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Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Listening Church

COMMUNICATION is at the heart of everything. Whether on earth or in heaven, or whether by light or by darkness, in good times as well as bad, communication is the precipice of existence, the pinnacle of meaning, and the principle of life. And if communication is the heart of everything, the soul of that heart is listening.
Listening is the humility of the holiness of God — the very manifestation of the Divine Good as present in humanity.
The Listening Church As She Listens to God
The listening church prays. Praying is as much about listening to the Holy Spirit, with a heart to discern what only the Spirit can say, as it is about a supposedly holy utterance (for, how many prayers are uttered in an unworthy fashion?).
The listening church listens to God and she does everything to perceive in preference to acting. She doesn’t act until she has perceived and weighed matters. We perceive the church as feminine given that femininity is essentially about bearing up and enduring — i.e. as in labouring and childbirth. The church is in receipt of the Word; the church does not give the Word. The church may promulgate the Word, but she never initiates in and of herself without first listening in order to perceive in order to act. And who may perceive but for a heart after God alone? Who, then, may act without being constantly aware of the responsibility it holds? The responsibility that the church holds is immense.
The listening church must listen or else she fails God at what she is called to do. Without listening there is no right perception, and where there is no right perception, any and all action is ultimately forlorn.
The Listening Church As She Listens to Others (Who Disagree)
The listening church sets herself apart as capable of listening; even as capable of tolerating the vitriol of divisive voices, from both within and without. The church distances herself from the vain pride of arrogance — a heinous and worldly presence so estranged to the Spirit.
The listening church repels that presence from within herself, whilst she bears assaults of all kinds that have that presence. The church, in this holy and regal regard, is utterly other-than everything else over the whole earth. The church recoils from any inner strain of speech of vainglory.
The listening church is able to accommodate every vocal attack of disagreement. It holds the attack as non-threatening, respecting the visceral voice which is always spoken from the place of the divisive one’s abiding truth.
The listening church is no threat to anyone and cannot, in herself, be threatened. She abides in the truth as a peacemaker, holding out in the integrity of faith in the shimmering hope of the Kingdom of God.
The Listening Church As She Listens to Herself
The listening church is introspective. She learns. She cannot help but be intrusively passionate in looking within, to be everything she can be for those she serves. She bears discomfort in her learning. She approaches the presence of her own humiliation in great preference to another’s. Indeed, she exists to advocate against another’s humiliation. She wants others listened to!
The listening church is humble in every way, open at all points for learning, and able to hear herself when challenging truths need to be spoken and heard from within.
***
In a world where communication is everything, the church, when she is best, is a listener.
The listening church is everything the world needs. Everything the world needs of the church can be achieved through listening.
Only when the church listens can she perceive. Only when she has perceived can she rightfully act. Only when the church acts rightfully is the church being the church. And it all starts, endures and ends through listening.

© 2015 Steve Wickham.

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