Union Ridge Church

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

by Reverend Dan on December 7, 2022
There’s been one change in communication during my 25 years of ministry that sticks out more than any other, and it has nothing to do with technology. People have lost the ability, or the interest, or the desire, or the something, to listen. They may hear what someone is saying (kind of), but they’re not really listening to what’s being said or trying to understand it. Used to be, people listened. They listened to learn. To understand. To take in all they could and think about it. Then they’d process the information and if they needed to or wanted to, they’d admit, “maybe I need to rethink this. That person might be right.” Not these days. Now people listen to respond and react immediately. In most cases, before someone is done talking and making their point, they are interrupted because the other person feels like what they have to say is more important. Or more correct. Rarely, if ever, is consideration given that the other person may actually have a valid point. All this undermines any hope of the things Christ taught. Unity. Forgiveness. Empathy. Compassion. Those things have all become the collateral damage of egos that can’t imagine they could ever be wrong. The ironic thing is that most people today make up their minds on a topic based on a few soundbites that grab their attention; or because they are members of something (this party or that party or this church or that denomination) and, well, you have to tow the party line. Then they’ll argue until the cows come home that theirs is the only way that things can be. And it’s all based on what some talking head said - someone that’s not even in the news or journalism field, but part of the entertainment industry. Reason – that thing that separates us from the animals – is for most folks a thing of the past.

Now we’ve all been that way at some point in our lives. If you don’t believe this, that you’ve never listened to learn - there’s one way to find out. Answer this question and you’ll know: Were you ever a teenager? If the answer is yes, you’ve done it. I remember one day I was out in the shop on our farm, and I was going to oil the chain on my bike. My dad was watching me, and he mentioned that there was probably a safer way than how I was doing it. But I was almost a man (you know, around 13 or 14), and that’s the time you realize you know everything about everything, and your parents are not as smart as you once thought they were. I knew what I was doing. I put the oil on the rag and wrapped it around the chain and held it with my hand and was about to turn the foot pedal to spin the chain and my dad said I might want to take the chain off before I oiled it because my way looked a little dangerous. Just crazy foolishness. Doing it that way would take time and I was a man in a hurry. So, I started to turn the pedal and it shot my hand into the gears and my knuckles got all scraped up and bloody. Huh. Maybe Dad had a point. Should have listened.

It may be funny when something like that happens (not at the moment, in retrospect), but the problem is we all grow up. And just like us, others have their own ideas and views. And sometimes, they’re not the same as ours. Sometimes they’re misinformed (that street can run both ways), but sometimes they’re actually right and we might learn something. We’re just too stubborn and prideful to listen and learn.

One thing I’ve come to realize is that if you want people to listen to you, it helps if you listen to them. That whole “do unto others” thing Jesus talked about. Maybe then, we’d all get along better and grow a little in the process because we’d open our minds – and our hearts. And even if we didn’t agree, we could agree to disagree and not continually have to listen to (or participate in) the hate and vitriol that’s spewed all day long.

I think Jesus would like that.​​​​​​​