When I was at school I was teased relentlessly about the size of my ears. They simply grew that bit faster than my head. I’ll readily admit that there was a degree of disproportionality about them (there is photographic evidence). As a teenager that wasn’t helpful. And so questions like ‘how big are your ears?’ were taunts with which I became uncomfortably familiar. I’m sure it was character forming.
But last night I sat in on one of our small group Bible studies study and, in effect, Jesus asked me the very same question. How big are your ears?
We were looking at Mark 4 and Jesus’ teaching about whether or not we really listen to the word of God. Immediately prior to that section, Jesus draws a distinction between those on the outside and those on the inside of the Kingdom of God. Those on the inside, described as those around him, are distinguished from those on the outside by their determination to do the will of God. Chapter 4 answers the implied question ‘what’s the will of God?’ Listening. Having ears to hear. Paying attention to Jesus’ words. Opening up our ears so that we consider carefully what we hear. That’s the will of God. And Jesus, following on from the parable of the soils in which he identifies some of the things that prevent us from hearing God’s word, makes a promise. ‘With the measure you use, it will be measured to you – and even more’ (24). If we listen to God’s word with big ears, then God will make sure that we hear it, and then some. What. A. Promise.
No doubt many of us approached the New Year with all sorts of resolutions. ‘Being better at reading the Bible’, typically features on my list. Every year, without fail. Sadly making a resolution has proved unfailingly inadequate. But Jesus’ promise (and his subsequent warning) gives me the motivation I need. I don’t want to blank God and suffer the consequences of him withholding spiritual understanding. I don’t want to be denied knowledge of him and his ways. I do want to listen to what he has to say to me about himself and his kingdom. And I’m excited at what he’ll help me understand.
But that’s not enough. This newfound enthusiasm needs to express itself in action. There are all sorts of practical things that I need to do to ensure that my motivation actually leads somewhere. I’ve often found the resources at the Good Book Company a real help. On the personal Bible reading side of things, I’m a big fan of the Daily Study Bible. I’ve recently downloaded the Explore app from Google Play so that I’ve got access to it on my new tablet. But in addition, this website provide us with a wealth of ideas and resources.
But whatever we do, let’ s make sure that we have ears to hear.