Only Those Willing to Stand Close Enough to Listen

Only Those Willing to Stand Close Enough to Listen

It happened again this week. I heard yet again of someone who had not been genuinely listened to. Only those willing to stand close enough to listen

Surprise, surprise, yet still the person’s affected were the poor, and yet again, the ones who hadn’t bothered to listen were the rich.

Rich in power, money, and influence. They make decisions that affect the poor without listening to the poor — thinking that they know best.

Why don’t the powerful listen to the poor?

There are probably many answers to that question, but whenever we listen to someone, we put ourselves at risk of being changed by them.

The deeper we listen, the more risk is taken.

When we don’t listen, we avoid the risk of possibly having to change ourselves — pride and self-protection step in, guarding our hearts.

A one-way relationship isn’t really a relationship at all.
It’s exploitation. Sonia Simone

For Jesus, he got angry. He fumed at the way the poor were being exploited in the name of religion. He chose first and foremost to listen to the poor.

He risked a relationship with the ‘rip you off’ tax collectors, the adulterers, the lepers. Yikes, and he even allowed them to touch him physically!

People screamed ‘Boundaries,’ Jesus just washed their feet.

Who do you risk a relationship with?
Only those like you?
Only those that might do something nice back to you?

Jesus risks a relationship with us. Do we risk a relationship with him and those he loves? Jesus calls us to engage and risk a relationship with those who may not have the power to give back to us.

A favorite author of mine, Jim Wallis, says this.

‘Whom do we listen to and whom do we trust? Trust is essential to listening. Why do we believe the myth that the poor people don’t know anything and can’t be trusted? Where do you really find more truth about society – at the top or the bottom? Are the best solutions conceived in the corridors of power or in the neighbour hoods? Jim Wallis

He goes on to say

Only those willing to stand close enough to listen will ever hear those closest to the problem. Jim Wallis

This statement poses huge problems. I have to stand close to those closest to the problem. I want to keep a nice political distance between thou and I, only coming close at election time when I need your vote.

Be careful, Jesus might just enter the temple of your life with a whip, throw over the tables of exploitation, and scream at the injustices you perpetuate. Today, yes, today, listen deeply.

Question to consider and leave a comment.
  • Who do you risk a relationship with?
  • Who do you stand close to? 
Barry Pearman Image: Creative Commons SpaceShoe [Learning to live with the crisis]