Hey, are you listening? To who?

Joshua Bell is one of the greatest violinist’s in the world. As an experiment by The Washington Post he anonymously played his violin, valued at $3.5 million dollars, for about 45 minutes in the cold at the Washington, DC metro station during rush hour.  MIstaken for  a street musician he collected $32.17 in support.   Thousands of people passed by while this famous musician played six classical pieces, including Bach.  Only 7 people stopped to listen.  Two nights before he had played a sold out crowd at Boston’s Symphony Hall.  Seats averaged $100. But this day few heard him.

Many would argue that we, generically speaking, do not listen well.  Perhaps the aforementioned story testifies to that point. I read another story recently about one man who said he always day dreams in church regardless of the competence or skill of the preacher.  He just doesn’t listen in church.  And we know kids don’t listen well to their parents and parents often don’t listen well to their kids (or one another for that matter.)  None of us probably need to be sold on the fact that we are often very poor listeners.  Which is why my contention, that we really are good listeners, might catch some off-guard.  Think about it.

Apple has sold over 350 million iPods helping those of us who exercise to do so while listening to our favorite music. Others listen to NPR or music in their cars or office.  The average person listens to the television set about 5 hours a day.  Then there are the politicians discussing the fiscal cliff and other matters of our country – many listen to FOX or CNN based on who we think gives us the best information. We also listen to our peers, the people we hang out with.  And most of the time we are listening to ourselves.  Hopefully you get the point – we really are listening.  So the better question might be who we are listening to and why?

Having given this some thought I find that it is not such a difficult question to answer.  Perhaps you will agree with my stroke of genius. Generically speaking, we listen to things we enjoy hearing; music, television, movies, radio, our friends or co-workers who agree with us and our beliefs.   Said another way:

We CHOOSE who we will listen to based on what we WANT to hear.  

Like I said, I’m a genius. But perhaps, if you are like me, it will make you think about this a bit further because it implies the opposite is also true.

We do not listen to people who have something to say that we do not want to hear – whether it is right or not.  

This can be our parents, kids, church leaders, supervisors, employees, politicians, musicians, Hollywood or even our doctor.  That is why many people don’t like getting on a bathroom scale – because it tells them their true weight and they don’t want to “hear” it.  Others of us avoid the doctor for the same reason, the truth might not be what we WANT to hear.  While writing this blog I was listening to Dr. Colbert, author of the book, “You Can Do This Diet.”  He was telling us how to get in better shape.  And most of us already know the secret; consistent exercise, moderation on food intake with emphasis on fruits and vegetables with less fat and sugar.  You know, get off the sofa and eat less calories than you burn.  But still, our obesity rate is going through the roof as our health deteriorates!  Why?  Because we like the taste of food and our sofa’s are more comfortable than exercise.  We know what to do, we just don’t want to hear it!!!!  But here is the problem and the wake up call with this stinkin’ thinkin’:

Our kids are killing kids at an alarming rate while our hero’s are falling from grace just as fast.

It’s time to remember that listening to those who say what we want to hear eventually catches up to us – all of us.  But like you cannot continue eating whatever you want and stay “physically” fit, you cannot spend whatever you want and stay “fiscally” fit, you cannot do whatever you want and stay “morally” fit, nor can you believe whatever you want and stay “spiritually” fit.  We can debate issues like same sex marriage and legalization of marijuana as the new normal but the fact that more and more kids (young adults) are using assault weapons to shoot other kids should give us all cause to pause.  Why is this happening?

Because many of us are choosing to listen to the wrong people, information, and wisdom.  

We need to return to the Bible most have dismissed.  The one that says about itself:  Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105).  While much of the reality of life is awful, God is still good, loving, and in control.  But He tells us we are either blessed if we follow and obey Him or cursed if we trust in man:

5This is what the Lord says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. 6He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. 7“But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. 8He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:5-8).

 Sure, we can dismiss this just the way we do the information about good health, but it’s not going to change the truth about it.  That leaves me with a question:

Who are you listening to and why?  

Join me this new year listening to the truth – God’s truth via His word, The Bible.  That is where He speaks.  And all of us need to listen better – to Him.

1.  http://bloomblogrob.blogspot.com/2009/12/how-well-do-we-listen.html & http://www.snopes.com/music/artists/bell.asp

2. John Hagge show.  December 30, 2012, 11-11:30 am.  FOX television.

Thomas Wheeler