One of the books I received for Christmas is Hidden Christmas by Timothy Keller. Great book.
In his chapter about the shepherds’ faith, Keller points out how much easier it was for the shepherds to believe the message of the Gospel because they heard it from majestic angels. By contrast, others may have struggled to believe when hearing it from the lowly shepherds.
Same message. Radically different messengers.
Keller writes, “If a message is challenging or hard to believe, it is easy to dismiss it by focusing on the messengers.”
Are you and I missing out on important messages by judging the content based on the messenger? Life-changing truths can come through unlikely and overlooked sources. Examples:
1. Younger people. It’s easy to dismiss people with less maturity and life experience. But younger people can help us see things from a fresh perspective. Children say things plainly and unvarnished. Young adults bring new ideas and cutting-edge thinking into the workplace. They, too, can teach truth.
2. Older people. Some too quickly label older people as out of touch. While they may not always keep pace in modern lingo or tech savvy, older adults make up tenfold in wisdom and life experience. Many things do not change over time, such as basic human needs and behaviors. Older folks have been there and done that enough to have wise insights to share. They, too, can teach truth.
3. Critics. Sometimes critics have the most helpful insights. Unfortunately you have to sift through the grime to get to the gold. If you can listen with a thick skin, often you’ll find a nugget of truth that could be extremely helpful. Though sometimes communicated in unpleasant ways, you can learn important lessons from even your most outspoken critics. They, too, can teach truth.
4. People with whom you disagree. We all know people who sees things very differently than we do. Religion. Politics. Parenting philosophy. Worship preferences. When we listen to the other side, our thinking becomes more nuanced. We see the world more in its complexity. Considering other viewpoints may cause us to change our views or, the opposite, may solidify our beliefs as we examine our convictions more closely. Even people with whom you disagree can teach truth.
Truth can reside in surprisingly places.
As Keller states, “Even a laughable messenger might be delivering a true message.” As evidence, he cites the story of Balaam’s donkey, through whom God delivered truth. (Numbers 22:21-39) “The lesson is that the medium is not the message, that we must not ignore uncomfortable truths just because they come through an unimpressive messenger.”
In addition to the people I’ve listed, who else do we need to listen to more carefully?
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