Has this ever happened to you? You get an e-mail that explains a situation and then asks for a response. It seems simple and straightforward and you reply. But as soon as you press “send” you realize you didn’t read the e-mail carefully enough and missed a key piece of information.
If it makes you feel any better, this happens to me a lot. Far too often I have to send a follow-up e-mail with “oops” in the subject line.
I am preaching on the Parable of the Sower in Luke 8 this Sunday, and I’m thinking about Jesus’ question, “Are you listening, really listening?” (The Message)
Jesus used everyday examples of bread, coins, sheep, and seeds to tell parables. Yet there was always a twist, something culturally unexpected, like a shepherd that would leave ninety-nine sheep unguarded to go off and find the one that was lost. His parables surprised and confused people.
This was intentional. Jesus wanted them to listen deeply and hear something different in what he was saying. They had perceptions of God or his kingdom that weren’t true, and his parables challenged these perceptions. If they listened, really listened, they would hear the truth about God, and that truth would change how they lived, and bear fruit in their lives.
Jesus still uses everyday things to tell parables–like the Parable of the Simple E-mail. In this parable, he calls me to listen to others, not just to their words, but to them. To listen under what they are saying and hear what they’re experiencing. He wants me to hear what’s true: I am sad, lonely, excited, at peace, afraid, losing hope.
Jesus calls me to listen with him.
Some truth can be too much to bear. But he promises to bear it with me, help me pray for them, and know how to respond.
He sows the seeds of his kingdom everywhere. And if I listen, really listen to the parables in my life, I may recognize my false perceptions and be changed. And that change, Jesus promises, will bear fruit.