Are you listening to me Christian?
I have now been teaching college students for over twenty years. One of the greatest challenges of teaching is keeping the attention of the students. My subject may always be important to me, the teacher, but I have learned that my passion for the material is not always found in my listeners. Yes, even when what is being shared comes from a biblical source, we all struggle and strain at times to stay alert and engaged.
My father told me once that he thought that nothing short of balancing an elephant on a golf ball would keep people listening.
So, as a teacher on days when I sense a disengagement, a glassing over of the corneas, a fogginess of focus, I have not infrequently resorted to more direct tactics of communication.
“Are you listening to me Christian?” Those were the words that I fairly shouted at my semi-somnambulant protégés on one particular morning. They snapped to attention.
“Good!” I thought. “Sometimes you need to state the obvious.”
Later I learned that one young student wondered who “Christian” was and why was he not giving heed to what I was teaching!
“Are you listening to me Christian?”
Jesus did not hesitate to employ that same tactic. In fact, I find myself in good company when it comes to my own struggle for focus.
While I was reading in the Gospels recently, I came to those familiar words that he said so often, “He who has ears, let him hear.” Was Jesus frustrated with his followers? When it comes to hearing God, a deeper meaning can certainly be adduced by spending time in Isaiah 6 as all of the Gospel writers do. However here it seems that Jesus was indicating that they simply needed to pay attention.
No less than 8 times, Jesus spoke those same words to his disciples in the four Gospels.
And there is more. On 7 occasions he said something very similar to Christians living in western Turkey in Revelation 2-3. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Fifteen times Jesus states the obvious as a preamble or a suffix to something of significance.
As I consider my hearing posture before the Lord, I find myself listening to the words of the boy Samuel, who when instructed by his mentor Eli, responded to the Lord by saying “Speak Lord, for your servant hears.”
And so tomorrow morning, when I take down my study Bible and open it once more, may my ears be open to what he is teaching me. Yes, Lord I am listening.