“Sound travels slowly. Sometimes the things you say when your kids are teenagers don’t reach them till they’re in their forties.” (Anon)
That’s a funny quote but it doesn’t just apply to teenagers. We all have the ability to exercise selective hearing at times. It is easy to tune out the sounds, or sound advice, that we do not like. As adults, who say we desire to follow Jesus, we are often cautious in obeying his commands.
For example, why is it that when reading Luke 6:27-31 we want to add a number of exceptions to Jesus’ words?
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Our tendency, after reading this, is to say, “Well, what Jesus really meant was…” or “I don’t think Jesus had my current situation in mind when he said that so I can just…” It is a hard passage and there is no question that it goes against our nature. However, our Christian discipleship demands that we wrestle with these words of Jesus. He was not giving us helpful advice we could use in some circumstances where we think it might be helpful. He was telling us what exactly it means to follow after him.
Sound travels slowly. Words spoken 2000 years are still reaching us today. The question is, what do we do when we finally hear them?