Monday, March 26, 2012

Seeing and Listening

Spirit & Truth # 266
“Seeing and Listening”

By Greg Smith

            In her blog, “Seeing, Creating, and Being,” Elizabeth Watts writes:

            Have you ever thought about the difference between ’seeing’ and ‘looking’?  For me, seeing is active; looking is passive. Looking is like showing up, punching the clock, not necessarily engaging. Remember the scene in the hysterically funny National Lampoon Vacation movie where Chevy Chase schleps his family to the Grand Canyon for an ill fated summer vacation? After an arduous journey, they arrive at the edge of the canyon, get out of the car and look out over the view for 7 seconds at most, jump back in the car, done—they’ve looked at the Grand Canyon. He did not however, engage with, or experience the Grand Canyon.
            Seeing speaks to understanding, illumination, discernment, and wisdom—seeing past stereotypes, cliches and preconceptions. Do you see?  To ’see’ is to look past the obvious, the expected; to take the time, to pay attention.[1]
            Seeing goes beyond just getting a look at something.  Listening is more than hearing.  In John 12:20-36 Jesus illustrates that some people are more lookers than seers, and some are more hearers than listeners.

            In verse 21 (NIV), some Greeks approach the disciples, saying, “We would like to see Jesus.”  The Master’s lack of response is perplexing.  People are looking for Him, and He just ignores them.  Nowhere does it say that He granted these seekers an audience.  The Gospel never records Jesus as ever speaking to them.  He simply goes on talking in riddles (a trick which He elsewhere explains is designed not to clarify a point but to keep in the dark those people who weren’t sincerely listening with their hearts tuned in to God[2]).

            In verses 27-29, God’s voice booms out of the heavens.  Some recognize God’s voice, but others just hear it as thunder or suggest that an angel has spoken to Jesus.  Clearly it makes a difference whether you have “ears to hear”[3] what God is saying.  In fact, Jesus says that the voice wasn’t meant for Him at all.  “Jesus said, ‘This voice was for your benefit, not mine (verse 30, NIV).’”

            God is continually trying to reveal His Son, Jesus.  The problem is that most people don’t really want to see Jesus; they just want to come to church and get a look at Him.  God is always speaking.  The trouble is that when most people hear God’s voice, and aren’t really listening.  It’s all for your benefit—so God can show you your own sin, drive Satan out of your life, save you and then use you to draw all people to Him (verses 31-32).  The question is whether you’re tuned in to see Him and listen to His voice.

            You’ve got to listen up now.  Verse 36 (NIV) says, “When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.”  God is always speaking to you—with one exception: when He can tell you’re not really listening.  Then He makes His Word scarce—to create a hunger within your heart to hear from Him again, and a desire to see with fresh vision what you’ve been missing for so long.  Isaiah 55:6 (NIV) implores you to “seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.”  Don’t just be a looker—be a seer.  Don’t just hear the Word—listen to His voice.

[3] Mark 4:23; Luke 8:8

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