Have you ever had a conversation with someone and, although they acknowledged what you said, you knew they didn’t really hear you? I think most of us have had this experience at one time or another, because it’s common for people to hear and not really listen or to see and not really understand. This is exactly why Jesus taught in parables, and it’s why stories are often used, even in the Old Testament, to drive home a point. Rabbis in our Lord’s day had an expression they would use if a person answered a teaching correctly. They would say, “You have heard and you have heard. You have seen and you have seen.” When David killed Bathsheba’s husband by putting him at the front of the line in battle and then took her as his wife, the prophet Nathan confronted him by sharing a parable about a rich neighbor who stole a lamb from a poor neighbor and gave it to a traveler as a gift. When he heard the story, David was so outraged by the rich man’s actions that he responded by saying, “The man who did this must die.” At that point, he had no idea that the parable being shared was actually about his iniquity. Though he listened to Nathan say it, he didn’t really hear until he was told bluntly that it was an analogy to his own life. Once the eyes of his heart were open, he heard and he heard and he saw and he saw.
My friend, in a time when division, misunderstanding, and strife abound, be the one who really sees and really hears. Though there are thousands of voices crying out for your notice, choose wisely the ones you give your attention to and vow to be a person who fully engages what is being said in your hearing. Resist the urge to brush aside those who hold opinions or perspectives that are different than yours, and always be willing to look beneath what is obvious in order to mine pearls of knowledge and truth. Be vigilant and fully-engaged with the world, and resolve to be a carrier of Christ’s wisdom and peace wherever you go. Your salt and light are needed now more than never, so spread them joyfully and liberally whenever and with whomever you have the chance.