Summary: When our ears are opened to the thngs that Christ heard, we are enabled to come to complete trust and fatih in God.
The Ears of Christ
March 26, 2006
I am not a great fan of Dr. James Dobson because I have some pretty significant differences of opinion with him about theology, biblical interpretation, and public policy. Yet he has done some very important work in the areas of family relationships and the raising of children.
Years ago, he put out a series of videos about raising children. We showed them when I was on the staff of Trinity Church in Huntington. I remember that at one point he was talking about the need for a parent to get a child’s attention so that the child is able to clearly understand instructions and expectations. He said that sometimes parents are just not clear about what they expect their children to do or about the consequences of misbehavior.
He talked about an incident with his own son, who was then in elementary school. There was an incident when his son was misbehaving, so Dobson took him aside and sat down with him. He very calmly and deliberately said, “Now I want your attention. I want you to look at me. I need you to listen to me very carefully. Are you looking at me? Are you listening to me?” When he was sure he had his son’s undivided attention, he could then give him instructions and lay out for him the expectations for his behavior.
But you know, it is not always children who need to listen to adults. Sometimes adults don’t always listen to children. One day when Christopher was still in elementary school, he was trying to tell me something. I was busy doing something else and not really paying attention to him. He jumped up on a footstool in the living room, grabbed my face between both hands, and said, “DAD, I need you to listen to me.”
We all want to be noticed, to be listened to, to have people pay attention to us. And as hard as it is when friends and neighbors ignore us, it is even harder when we believe that God is not listening or paying attention. Honestly, there are times when it feels like that.
People will often come to me and tell me things about their feelings: lonely, lost, afraid, confused, angry, exhausted, or grief-stricken. So many times I have encouraged these folks to read, meditate, and pray the Psalms. The Psalms were written by real people with real problems: people who had enemies, people who had made terrible mistakes and committed sins too numerous to mention, people who were in the depths of illness or despair, people who had lost sight of God in their lives, people who didn’t know how they were going to face the next day.
The authors of the Psalms wanted God to hear their plight, wanted God to listen, and wanted God to pay attention. That is when we get Psalms like the following.
• Give ear to my words, O Lord…5:1
• Hear, O Lord, my righteous plea; listen to my cry. Give ear to my prayer…17:1
• Listen to my prayer, O God…55:1
• Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer…61:1
• Hear me, O God, as I voice my complaint…64:1
• Hear us, Shepherd of Israel…80:1
• Hear my prayer, O Lord God Almighty; listen to me, O God of Jacob…84:8
• O God, whom I praise, do not remain silent…109:1
Maybe we come to the conclusion that God is indeed listening to us, but has decided, for whatever reason, to ignore our needs. Such feelings breed Psalms like the following.
• How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?...13:1
• My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night and am not silent…(22:1-2
• Lord, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God…38:21
Today is the fourth Sunday of Lent and we are going to focus on the ears of Christ; ears that are always open, ears that always listen, ears that despite our doubts or the doubts of some of the psalmists, are always attuned to the needs of God’s people. When you spend time in the Psalms, you quickly discover that despite momentary questions of God’s presence, the authors continued to nurture a deep faith that, even in tough times, God is still at hand.
Evidence of God’s continuing presence with us is seen in Christ’s ears. Let’s think about the ears of Christ for a minute. They were ears that heard many things. First of all, they were ears that always heard the cries of the people he met.