Thursday, March 24, 2016

Take Care How You Listen: Admit God Knows Better

In Luke 11 Jesus is dining at the house of a Pharisee (cf. v. 37ff). When His host expresses surprise that He did not go through the ceremonial washing before the meal, Jesus begins to preach. He condemns the Pharisees for their outward religious displays while they neglect the heart of the Law. As He is speaking, a lawyer, one who studied and taught the Law of Moses, interrupts and says, "Master, thus saying thou reproachest us also" (v. 45). Jesus's words offended him and made him uncomfortable. That's what biblical preaching does.

Unfortunately, we don't come to the Bible as blank slates. We come scribbled upon with philosophies, politics, and preconceptions, the results of our culture, the media, our upbringing, our experiences, and the like. As the preacher opens the Bible and faithfully proclaims the Word of God, your philosophies, politics, and preconceptions will be challenged. It may very well hurt, as the Bible pierces "even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow" (Hebrews 4:12).

In that moment you have to make a decision. You can ignore what God has said—perhaps explaining it away in light of political correctness or justifying yourself in your circumstances—or you can admit that God—infinite, holy, and good—knows better than you and, through the power of His Spirit, humble yourself before His Word. 
After this Sunday:
  • Ask yourself if this week's sermon challenged your beliefs or lifestyle.
  • Ask yourself if the Bible passage the preacher spoke from clearly confront those beliefs or activities.
  • Pray that the Spirit of God would enable you to submit to what the Bible clearly teaches and would help to change your heart, mind, and life.
*This material is based loosely on Listen Up! A Practical Guide to Listening to Sermons by Christopher Ash.

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