At Immanuel First, our mission is to "share God's love, comfort and hope with all." I know that I frequently encourage our congregation to actively share the message with others. However, the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer suggests an alternate way to share God's love, comfort and hope. What about showing love by listening?
"The first service one owes to others in the community involves listening to them. Just as our love for God begins with listening to God's Word, the beginning of love for other Christians is learning to listen to them. ... We do God's work for our brothers and sisters when we learn to listen to them. So often Christians, especially preachers, think that their only service is to always have to 'offer' something when they are together with other people. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking. Many people seek a sympathetic ear and do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking even when they should be listening. But Christians who can no longer listen to one another will soon no longer be listening to God either. they will always be talking even in the presence of God." (--D. Bonhoeffer)
Love by listening. What a novel thought! When you listen, you are saying to the speaker...
- I value what you say.
- You are important to me.
- I care about you.
As Christians we do this because...
- God values us.
- We are important to God...
- ...and God cares about us.
One last thing about listening... listening is more than just hearing and nodding you head. The goal is "communication." The goal is "relationship." There is a technique called Active Listening. It requires you to periodically repeat key points of what the speaker says. In doing so, you confirm that you have received the communication.
It is amazing to learn how many people CRAVE to be listened to. I think the same is of God. I believe there are 145,000 people within three miles of us who CRAVE to be listened to, by God. Be that witness. Be that liaison with God. Love by listening. Sharing God's love, comfort and hope... by listening. Listen to someone today! Amen.