Posted by: ritagone | February 4, 2010

Yelling and Screeching

One thing I’d like to congratulate Jesus about was the fact that He hardly ever raised His voice, rarely yelled at people, even though He, above all others, probably had more right to do so than any other person.

Unlike the cable news shows of today, where yelling and talking over others seems to be the au courant style.  You can’t understand, nor can you make a legitimate judgment about their viewpoints because…well, you can’t hear their viewpoints.  They are so intent on screaming over one another and being heard that you as the viewer or listener actually hear nothing.  They have lost one viewer for sure: me.  And I assume they have lost countless others too.  I now find myself turning off these free-for-alls because my frustration level climbs so high that I can feel my blood pressure increasing.  So for me, it’s best to move on to something else.  And surely there are a lot of other cable news channel viewers who are having the same reaction?

I assume, then, that the whole reason for this – which is obviously something producers of these programs could quickly quench and eliminate should they choose to do so – is that it somehow, in some bizarre, watching-a-traffic-accident fashion, shows that people are fascinated by this kind of yelling and antipathy and continue to watch in spite of getting no valid information from these encounters.  So it’s also apparent to me that information is not what is sought; entertainment is the goal.  Much like “The Jerry Springer Show” type of train-wreck “entertainment” (and I use the term ‘entertainment’ in quotes very deliberately and purposefully), where you’re not expecting to be informed or educated, these cable shows are out to give you a good time.  After all, we’re not entertained enough, apparently, by the television and music and films all around us.  We need “experts” coming onscreen to screech so that, perhaps, we can walk away feeling a bit superior.  “I wouldn’t do that!”  Or a bit happier because we really didn’t have to exercise our own brain power.

No wonder James told us to pay attention to other people when he said we were to be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.  No wonder too that Jesus spent so much time encouraging His disciples and followers to listen, listen, listen.  Hey, at one point He had to moderate what might have been a heated discussion between James and John, known as the sons of Zebedee, their mother, and Himself as she jockeyed for positions of authority for her sons in Matthew 20.  If this scene were played out on cable TV today, I imagine Jesus stopping along the road, the concerned mother kneeling before Him and asking – like any good agent would do – for top position for her “boys,” while the other disciples, hearing and seeing what was going on, maneuvered into place themselves and begin to yell, “Stop her!  Don’t listen to her!” or words to that effect.

Ah, what a great entertainment it would have been had you been walking along the road that day!  You would have stopped and watched and smiled…and gone away feeling pretty smug, maybe shaking your head and thinking, “Boy, that Jesus and His group!  They’re a hoot!”

Not exactly what the Savior wanted passersby to walk away with, wouldn’t you say?

All of this is a lesson that is forming in my mind about how I am perceived, how I represent Jesus to the watching world.  Am I a screecher?  Is it of major importance that people hear me, understand me, agree with me, know that I know things that they don’t?  Where does all of this “me” come from (apart from my sin nature)?  Why is it so important to me to be in this role?  And, most significant, how can I change?  How can I actually live less of myself and more of Him?

At the end of the day, we would all do well to emulate Jesus’ behavior toward others: slow to speak, slow to anger, a listener, someone who actually cared what the other person was feeling or had to say.  In fact, I went back and briefly studied many of Jesus’ encounters with people during His three-year walk in ministry.  Only once or twice did He speak harshly or loudly; most of the time, He listened.  The God of the universe, He who holds all knowledge and information and insight easily and comfortably, listened to the heart of the people He spoke to.

How can I do any less, then?

So my challenge – and I hope yours for the next week – is this: I’m going to keep my mouth shut more.  (My husband will read this later this morning.  He will laugh.  And yet I still make this commitment – in writing, no less!)  I’m not going to think about what I can say when the person I’m talking to finally stops talking.  I’m going to observe keenly body language and tone of voice because I’m going to deliberately put that other person before myself.

And I’ll tell you how it went when I’m back next week if you’ll pledge to do the same!

So make it a “quiet” week in terms of how much you have to say.  Listen instead.  Care enough to keep silent.  And also make it a blessing to someone else around you.

Regards, Rita


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