Silence

 

“Remember, before you speak, it is necessary to listen,” Mother Theresa

Tape Face

Arguments. Gossip. Hostility. Name-calling. Contempt. All this occurs in an atmosphere of wanting to be right, of not listening, of refusing to be slow enough to speak in order that we hear and learn. This kind of talking does nothing but stroke our own ego.

He then called the crowd together and said, “Listen, and take this to heart. It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life, but what you vomit up.” (Matthew 15:11)

How can we, in a climate of division and mistrust, practice the skill of taking a step back in order to arrive at a willingness to listen? And not just listen to form a reply, but listen with the intent of understanding.

This kind of listening accomplishes several things.

  1. It helps us widen our own narrow perception of reality
  2. It helps us form relationships
  3. It helps us understand the experiences, history and hurts of other people
  4. If we are Christians, it helps unify us with our brothers and sisters in Christ
  5. It allows us to hear the voice of God through the Holy Spirit

Of course, we must desire to step back from anger, practice thinking before speaking, prefer to find common ground, and aspire to approach people with openness and compassion. If we don’t, then we simply choose to reject, condemn and despise.

As we stay silent and think – seriously consider our words before we speak, weigh the consequences of our words on others, take time to evaluate the words of others, and reflect on how words that float on social media have an effect on you and the children you know – we begin to form conclusions driven by more than our momentary and sometimes incendiary reactions to an event.

We are able to respond in a way that includes listening to understand.

So faith comes from hearing the message, and the message heard is what Christ spoke. (Romans 10:17)

We are able and willing to widen our perspective to see another point of view. We are able and willing to have compassion for the experiences of people unlike ourselves. We are able and willing to seek common ground and thus solutions, instead of blame. We are able and willing to find unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ. And finally, we are able and willing to hear the blessing of God’s voice.

“In silence we will find new energy and true unity. Unity is the fruit of prayer, of humility, of love…We cannot find God in noise or agitation… In silence He listens to us; in silence He speaks to our souls. In silence we are granted the privilege of listening to His voice.” Mother Teresa

 

Mother Teresa quotes from No Greater Love, ©1997, New World Library, MJF Books, NY, NY

The Cost

Never look down on someone unless you’re helping them up.
Never look down on someone unless you’re helping them up.

What is the cost to us of being redeemed by Christ?

Have you ever wondered what we owe to God?

Well, the true answer is nothing. There is no debt to repay. No obligation or encumbrance upon us.

Yet the closer we come to God, the more vulnerable and intimate we become in our relationship with Him, the more we surrender to the Holy Spirit, the more we delight in taking up the mission of living our lives for Christ.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)

What does this mean exactly?

Eugene Peterson in The Message expresses it this way (emphasis mine):

So here’s what I want you to do [with] God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

So breaking it down even further, what does being a living sacrifice mean to you and me?

The closer we come to God, the more vulnerable and intimate we become in our relationship with Him, the more we surrender to the Holy Spirit, the more we delight in taking up the mission of living our lives for Christ.

And to go back to the question, what is the cost if we choose to pay it? What is it God wants for (not from) us if we allow Him full and complete access to our hearts and minds? The cost is living in continuous renewal and transformation of our hearts and minds. If we allow God full and complete access, we receive the unrestrained love He bestows freely and unequivocally.

For some of us, this extravagant love is difficult to receive,

which is why it is so difficult to give.

Yet this is the Gospel. It is the cost of following Jesus.

I never look at the masses as my responsibility. I look at the individual. I can love only one person at a time. I can feed only one person at a time. Just one; one; one. You get closer to Christ by coming closer to each other. Mother Teresa.