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Why we bother listening

I was famous in my family for having said, as a small boy, on an Edinburgh bus – ‘Mummy – no one ever smiles!’ Well I used that city’s buses during my attendance at the General Assembly. Certainly, they were frequent, clean and convenient but still no one smiled. Indeed most were buried in the digital technology of mobile phones, tablets and e-readers. It was as if the world around them did not exist.


Of course, that isn’t just the outlook of passengers on our capital’s charabancs, it is more and more the feeling we get wherever we venture in Britain today. The electronic companion half way across the globe is now more important to many than the person next to them. Simply, everyone is talking and texting and typing but no one is really listening!


Now, Jesus was a good listener. He listened and heard the woman at the well with a dubious past. He listened and heard the Roman NCO desperate on behalf of his ailing servant. He listened and heard the grief of sisters and a mother. And in each be brought wisdom, comfort and healing.


Maybe then this is a good ‘new month’ resolution and it is to listen. I know it takes the hard work of concentration and self-discipline. But it is one way we can really show we care; one way that we really do show we follow Jesus and one way to show that God is actually present. For in godly listening we hear His word, gain His ear and enjoy His smile.


Or as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the great German theologian who opposed the Nazis, once wrote:

The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them.

Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them.

It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His Word but also lends us His ear.



Good Summer,

Good listening,

Good following.