Listening
Posted on March 16, 2014

Throughout much of the gospel of Mark, Jesus will perform a miracle and then say to the recipient of the blessing: “Be sure to tell no one what was done for you.” Why do you think He did that? It would seem that Jesus would want people to tell others of his healing power. Instead, He frequently does just the opposite. Why?

Think of the time when Jesus, Peter, James, and John were on the Mount of the Transfiguration. Suddenly, the story says, Moses and Elijah appeared. They were present, not just in memory or quotes, but in some discernible way. It was obviously a monumental moment in the lives of those who were gathered in that place. Peter didn’t even want to go back down the mountain and said: “Lord, do you want me to build tents that we may remain here?” I can understand his enthusiasm. Who wouldn’t have felt that way if you suddenly discovered what appeared to be a portal to Heaven itself? But, do you remember what else happened? God’s voice spoke. Peter, James, and John heard it. And what did God say? “This is My Son. Listen to Him!”

God sent The Messiah to earth to share Truth with us, to tell us what life means and what love is about and what brings joy, hope, and meaning. God sent Jesus to teach us all those lessons. And Jesus knew that for us to learn, we have to be willing to listen. That’s the key word from the moment on the mountain. “Listen.” He also knew that if his ministry were turned into a traveling miracle show, then people would not listen. Instead, they would come in droves bringing their sick and lame and blind, begging for yet another miracle. Or, they would crowd the streets to watch, seeking entertainment, much like we might go to a performance by David Copperfield, Chris Angell, or David Blaine. So, Jesus would frequently heal someone or perform some other sort of miracle, and then would say: “Tell no one.” “Tell no one.” Why? Because He wanted people not simply to clamor for miracles or entertainment, but rather to listen for Truth.

That is how we should ultimately come to Faith – to the Bible, to Christian theology, to corporate confessions and belief systems, to conversations about Religion, and even often to prayer. We come seeking (or listening for) Truth. That’s why we are called people of “Faith” rather than people of “fact.” Facts are limiting. They build parameters around issues, whereas no parameters can ever be built around God (or even our perception of God). If we limit ourselves to a search for data or information, we reduce ourselves to people of fact. If we endeavor to find Truth (deep meanings and abiding principles that provide insight to and guidance for life), then we are people of Faith. And Faith is not limiting. Instead, it draws us toward that which is more expansive that even our imaginations can conceive.

“Listen.” In prayer, in worship, in study, in meditation, in conversation with other believers – “Listen.” And do not listen for facts or proofs. To do so always results in missing what is ultimately relevant, and that is Truth. What are the deep Truths about life that can make it livable and meaningful? We cannot reduce those topics (like love or loyalty or joy or sacrifice or hope) to data that can be historically verified or viewed beneath a microscope. Those topics are larger than mere data. They are time-transcending Truths, as is God. And so we listen for Truth, as the disciples were advised on the mountain, knowing (as Jesus put it), that when we begin to immerse ourselves in the expansive realities of Truth, “the truth shall set us free” from all the lesser fears, debates, or worries that are inherently limiting.

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