Hey, Good Buddy, Ya Got Your Ears On?

original photo credit: Travis Isaacs via photopin cc
photo credit: Travis Isaacs via photopin cc

There was a season during my teenage years when CB radios were all the rage. People installed them in their cars and sometimes even their houses. My buddy’s dad had his own little CB station set up in the corner of his living room to keep him entertained through the long winter evenings.

“CB Lingo”—once only the language of truckers and rednecks—became common jargon for all of American society. Whether by radio or by phone, it was common to greet a friend with, “Hey, Good Buddy, Ya Got Your Ears On?” Little did I realize then that it was Jesus who coined that phrase—only His was a slightly different version.

Talking on CB Radio
photo credit: Andrew 鐘 via photopin cc

Matthew 13:3-9 records what is often called “the parable of the sower.”

And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.” (NASB)

Did you notice how Jesus ended His little story? “He who has ears, let him hear.” It’s similar to, “Hey, Ya Got Your Ears On?” but with a slightly different twist. Jesus commonly used this phrase when in the process of making a difficult statement. In a sense, the Son of God was saying, “Listen up folks, you may not like what I’m saying, but you really need to hear this.”

photo credit: Natanis Davidsen via CreationSwap
photo credit: Natanis Davidsen via CreationSwap

After Jesus presented the parable of the sower, the crowds went on their way marveling about the eloquent stories that He told. Christ’s disciples, however, pulled Him aside and began to ask questions in an effort to get to the heart of the matter. The Messiah’s followers didn’t just hear what Jesus said; they actually listened.

You know, one thing about Jesus is that He is just so darn easy to ignore—at least in the short-term. A few people in Western culture totally reject what Jesus had to say, and I’ll say that, at the very least, I applaud them for their honesty. Most of us simply pick and choose, approaching the teachings of Christ like we would a restaurant buffet. We keep what tastes pleasant to the palate, while conveniently ignoring anything we deem to be distasteful.

Buffet
photo credit: Andrew Michaels via photopin cc

The problem with this approach is that the words of Jesus Christ can never be simply a matter of preference—they are the very words of life. Whether we choose to reject His teachings, or simply ignore them, I can guarantee that we will find ourselves paying a steep price in the end. The Creator of the Universe is not to be trifled with.

Personally, I really do prefer the pleasant parts of Christianity. I like, for instance, going on retreats—taking time to linger in the presence of God and sitting around the campfire singing Kumbaya with my brothers and sisters in Christ. But along the way, I have also learned the life-giving value of less palatable things like hard truth, correction, and discipline. The fact that I don’t like something doesn’t mean that I don’t need it!

How about you? Ya Got Your Ears On?

Who Ate My Chocolate?

Many of us have had that Kumbaya experience. Perhaps it was at a retreat as everyone sang around the campfire, basking in the warm, fuzzy feelings of fellowship. The moment was so special and everyone was just so wonderful—that is until you returned to the lodge only to discover that some schmucks had eaten the chocolate candy bar you had squirreled away in your room. So much for warm and fuzzy—somebody is going to pay!

My underlying point is that unity must be Christ-centered. The idea of everyone just getting along like one big happy family simply doesn’t work. You may really want world peace, but eventually someone will eat your chocolate. What then? Love isn’t some cheap commodity that can be purchased in a dollar store. The ability to forgive those who hurt and offend us can’t be downloaded from the internet. If love and forgiveness came that easily, we’d all have an abundance!

People will let us down. Sometimes it’s an unintentional oversight. Or perhaps a person means well and is misguided. The fact that we all have self-centered tendencies doesn’t help. As long as even one person performs a selfish action, someone will need to forgive. In a world with billions of self-absorbed people we’re in trouble (as evidenced by the reality around us).

Our reality is that the noblest of all thoughts for unity mean little unless empowered by some type of mechanism to transform the core motivations of human hearts. This leads us to both the centrality and the beauty of the Gospel.

“For he is our peace, the one who made both groups into one and who destroyed the middle wall of partition, the hostility, when he nullified in his flesh the law of commandments in decrees. He did this to create in himself one new man out of two, thus making peace, and to reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by which the hostility has been killed. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, so that through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” Ephesians 2:14-18 (NET)

While this blog format doesn’t allow for the opportunity to explore this passage in depth, the imagery is clear and certain.  He is our peace. Through the cross He has destroyed the wall of hostility that separates us. Any other methods and motivations toward unity fall woefully short when confronted by the harsh realities of life. The real question for the church is whether or not we will allow Christ to be our peace and to destroy the walls of hostility that separate us.

The Gospel really is a universal message of community that goes well with or without chocolate.