Jesus always wants to speak to us, but we are the ones who always refuse to listen to Him, and so, many a time, His voice goes into voicemail. The message loses its value. The message will not be as hot as it should when you do not listen to him at the moment He calls. When the message is fresh, the word begins to touch every area of your life; and so, you begin to be aware of your spiritual life and how messy it is.
Jesus may not speak to us really with His GSM phone; He speaks to our conscience. When the conscience is there and is receptive to the message, conversation takes place. St. Paul was not listening to Jesus when he was full of himself, he was radical in a destructive way; Mr. Know-it-all who was carried away by his religion i.e. you don’t practice Judaism, you are nobody.
He didn’t want to know that he was doing the wrong thing. It was only when he began to refocus that he began to know that Jesus was talking to him. His Damascus experience changed his whole life. At this point, the voice of Jesus stopped entering into voicemail. In human life when we listen to someone we do not like, we do so with a biased mind and sometimes we pick up some words that will help us attack him. When we use these words on him we feel good but fail to know who we are in Jesus.
Psychologist will call such actions defense mechanism. Defense mechanism is a way to avoid vital issues about ourselves. Instead of accepting our wrongs we defend ourselves. We are guilty but we do not want to accept it, we look for someone to blame. This is scapegoating. Scapegoating has never helped anybody grow spiritually. At conversation, even when a preacher is preaching, we pick up what hurts us and convince others to feel that way too; so that we can have courage to condemn what hurts us.
To feel good we can join an association of those who feel hurt by the gospel preached. Instead of allowing Jesus’ word to heal us we console ourselves with those wounded by Jesus’ word which leads to healing. We allow Jesus’ word to go into voicemail when we do not allow ourselves to be healed by his words. Once the message goes into voicemail, it’s not easy to retrieve it because the mail is stuffed with many different headings from different parts of the society.
When these messages get messed up, you don’t know which one to pick.
In this confusion, we lose the message of Jesus. A great number of us have not allowed the message of Jesus to reach us and to touch our lives. It does not matter whoever is saying or preaching it, but the most important thing is the truth of the message. So, in a sense, the modern man is afraid of gospel confrontations. He’d like the preacher to soften it or be diplomatic. If Jesus were diplomatic in his sayings, many people hungry for truth in his time would have deserted Him.
Those who do not like the truth deserted Him. Alexander the Copper Smith opposed Paul even Demas. Confrontation of the Gospel makes one uneasy. A great number of Christians today have left their church for a church that compromises; a church where prosperity is advertised. But in the end they come back to that church they were condemning.
The cost of discipleship today is expensive, especially when the preacher’s style is different from a preacher that flatters people. When you invite a preacher that flatters to a dinner, you have converted him to your side. And when he is no longer around, you expect other to preach like him. When you no longer listen to the flattering preacher you condemn someone with a new style – confrontational gospel. This style is practical but gives you a blow and heals those areas of your life that are not okay in you as a Christian.
Today, we canonize those who praise us; we canonize them alive, forgetting that canonization is not an affair of one person. The poor take part in making a saint. Pride makes us revolt against the gospel. If we really know what the gospel means we will retrace our steps and take a bold step to embrace the Gospel values of Jesus. The Scribes and Pharisees who felt that they knew more than Jesus spent all their time listing Jesus’ faults, condemning Him all the time and feeling good that they have knocked Him down.
Nobody who condemns what sustains him ever lives a normal life. The gospel is our life. If we destroy what sustains us, what is left in us again? That is why Jesus’ voice should not go into voicemail; but should appeal to our consciences.
Very. Rev. Msgr Livinus Ukah