Thursday, February 18, 2010

Listen For Yourself

Acts 25:22
Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear the man myself.” “Tomorrow,” he said, “you will hear him.”

It’s amazing how quick we can condemn another off of hearsay. We get caught up in “tabloid truth,” the “barbershop gospel,” and read the “blog bibles” to put together sketchy accounts of what actually happened. What is most surprising is how educated, mature, Christian people still allow a “mob mentality” to take over their reasoning process when determining the guilt or innocence of a person.

African-Americans are all too painfully familiar with this “Lynch Mob” mentality. In the early 50’s hundreds of blacks were lynched because of speculation of some offense. Emmitt Till a teenager from up North was visiting his family in Mississippi and made the deadly mistake of flirting with a white woman. A group of white men came to his relatives house dragged him out the house threw him in a truck, beat him, murdered him, and threw him in the river with a “cotton gin” barb-wired around his neck. I wonder if they talked to him before they killed him or is all they needed was confirmation of their own insecurities, 'a young black man trying to take what belonged to them?'

How many more innocent people have to die because you chose to assassinate their character on hearsay?

The Apostle Paul was in danger of a “lynch mob” of religious leaders who wanted to ambush him to kill him all because of jealousy. He was preaching about Jesus and large crowds would come to hear him and they got jealous. They were trying to say Paul was heretical in his teaching but the fact was they were jealous and wanted to kill him because this young man was taking away what they were insecure of losing, power.

Paul appealed to a higher court and he asked to go see Caesar because he was a Roman Citizen. God was using his attack as an opportunity to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. The persecution was for a greater good but it was the misguided hate of these haters that propelled Paul to a greater audience.

While he was awaiting trial and departure in Rome, King Agrippa heard about Paul’s case. He heard some good things and some bad things about Paul. He said, “Let me hear him for myself.” Whenever there is a buzz of controversy about someone and there is a mixture of good and bad, do yourself a favor and listen for yourself. You may be missing out on being enlightened because of the hype of insecure people.

Listen for yourself. For example, when you’re watching the ideological chess games of opinions between CNN and Fox News about Pres. Obama learn how to listen for yourself. Read the plans of the President before you get caught up in a Tea Party that is fueled by hate and insecurity.

How do you listen for yourself?

1. Read their books/plans. You can learn a lot about a person by following their train of thought. You may not agree totally but at least give them a read before you lynch them.

2. Listen to their story. There are always two sides to a story...well maybe three. His Story, Her Story, and the Truth.

3. Watch the whole movie, not an edited clip. Look at the totality of their career and life before you take a sound bite to prove your opinion correct. Jeremiah Wright will be known for one sound bite, “GD America!” when he spent his whole life doing ministry, helping people, and fighting for Social Justice. He has been lynched.

4. Listen to their heart. If you were to listen to them in person, the Holy Spirit will let you know if they are who they say they are. Jesus said, “My sheep know my voice and will not listen to a voice of a stranger.”

Dear God, give me the ability to listen for myself and form my own informed truth. We’ve lost some great minds because of “lynch mobs,” Dr. King, Malcolm X, Dietrich Bonheoffer, John F. Kennedy…Don’t let me get caught up in the mob and don’t let me be a victim of the mob but let me discern between truth and hype.

In Jesus Name,

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