Sharing & Deep Listening

Sharing & Deep Listening 
Sermon Reflection fro Herk Stokely- July 1, 2018

Today, based on this passage, we were asked: “Is St. Paul a hypocrite?”

1st Corinthians 9: 19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. 23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

True, Pastor Rachel intended it to be a rhetorical question — but it is a good one. 

Applying what I think  St. Paul is saying here is that if I wish to relate deeply with someone, I have to start where they are.

I have over the years developed what I could described as my personal truth.  It’s been a long journey. I know that it’s not over yet and I’m definitely still working on it. My truth, my experience, my understanding, the adventures – the good, the bad, good choices, mistakes and difficulties are all part of me.  It’s not theoretical.  It’s what I AM and what I’ve come to understand of what that means, all colored by much contemplation, many relationships, insightful teachings and all that I’ve been and everywhere that I’ve gone, and all that I have done.  It is personal and real.  I haven’t arrived where I am either quickly or easily, and whether in joy or difficulties, I am not likely to be easily changed, persuaded or deflected from it.  I think most of us feel that way at some level. 

Paul is saying that if he wants to share his truth with someone, he has to start by making it clear to them that he understands where they are coming from.  In my experience the only way that one can do that is by listening — and listening with a receptive and understanding heart.  When a relationship develops to the point that deep sharing is possible it almost always begins with questions.  Questions, followed by listening and more questions can often open doors to deeper conversation.  When questions flow in both directions, it’s a pretty good sign that a door is beginning to open. 

There is a particular translation of one of the Bible Proverbs that I have found unforgettable.  I read it many years ago and it really struck me.  The Proverbs often speak of the “fool” or “foolish” person”.  It’s translated many ways, but a generous one would be referring to a person who is completely self-absorbed.

Proverbs 18: 2 A fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his whole mind.

He’s backing up the dump truck — Look Out – here it comes!  I have met that person a few times, and hopefully I haven’t been that person too often.  Frankly I think St. Paul nailed it!

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