Read Luke 18: 35-48
For over five years I have had the privilege of coaching debate teams. Being a debater is an incredible opportunity for any high schooler to develop their abilities to communicate effectively and professionally from a young age. As a former debater myself, I know the benefits of being a part of this program. Perhaps, however, the hardest part of learning how to debate, and certainly the hardest part of coaching and teaching debate, is emphasizing the importance of listening. Succeeding in a debate is as much about listening as it is about effectively orating your arguments.
In 2020, it appears as if listening to others, especially those we disagree with, is a non-option. Civil discourse and finding common ground, at least for the time being, are strategies seemingly only employed in the past. The example Jesus provides to us in our reading today, however, should inform us how we, as Christians, should engage in culture and with others. Much like succeeding in a debate round, this passage in Luke shows us that successfully engaging in life often means hearing out those who are not like us.
At face value, there could not have been two more opposite folks than the main characters in this passage. On one hand, we have Jesus- Lord, Messiah, the Savior, and a man that, at that time, was literally followed by huge crowds. On the other hand, we have a blind beggar- very poor, outcast by society because of his impairment, and a reject. Notice how the crowds wanted to keep them separated. Culture and society would not have these two engage in dialogue. It would be taboo.
Jesus was a trailblazer. He came to show us what love is and what love does. He is love. Jesus shows us, in this instance, that two very different people from two very different walks of life can engage together. Jesus, at this moment, shows us that to listen is to show love. This moment is also striking because, as much as the crowds wanted to keep the man separated from Jesus, it was his faith that caught the attention of Jesus. Not who the beggar was or what he did. It was his faith that Jesus admired. Trusting Jesus in faith set this man free from blindness, and it is that same trust and faith in our Savior that will set you and I free from the burden of our sin.
I wonder who you are feeling pressured by society and culture not to engage with? My prayer for you and I is that, in these difficult days, we will heed the example of Jesus and show love to people who think differently than we do by genuinely listening to them. Listening out of love, not out of obligation.