Aloha Friday Message – September 23, 2016 – Listen Up!

1639AFC092316 – Listen up!

A blessed and wonderful Aloha Friday to you, Beloved! Let’s get right into this. Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you!

Luke 16:29 29 Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’

Romans 10:17 17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.

Ro10.17To many people in today’s world, the message, the life, the reality of Jesus is just another factoid, a myth, or just unimportant. “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.” But, it is True-with-a-capital-T true. And it does matter whether or not that Truth is heard. I do not want to step off here into speculations about “what if some family in the most remote village in some primitive country never hears The Word? Can they be saved?” For such derivative speculations I refer you to the Author of Life. He alone knows how all that works, and I am not about to mess with His plans. BUT it does matter for you, your friends and/or loved ones, as well as everyone who has heard The Word and rejected it as passé, or too incredible, or just not worth the time to pay attention.

“Oh, I believe there is a ‘Supreme Being’ and there is an ‘Intelligent Design,’ but as for all the rest of it, it doesn’t make sense.” (Here’s something similar to what you’ve seen in previous messages) “Organized Religion is just not my thing. I don’t need to be in some fancy building with a bunch of other hypocrites pretending to converse with someone or something I don’t understand and can’t relate to.” I get that a lot from my friends and family who are “Gen-Y through Millennials.” (See THIS LINK for some insights to that) Even many of us Boomers and our Gen-X (a/k/a “latchkey”) kids are remarkably indifferent to any form of religion or religiosity. “They are all the same, they all contain the same central truths, the same central philosophies based on equitable treatment of others, and none of them is particularly distinct from all the rest. That’s what the Dalai Lama says.” (That one always makes me SMH)

Ah, but there is one supremely different distinction this argument overlooks. The bulk of non-Christian religions are based on philosophical principles or speculations. Christianity is based not in speculation or philosophical principles, but in revelation, and is founded in the name of a Person. It is the Person of Christ that distinguishes Christianity form all other “belief systems.” It is Christ who is acknowledge and worshipped as Deity. This is not the case for other of the World’s Great Religions. Philosophy is not the beginning point of Christian theology; the starting point is the revelation of God through the Incarnation. It is precisely that concept that gives many folks cause to pause and to say, “Yeah, right. That sounds pretty speculative and philosophical to me. I mean I’ve read the books by guys like Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers. Even Vishnu and Davaki had a ‘miraculous conception.’ It’s all mythology! IF there is a god, or several gods, he-she-it-they all come from the same collective imagination. As Jean Jacques Rousseau quipped, ‘God created man in his own image. And man, being a gentleman, returned the favor.’” And so the position held by many is that Christianity is just another system of mythology that arose out of Judaism, which might be rooted in Zoroastrianism, which might come from … how far back do you want to go?

Here’s my point: None of that matters. What matters is “1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:1-5) It is The Word, the Logos as Christ, which makes the difference. He is the difference. To my Christian friends, that makes sense. For those of you reading this who do not profess to be Christian, I thank you for reading this far, and ask you to stay with it just a bit longer, please.

The letters Paul wrote to his protégé, Timothy, have some real gems about living as a servant of the Lord. Here are a couple of those:

1 Timothy 4:1-21 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will renounce the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared with a hot iron.  

2 Timothy 3:13  13 But wicked people and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived.

In the end, then, unless you hear The Word, you will not know what has been testified to you about your salvation. Must you enter a building with a crowd of other people and collectively attempt to listen to Scripture? My heart tells me no. My heart tells me God will call you to Him in a thousand ways, and one or more of those may have something to do with “religion.” Most of them, though, will be calls to your decency, your moral compass, your faith in humanity, and all of those things originate in Christ through whom all things were made and through whom all of us are called to salvation. No one gets the call without Him. No one gets the benefit of His salvational Grace without Him giving it to him or her. Anyone who accepts that Grace shares in His liberation from condemnation. Having heard, accepted, and acted on the Word, we can and do enter into the Joy of the Kingdom. Those who have heard but rejected The Word diminish, and perhaps discard, any share in that Grace which is always available to every living soul because God is always available to every living soul:

Romans 10:20 20 Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,

“I have been found by those who did not seek me;
I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”
(See Isaiah 65:1-2)

Here is something else from the Prophet Isaiah: Isaiah 55:3 Incline your ear and come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life. I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David. You should also check out Isaiah 53:1 and see how it connects with the verse at the top of the page, Luke 16:29.

Notice that Isaiah says, “listen, that you might have life.” The word used here for listen is also used in the Old Testament for the verb hear, but it is a command to hear, not always the act of hearing. The most recognizable instance is in the Shema: Sh’ma Yis’ra’eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad. “Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.” This declaration by Moses is so powerful! The connotation is “hear, listen to this, and obey.” In this “hearing” one achieves consent, agreement, and understanding because what is heard is so undeniably clear it goes straight to our hearts. We know we have heard Truth speak. And when Truth speaks, there is life. Do you remember what Jesus said about truth? John 8:32 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” And Truth? John 14:6b “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” That is the Life that comes from the listening. It is Everlasting Life that renews us. That renewal is testified to by God himself during Jesus’ Transfiguration.

Matthew 17:5 While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!”  And this is how God’s Love was finally manifested in the World. When you read these words, please hear them as spoken by a proud Papa who is pointing out the excellent young man standing before you. I can recall what that feels like when I think of my son, Timothy. Most of you know that Tim is an exceptional violinist. Sometimes, depending on the venue, people don’t really listen as well as I wish they would. I want them to hear how clean the music is, the virtuosity in those incredible runs, the technique and musicality of intonation and form; I want them to hear his music! “That’s my son. Listen to my son. He’s terrific! You’ve never heard anything like this before! Isn’t it wonderful?!”

In the past, I read this verse in Matthew in the narrative about the transfiguration as a thundering command: “Wake up fools! I’m giving it my best shot by sending you my only beloved son! This is your last chance! LISTEN UP!!!” Now I feel differently about it because I perceive and comprehend the Love of this wonderful Father who shares with us his Son, a Son who will suffer much because it pleases his Father to crush him. I couldn’t do that to my son, but God’s infinite love gave his son my suffering, my punishment, my death – because God loved even me. Even me. That makes absolutely no sense at all in The World. But, I don’t plan to spend Eternity in The World, so it doesn’t really matter if God’s plan makes sense here. I know what I hear, and I believe it.

Are you interested in learning more about Hearing the Voice of God? I’m going to invite you to visit Brendan Case’s dynamic course on just that topic – HEARING THE VOICE OF GOD. It is there for you, thanks to God’s generosity and Brendan’s cooperation, FREE. In Matthew 10:8b, Jesus says, “Freely you have received; freely give.” God wants to make it that easy for you; take a free course and learn how to discern God’s voice out of the thousands of voices contrary to his Word. In 1 Corinthians 2:12, Paul says, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” Belovéd, all the benefits assured to David are YOURS, freely given to us by God.

I challenge you to hear, accept, and act on The Word. The first challenge is: Do you know someone or someplace where The Word is unheard? Help pump up the volume by delivering it. Do it contemplatively through fervent prayer or actively through fervent evangelization. The second challenge is this: Do you know someone that has heard the Word of Christ but rejected the Grace of Faith? Evangelize them. Give him or her the reward, the gift, the Grace of the Good News. Share your Testimony. If you hear the Word, but ignore or scoff at what you heard, please try again. If someone is telling you, “I want you to know Jesus,” please try to meet Jesus. If someone you love is resisting the opportunity to find faith by hearing the Word, love them enough to keep witnessing, asking, encouraging, edifying – and praying for, with, and about them.

Christian Fundamentalist, Christian Evangelical, Orthodox Christian, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Protestant, Universalist, Mormon, or even just “Religion-Curious,” whatever your particular persuasion, you have been called to hear, and by hearing you are called to faith, and by faith you are called to accept the Gift of Love in Christ Jesus. Did you know you can be the voice through which The Word is heard? It is often said, “Our lives are the only Bible some people will ever read.” Beloved, consider making your life an audio-book as well as a pop-up action book. Whatever your calling in Christ, honor the Giver by accepting – and sharing – the Gift of The Living Word. “Now hear ye the Word of the Lord.” He is calling! If you listen, you will hear; if you hear, Faith is just a “yes” away.

Do you have a child, a parent, a friend, a relative, a neighbor, or an acquaintance that needs to hear the Word for the first time, or hear it again? Do it now. Both of you might not have another chance later.

In your prayers:

  • Pray for those who reach and preach as well as for those who draw near to hear.
  • Pray for those who turn a deaf ear.
  • Pray for all the suffering souls whose ears are filled with the sounds of famine, war, terror, prejudice, pestilence, mockery, and abuse.
  • Pray for all those souls who afflict such things as these on others.
  • Pray for the people dying everywhere that they will find Peace and Mercy at the end of their days
  • Pray for those who suffer with chronic illness that they will know the sustaining love of God, family, friends, and caregivers in every moment of their lives.
  • Pray for Peace as though the future depends on it. Truly it does.
  • Pray for the children who are denied the opportunity to hear about Jesus for whatever reason, but especially for those children whose parents have closed their ears to The Word.
  • Pray for adults who think they haven’t got time for God, are too sophisticated to be taken in by religion, or whose lives have been so devoid of genuine love that they don’t know what Love is. SHOW THEM WHAT HAPPINESS LOOKS LIKE! (↔ Music Link)

 

With great love in my heart for each of you, I pray with Paul, “Grace and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ.”

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Creative Commons License
Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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