Welcome to the new year. It’s another year to build on our relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ. It’s another year to live a life which shows Him to those around us. It’s another year to walk with Him and serve Him. So let’s start off the year by gearing up for the days ahead, making sure our heart and minds are ready for what is to come. Let’s start by talking about learning. Are we willing to learn? That’s an important question. If we’re not willing to learn, it doesn’t matter how good the teacher is. We won’t learn. Whether it’s a conscious act of will (“I will not listen!”) or an unconscious reflex (“This is a great passage of Scripture. It talks about… Hey, squirrel!”), if our hearts and minds are not open and ready to learn, we won’t. For instance:
“Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
“In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,
‘YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND;
YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE;
FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL,
WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR,
AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES,
OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES,
HEAR WITH THEIR EARS,
AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN,
AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.’
“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.
– Matthew 13:13-16, NASB
This passage is Jesus’ response to His disciples when they asked Him why He always spoke in parables. His point was really, really simple: for those who care to learn, they’ll dig deeper than the surface story. For those who don’t really care to learn, they won’t get it. They will probably say, “Oh! Nice story!” and move on. But they won’t care that there’s a deeper message, or a reasonable interpretation of the story that applies to daily life. Now I’m not talking about some sort of “secret knowledge” which is a past heresy of the Church. Rather, I’m talking about the fact that the parable of the sower (which is what prompted them to ask Jesus) isn’t just about some guy throwing seeds around. Rather, it’s an illustration of how different people respond to God’s message. You can hear the parable of the sower and go, “Yeah, another story, wonderful.” Or you can take a step further and say, “What is Jesus trying to demonstrate to us?” And then it doesn’t take anything to go further, especially because Jesus was quick to reveal to His disciples exactly what the parable meant. They just had to ask.
Where do we stand with respect to God? Are we like the disciples, asking God to show us more of Himself? Are we asking to understand His grace and mercy, His justice and righteousness, His ways and thoughts, or are we like the folks Jesus was talking about, with our eyes closed, our ears scarcely hearing, and our hearts not understanding? It’s our choice once we have come to Christ. Are we willing to learn from God or are we closed down to what He has to say to us? The first case is what God wants of us. He has so much to show us and teach us. He has so much to reveal to us. But we’ve got to be ready to learn. We’ve got to be looking for that lesson from Him. Are you ready? I am. I want to see what our great God wants to teach me. I want to have Him expose those areas of my life I need to work on. I desire Him to increase my faith and trust in Him. But all of that is only possible if I’m willing to learn.