What we listen to, or take in is what can change us, for good or ill. I seem to learn best by listening. So I actually daily listen to the Bible being read. But I refer to listen in this post in a metaphorical sense. What do we take in day after day, or on a regular basis? And ultimately who should have our ear?
N.T. Wright’s book, The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is revolutionized my faith, and turned me back toward my Anabaptist roots (even though he is not Anabaptist), toward a Jesus-oriented, Sermon on the Mount kind of faith, although that journey and the end or outcome of it is much more complex than that. Scot McKnight’s, The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others also powerfully impacted my faith. Another important book for me right now in helping me get my feet more firmly on the ground is also by N.T. Wright: After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters, with an excellent ending chapter on “the virtuous circle,” not to diminish the rest of the book. And there are a number of other key writers for me, such as Eugene H. Peterson, to name one. I wish I could read all of the books I would like to read, but “too many books, too little time.”
Ultimately the one who is to have our ear is the good shepherd, Jesus. We are likened to sheep, and sheep are known to respond to their shepherd’s call, recognizing the voice. If what we are taking in is not helping us hear the voice of the good shepherd, Jesus, then something is amiss.
Interestingly, what and how we hear is influenced by those around us, particularly those who actually do influence us or have our ear for one reason or another. I put our pastors high on that list, Jack and Sharon Brown, who I both deeply respect. And Sharon’s award winning book, Sensible Shoes: A Story about the Spiritual Journey, now being published by InterVarsity Press, is a most worthy read, unique in the way she helps us see how God can powerfully impact and change our lives in community through the spiritual disciplines rooted in scripture as practiced in the church (I am doing this book injustice with that sentence; you must read it for yourself).
In the end, let us listen, listen, and listen some more. Waiting and endeavoring to live as those who move because of the good shepherd’s voice, Jesus. Together in him for the world.