SHUT UP AND LISTEN!
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” James 1:19
I never used to like sushi. Putting raw fish in my mouth has never been appealing to me. But, they have these really good sushi rolls that are a whole other tasty experience. Try a Spicy Johnny or Lion King. Yum! I digress…
Last week, I was at a Saddleback Church Conference visiting in Southern California. My lifelong friend and I were sitting across the table eating sushi with two 20 something’s that both serve at two incredible Evangelical churches. We were talking about all sorts of things when I decided to go there. I asked them their thoughts about spirituality, homosexuality and morality.
I honestly wanted to hear what they had to say. As they began to give their perspective on the church and how we are missing it with our culture, I found myself just fascinated at their insights.
Both of them had relatives and friends that had come out declaring that they were gay. They both spoke with such grace and mercy towards these they called friends and family. It was interesting that they were able to accept them, yet they were able to hold the tension of what they believe what the Bible teaches.
Their perception is that the church is judgmental and hateful, and because the gay community perceives that and our culture has experienced it, hurting and lost people, who desperately need the love of Jesus, are being repelled.
I was taking this all in, when all of a sudden, like a hammer, my lifelong friend started defending the Bible. Now, everything he said was true, I wasn’t in disagreement; he made some really good points. But…it shut down the conversation.
I really wanted to hear what these twenty something’s had to say. Where are they coming from? How are they processing cultural issues while trying to stay true to what the Bible has to say?
The more my friend talked the quieter they got. Kind of like when my kids turned 12 years old and I was trying to lecture them about something only to realize they were tuning me out.
We finished dinner and went back to my friend’s house and I could tell they still wanted to talk. We went out into the backyard and I continued to barrage them with questions and I encouraged my friend to be “quick to listen”. We have two ears and one mouth. Let’s hear what they have to say. Shut up and Listen. I loved it! And then it happened…
They asked me what I thought. They really wanted to hear my heart on these topics. I shared with them that every person matters to God. “Jesus came into the world not to condemn the world but to save it.” John 3:17
I told them of the time I was overseeing a National Youth Ministry and we were at our summer conference and myself and the President of our denomination were walking across the college campus when a group came up to us and demanded, “What are you going to do about those kids T-Shirts over there? We demand that they change their shirts, it is so wrong.”” I looked over at these supposedly disgusting shirts and it said, “Play CO-Ed naked volleyball.”
Before I could say anything, the President of our denomination blurted out, “Change the heart, you’ll change the shirt.”(Now, of course we don’t change anyone’s heart only the good news of Jesus does.)
I shared with these twenty something’s, “That’s the approach I believe the church should take.” The gospel really is good news and Romans 1:16,17 says, “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”
Change the heart, by the good news that every person matters to God, and everything will change in a person’s life. Jesus died for every single person on this planet. He gave his life for gossipers, adulterers, robbers, people who eat too much, prideful people, lustful people, Jesus cares and loves everyone. It’s called grace. It’s not what we do, it’s what Christ has done to get us into a right relationship with God.
They totally accepted what I had to share and we had an amazing 4 hour conversation together.
So…with that said, you that are forty something’s and older…Shut up and listen. This twenty and thirty something generation has incredible insights and grace like I have never seen. We need to hear from them and when we do, they in turn actually want to hear what we have to say.
And you that are twenty’s and thirty’s, the forty something’s and above really do have amazing insights as well. Take some time to hear us and don’t just think you already know what we are going to say.
There are a lot of issues facing us today. Let’s take time to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. And for us that are quick to jump in and cut off communication with our opinions, I say this with all that is within me, “Shut up and Listen.” You might learn a thing or two that just might help build a bridge to understanding and bring unity in our community’s, churches and in our nation.