people’s words.
Prayer: Lord, may I seek more to understand than to be understood. Amen.
Discussion: What triggers you to stop listening to someone?
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