When I was a kid I spent a lot of time at my friend C’s house. His dad had some seriously selective hearing. If we were in the same room as him we had to practically shout to be heard. But, when I would spend the night we would often stay up late watching TV. The TV was in the living room downstairs and C’s dad slept upstairs. We would turn the TV down as low as possible and sit really close. Even then, it seemed, C’s dad would come down stairs and tell us the sound of the TV was disturbing his sleep. I think we eventually resorted to using those wireless TV headphones, sharing a single pair, straining to hear the improv show In Living Color.
I realized recently, though, that sometimes I get a bad case of spiritual selective hearing. I find myself wondering – God, why can’t I hear you? What are you trying to say? More often than not I discover later that God has been speaking, he just hasn’t been saying the things I want him to say. My autonomous self only wants to hear those things which are particularly comforting to me or puff me up. I don’t want to hear the voice of rebuke, of judgment, of warning, or of self-denial. So I close my ears and then blame God for being silent. This is nothing less than rebellion.
This Sunday I’m preaching on Hebrews 10:19-39. It’s a passage not only do I feel uncomfortable hearing, it’s one I feel uncomfortable speaking. It’s a word of warning. It’s a strong word of warning. Here’s the particularly jarring passage:
26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. – Hebrews 10:26-31 (NIV)
It’s got everything that flies in the face of our prevailing culture – a God who judges, hell, the exclusivity of Christ. This isn’t a “comfortable” Christianity. Yet, it’s the Word of God. I can’t tell God he’s being silent and yet fail to listen to what I don’t want him to be saying.
Lord, help me both have open ears, and an open mouth, this Sunday.