I have vivid memories of growing up and going over to visit my grandfather. As we drove up the stone driveway, we could hear every sound coming from his television. This was true even when the house windows were closed and the car windows were rolled up. That is how absurdly loud my grandfather had his television turned up due to his bad hearing. Fast forward to today and I am now the grandfather, who as a result of bad hearing, has my television absurdly loud. Let’s investigate the connection between deafness, absurdity, obedience and our relationship with God.
Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned from my grandfather’s television. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and I was constantly being told by my parents that I needed to turn my music down. They would say: “It’s too loud, you’ll make yourself deaf.” Suffice it to say there are a lot of us baby boomers who, now that we are older, don’t hear very well. Hmmm, maybe my parents were right. Have you ever stopped to think that maybe the same is true in our spiritual life? Perhaps the temptations of this world are so absurdly loud that we no longer hear and listen to the voice of God.
Let’s investigate a little further. We read this in Luke 9:35: “Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”” In Luke 14:15: we find; “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” In this message I will attempt to make the connection between listening to and keeping the commandments.
The title is “From Absurdity to Obedience.” What do I mean by that? To answer that question we need to examine the foundational meaning of the words absurd and obedient. These words have opposing meanings. Let’s look.
Underlying the word absurd we find the Latin word “ab” which finds its origin in the word absolute and the Latin word “surdus,” which means deaf. Therefore the word absurd can be read to mean totally-deaf.
Obedient comes to us from the Latin “obedire” and can be broken into “ob” meaning to and “audire” meaning listen. In other words, to be obedient means “to-listen,” and to listen means to be obedient.
When the voice from the cloud told us to listen to His Son, God was telling us to obey His Son. When we choose not to obey Jesus we are turning a deaf ear to Him and to do so is simply absurd! In John 15:10-16, Jesus tells us that if we keep His commandments and live in His love, His joy will be ours and our joy will be complete. Stated differently, if we choose not to obey the teachings of Jesus we cannot find true and lasting joy in life.
Physically speaking scientists tell us that as we age, our hearing deteriorates. Spiritually speaking we hope that our hearing grows stronger. Young children have a keen sense of hearing. Perhaps that is one of the reasons Jesus told us we needed to be like little children. He wanted us to hear and to obey.
As humans we are born with a tendency towards sin. As we grow deeper in our faith and study the words of God in Scripture, hopefully we find ourselves called to obey what we read. Life is the process of moving from absurdity (spiritual deafness) to a life of listening to God and obedience. You could say they we all fall somewhere on the SPIRITUAL ABSURDITY METER. The left side of the meter points to spiritual deafness and the right side points to careful listening and complete obedience.
Think for a minute about how absurd it is every time we engage in sin (lust, greed, gluttony, envy, anger, pride and sloth). Take for example the sin of lust, which is the underlying sin behind our overly sexualized culture and behind the world-wide pornography epidemic. It is tempting to believe that lust will lead to joy. That is just another of Satan’s many lies. Any joy found through this sin is fleeting. The temporary joy will soon be replaced with guilt and regret. The same is true for every one of the deadly sins.
I am sure all of us, from time to time, wrestle with at least one of these sins. Sadly, sometimes we struggle with several of them. Now pay close attention to this distinction. Many of us spend time reading scripture, we know what it says, yet we fail to obey God’s word. Knowing and obeying are two separate things. Obedience is not a very popular word in today’s culture, but it should be.
We see in the life of Jesus that His obedience brought Him peace and union with His Father. St. Paul often wrote about slavery to sin but he also taught us about the freedom that comes from doing the Will of God. Perhaps we should all take a close look at where our life falls on the Spiritual Absurdity Meter. There is no time better than today to make the necessary changes. To do otherwise would simply be absurd.
- In what aspects of life are you living in absurdity?
- If listening means obeying, are you truly listening to God?
Most Heavenly Father, you have given me the ability to hear your word, now grant me the strength to obey what I have heard, amen.
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