Double Listening

“Can you say that again?” might be your response if I said; “What does ‘Double Listening’ mean?” That’s not quite what we are thinking about here though. I first came across the term when listening to a talk by John Stott. He talked about the need to listen to both the Bible and also to society.

The question he posed was how do we listen to the Bible? His answer, was simple, we read it, and we listen to others reading and expounding from it, usually in our Sunday sermons or in house groups.

But more than just do these things, we have to pay careful attention to God’s word as it is through the Bible that God often speaks to the world today. The Bible should also be shaping the way that we see the world as well. At the same time John Stott went on to say that just reading the Bible isn’t going to change society. Praying, ‘Your kingdom come’ involves and connects us to the issues and the challenges that exist in our world. You see to make a difference in the world we can’t only listen to the Word of God, we have to listen to those around us as well, to the people we meet every day. We must also listen to the ideas, hopes and fears expressed in books, journalism and entertainment media.

Listening to the Word of God and to the world around us, prompts us to respond in love and grace.

We might prefer to just listen to the Word of God, to hide away from listening to the world as it is too difficult, too frightening, too much. But without the listening to the world we cannot have a voice in that world; without hearing what the world is saying how can we respond in any meaningful way?

This doesn’t mean that we listen to God and our fellow human beings in the same way or with the same attitude. We should listen to the Word of God with a humble reverence and an anxiety to understand what it is saying to us, a resolve to understand and to do as God’s word calls us to do.

We listen to the world, on the other hand with an anxiety to understand it as well, but not necessarily to agree with it or to obey its call; rather to sympathise and to seek the grace to discover how the Good News of Jesus can relate to it.

We live in turbulent times, and with another election around the corner we need to be confident in our faith and able to discern what is right in our society, to stand up for justice and to defend those unable to defend themselves.

As you read your Bible ask yourself – How does this connect to what I am doing this week? – Feelings, conversations etc? As I listen to the radio, watch TV, engage with a film, read the papers… how can I hear the voice of the world? How do I relate my double listening to my everyday life?

Can I talk to someone about my reflections? – In my Home group, informally over a cuppa?


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