God told Isaiah that even if he did preach the Word as he was instructed to do so, no one would listen. (Isaiah 6:8-10)
In the beginning of his ministry Ezekiel had no serious listeners and even after his oracles concerning the fall of Jerusalem came true and his notoriety increased, the listeners were willing to listen, but were still not obedient. (Ezekiel 33:30-33) God told Jeremiah “When you tell them all this, they will not listen to you.” (Jeremiah 7:27)
Jesus said, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” He didn’t say, “but only if they listen.”
‘Listening to others,’ or ‘being a good listener,’ is a popular notion amongst the ‘enlightened’ now, but it is also firmly rooted biblical concept, i.e., James 1:19, but you cannot automatically expect others that live under different covenants to want to listen to what you have to say, even if you consider it ‘good news.’ When it comes to the sharing the gospel, is listening to others until they listen to you a good strategy?
I recently heard from a 13 year old girl who was burdened because she was trying to bring God’s message of hope to her family and community and no one would listen. She felt like she was doing something wrong. She didn’t understand why. As you can imagine, the message of the gospel really was good news to her and she wanted others to hear it. With the rejection of her message came perceived rejection of her as well. I think a lot of us who are much more mature feel the same way when we try to convey the hope within us (1 Peter 3:15), and it’s rejected or completely ignored. I also think that this is one of the chief reasons that believers don’t disciple others.
Of course, if folks don’t want to listen because your life is contrary to your words, your agenda is more discernible than your care, or your tone is abrasive, then it’s on you; but what if you’re ‘doing everything right,’ and they still don’t want to listen?
1. What advice would you give to anyone who felt they were “doing something wrong,” because no one was listening?
2. How can you tell if people aren’t listening to God’s gospel or are just not listening to your version of it?
3. If people don’t want to listen to the Gospel, are you obligated to ‘give it to them’ anyway?
One of the ways we create listening environments in the Cloud Forest Region of Ecuador is by meeting the simplest of needs. Each year during the holidays, we identify isolated and impoverished families and give them enough food to last about a week. Then we go back at the beginning of the next year and build genuine relationships with them. We call it our Christmas Basket Project, and we’ve gotten tons of food to the people who needed it most. If you’d like to help with this year’s endeavor, click here for more information.