Last week I came across these words from Dietrich Bonhoeffer that I saved several years ago,
“The first service one owes to others in the community involves listening to them. Many people seek a sympathetic ear and do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking when they should be listening. But Christians who can no longer listen to one another will soon no longer be listening to God either; they will always be talking even in the presence of God.
The death of the spiritual life starts here, and in the end there is nothing left but the empty spiritual chatter and clerical condescension which chokes on pious words. Those who cannot listen long and patiently will always be talking past others, and finally no longer will even notice it. Those who think their time is too precious to spend listening will never really have time for God and others, but only for themselves and for their own words and plans.” (Life Together, p 98)
I am not sure but these are the strongest words I have read on the duty of listening to one another.
Do you think Bonhoeffer is right about how listening to others relates to our listening to God?
Do you think you have been in settings with other Christians and the air was full of “empty spiritual chatter and clerical condescension?”
But, rather than dwelling on just the negative side of Bonhoeffer’s remarks, can you think of times your Christian brothers and sisters have taken the time to listen to you?
What did it do for you? Do you think it opens the door to your sense of being heard by God also?
How many times will you have the opportunity to listen today? … tomorrow? … this week?