The Christian life is crafted by listening. We can’t save ourselves. We can’t change our hearts. We can’t turn the corner of obedience by will-power. We can’t please God with our flesh. We need something from outside of us. We will never arrive at the right way to live by our own instincts. We must listen to live and we must listen to obey, and that is harder than it sounds.
When Paul took his ministry to the Gentiles he found success because of their willingness to listen. Luke writes at the end of his second book, in Acts 28:28, “Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”
When the author of Hebrews labors to push his audience towards Christ he urges them to listen - to not harden their hearts or close their ears (Heb. 3-4). He encourages us to exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today”, that none may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Heb. 3:13). Using Israel in the desert as his example he says, “For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.” (Heb. 3:2)
The Holy Spirit says in Psalm 81:11, “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me.”
We see in the opening pages of the Bible that God never creates without speaking. Over and over again as creation unfolds, we see “God said” flash like lightening on the page. His way of creating is by speaking. If it was so in the beginning, it is so now. As the original creation was born out of the word of God, so then is the new creation born out of the Word of God.
But we don’t attend God as we would a concert. We don’t go to see him like an amusement or an attraction. We submit to him as Lord or we ignore him altogether. Given enough time, if you don’t submit, you will be pushed away because he doesn’t say easy things in easy ways for half-hearted people. He says glorious things, and frighteningly wonderful things, and life-giving reassuring things to those who love him. But he is nothing but a threat to those who want to treat him as an optional add-on.
You are probably sick of yourself and you probably want to change a thousand things. And each year when the calendar turns over a new year you sit down and tell yourself all the ways you will recreate yourself in the next 365 days. And then January 2 comes and you’ve already failed. But what if there was a word, that if listened to, had the power to actually change you? There is, and his name is Jesus. The Christian life is crafted by listening. And he’s speaking all the time. The question is, are we listening?