Listen to God Not the NoiseDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
You know how badly we had been treated at Philippi just before we came to you and how much we suffered there. Yet our God gave us the courage to declare his Good News to you boldly, in spite of great opposition. So you can see we were not preaching with any deceit or impure motives or trickery.
1 Thessalonians 2:2-3
Listening to radio cohosts, recently, I chuckled when one exclaimed to the other, "Just because you say it louder than me and more forceful, that doesn't mean you're right." It was funny because it's a technique that is very popular among my friends. And I am pretty good at it too.
If you are not sure of your facts, speak loudly, forcefully, and use hyperbole. You’ll win many an argument. Generally we refer to this technique as bull. (I'll use the shortened term here in polite company.)
In ancient Greece, the masters of Bull were called Sophists. They built logical arguments out of pure rhetorical technique. And they often counted on their skill as rhetoricians to gain favor and to attract students who would pay to gain the teacher's wisdom.
Verbal sparring was a significant part of community life during the first century. Paul's training was anchored in the Jewish law and tradition. He was from Tarsus (modern day Turkey) located about half way between Athens and Jerusalem, by land.
The location of Tarsus serves as an important metaphor. Paul was a Roman citizen, culturally Greek and Roman with Persian influence, and a Jewish Pharisee, educated and trained in Jewish law and tradition by Gamaliel, in Jerusalem. Paul was a cultural chameleon, in the world, but not of it. He tried fervently to reach the Jews in every city he visited.
In Philippi, his teaching landed him in jail. Later, Paul was dismissed by the council of elders at Mars Hill in Athens. To most Greeks, he probably seemed like just another sophist looking to cash in through his special knowledge.
But the Thessalonians were different. The community there embraced Paul's message and were transformed. They heard God's voice.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How often do you buy in to the ranting of others? Do you think critically about what others may be saying in Jesus’ name? How do you discern God’s voice amidst the noise of so many human voices?
PRAYER: Jesus prayed, “I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.” (John 17:14–19)
Each day, I ask to hear your voice. Give me the discernment I need to follow your leading. Keep me from being distracted by other people’s good intentions that may lead me away from your voice. Help me to follow your truth and not their agenda. Amen.
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