On Friday’s post, “Training in Ordinary Life: Trying Out Our Skills,” Alan Knox asks, “Besides listening to the Spirit and one another, what role to you think responding to the Spirit and one another play ‘Training in Ordinary Life’?”
This got me thinking about the basis for my assumption that response is inherent in the biblical notion of hearing. As I pondered Saturday morning, the phrase, “he who has ears to hear, let him hear,” came to mind. In theESV, some version of this phrase appears 29 times, covering both testaments, all three sections the TaNaKh ( Torah, Prophets, and Writings), and three of the four sections of the New Testament (Gospels, Acts, and Letters). Three key identifiers are drawn from these passages. Hearing
- is something beyond mere sensory input.
- involves willed comprehension.
- includes a logical response to what is heard.
Beyond mere sensory input. having ears to hear is a capacity of both body and soul. The physical sounds enter our bodies and are processed in some manner by our brains and our minds, but true hearing does not stop there. True hearing is more than input; it is a capacity of soul-body unity and has an effect on both. In regard to the hearing of ideas, there is always some sort of heart-transformation, however large or small that transformation might be.
Willed comprehension. As human persons, we have a capacity for and responsibility over heart-openness. We can close our hearts to ideas; we can open our hearts to ideas. The choice to comprehend is not mere mental gymnastics, but has effects in time and space. Ideas shape our hearts and our hearts shape our lives. What is in the heart leaks out in the life. As members of Christ’s Body, we have a relational responsibility to be aware of our fellow members’ leaks–whether good or ill–and to help one another be more like Jesus: having hearts full of God’s ideas and lives that leak him.
Logical response. Having ears to hear includes a logical response to the ideas that have been heard, so much so, that if our way of thinking and acting has not been changed (even if minutely), then we have not actually heard. The changes–the heart transformation–will be detectable in time and space, for we exist as unified wholes in time and space. Therefore, our brothers and sisters who are with us in time and space can and should offer verification and/or correction to what we have heard. Verification and correction are needed are needed because the same will that can close the heart can also distort or misinterpret the ideas heard. We need one another.
So, what is the role of responding to the Spirit in ordinary life? Responding to the Spirit is the continuation of listening to the Spirit; it is the evidence that we have indeed heard him.