TONY ELDER: Listen to God's word, allow Him to change you

Listen to God's word and allow Him to change you

I understand that a new television show premiered recently. It's another in the long line of reality TV competitions. Apparently this one has to do with cooking. It's simply titled "The Taste." Its name reminds me of another such program that I haven't watched, a singing competition called "The Voice."

I'm beginning to wonder what may be next -- "The Smell?" I don't even want to imagine what that might involve.

Due to this trend in the naming of such programs, I've got a suggestion for a new show. It could be entitled "The Ear." It could be based upon a phrase that Jesus often used -- "He who has ears to hear, let him hear" (Matthew 11:15). Contestants could be judged on how well they hear the word of God.

During the auditions, I'm sure there would be quite a variety of competitors. No doubt some would walk out onto the stage with their eyes closed and their hands clamped tightly against the sides of their heads so as to cover their ears.

These are the folks who refuse to even acknowledge the presence of God and who steadfastly refuse to hear anything He might want to say to them. Some of them might even deny that God exists or speaks to people at all.

Then there would be some who come forward wearing their headphones or Bluetooth or other such devices. They're not intentionally trying to shut out God's voice, but they are so focused on other sounds and voices that the words of God get drowned out.

Other contestants will appear to be more attentive to what God is saying to them. They may even smile and nod appropriately, and comment on how interesting it was. But by the time they walk off the stage, they've forgotten everything that was said and their lives are totally unaffected by it.

Then there are the competitors who will hear the word, but who get rather combative. They want to argue with what is being said. Some of God's words clash with their own ideas or with the way they live their lives. Some will angrily walk away from the competition.

Others will try to reinterpret what is being said in such a way as to make themselves more comfortable with it. Others will simply learn to listen to the parts of God's words that they like and filter out the parts they don't like.

You can probably think of other examples of the kind of hearer who wouldn't get very far in this competition.

But then there are those who will do well on the show. These are the people who listen to what God says and who let its truths bear fruit in their lives. They gladly receive God's words and seek to live by them.

Instead of trying to change His words to make them more palatable, they allow His words to change them. Even when the producers of the show throw all kinds of distractions, obstacles, and other voices their way, these contestants continue to discern God's voice and follow what it says.

If such a show was created, I'm afraid I couldn't take credit for it. Not only did Jesus come up with that phrase about people having ears to hear, but He also expressed many of the ideas I've mentioned in what is often called "The Parable of the Sower" (see Matthew 13:3-23).

The reality is that we truly are being judged by how we hear and respond to the words of the Lord. So which of those descriptions of hearer best fits you?

Let's be faithful to try to have "The Ear" to hear "The Voice" and as a result receive "The Taste" of His promised blessings.

The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at RevTElder@aol.com.