Here’s a thought. What if you actually did the things we talk about? What if when you hear a teaching in Bible study or heard a message from the pulpit on Sunday you actually decided to do what it said? Listen, this is important. What we are doing is not entertainment. What we are doing and saying is intended to make a change in your life. Listening to teaching and preaching is not about whether you enjoy the message. It’s about whether or not you hear it and then do what it says. The Bible is pretty plain about this. Hearing and not then doing is a sign of self deception. Either we think we don’t need to do what is said because we are good enough as we are or we think the purpose of what is said is for our enjoyment and not for our instruction. Both are wrong. Hearing does not become listening until we are living, or trying to live, the truth you’ve heard.
We are actually expected by God to live lives like those described in the pages of Scripture. We are to live lives that are marked by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. We are to be like Jesus, and like Peter and Paul. We are to be like even those unnamed people in Acts who are living extraordinary lives that can only be explained by saying that these people were invaded by God himself. We are to do extraordinary miracles. We are to love as widely and as ridiculously as God does and include people we would, unless God were at work, consider to be enemies. We are to live as if heaven has already come here.
Scripture and preaching and teaching can transform us into these people if we let it. This means that when you hear you must take time to consider what you hear. Let the words, the thoughts, linger. Compare yourselves to what you hear. How do you measure up? Do you need to stretch, to try something new and different? Do you need to let go of something? Whatever it is do it. Do not be satisfied with the partially made being you are. Listen. Hear. Obey. Live.
There is an old preacher’s story I’ve used from time to time. It’s a story about a church who’s membership was ducks. Every Sunday the ducks waddled down to church and filled the sanctuary. The duck pastor would preach stirring messages. He’d say, “Ducks, you have wings!” The ducks would quack “amen.” “Ducks,” the pastor would say, “you are made for the sky!” More approving quacks. “Ducks!” the pastor would continue, “Spread your wings and soar!” The ducks would all stand and raise their wings to the sky and quack and quack amens. And then the benediction would be said and then all the ducks would waddle home.
It sounds funny when we tell it about ducks, doesn’t it?