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Earning the RIGHT to be heard:

Most students don’t go up to adults and say “will you be my friend, and please tell me everything you know.” If we are being honest with ourselves, adults don’t say that either. Some may even get offended when others try to speak into our lives thinking “if I wanted your advise on life I would of asked”.

We live in a world that is full of information. It is being thrown at us through almost every avenue possible. Some of it sticks, but most of it goes through one ear and out the other. We need to fight to be heard, fight louder then the noice of social media, peers, and society in general. Earning the right to be heard is not always easy. Some people will blow you off before you can even say “hi” to them. What I mean by “earning the right” is gaining respect, respect that leads to them trusting the information you are sharing. Hearing what a person is saying and taking it to heart means having respect for that individual.

If some random dude came up to me and stated that I need to repent of my sin and ask Jesus into my heart, I probably would not pay a whole lot attention to that guy. After all, he doesn’t know me, he doesn’t have that right to tell me how to live my life.  I think a lot of us would say something similar! Yet when we think about sharing our faith, we just go up to a stranger and do just that. If we really want to see people transformed by Jesus Christ we have to take His lead. When we look at Jesus’ life He did something that is so basic, but at the same time so counter cultural. Jesus earned the right to be heard by treating people that were considered different, like normal people. And instead of judging their behavior, He got to know them. After He earned their respect, He would share with them true hope.

Let’s take a look at one of my favorite stories in John chapter four. This chapter talks about the women at the well. This story speaks volumes to me. Jesus was not scared to do something that the rest of the world was scared to do. He not only talked to a women, (in that day, this was considered not cool), but she was a Samaritan (Jews and Samaritans did not care for each other back then). He did things that would be frowned upon by culture standards. He also did a few things that I think are just beautiful: Jesus treated her like a human, with dignity and respect. He did not see her as less then Himself, and He simply had a conversation with her. In fact, in verse 9 the women says “you are a Jew and I am a Samaritan women. How can you ask me for a drink?” She was blown away that a Jewish man would even ask her for a favor, let alone just speak to her. A little further on in this story Jesus reveals to her that He knows that she has more than one husband. In fact, she has five, and the one she is currently with is not her husband. Instead of condemning her right then and there, He comforts her by saying a day is coming when all Samaritans will worship with Jews, in both spirit and truth to the one true God. Only a few verses later, Jesus reveals to her that He is the Messiah. How beautiful is this picture of love and for others.

I work with teenagers, and I must say this is an area that I get a lot of “God bless you”, “They need it” or “I could never do that” from people. These phrase really say to me, “You are crazy, but I am glad someone is doing it cause I would never want do that.” I sometimes want to scream out, “they are no different then you or I”. Yes, they are sometime immature, and awkward, but to be honest, so are adults. If we treat people the way Jesus did, I think our gospel message would be much more clear. At TNT, we are seeing young lives changed because we are not following our culture’s model, but we are doing what Jesus did. Jesus earned the right to be heard by treating others with respect and dignity and not condemning them for their sins but rather offered hope. That is how Christ’s message can truly be heard.

I would encourage you to do a few things. First, read John 4 and the story of the women at the well. This is a powerful story of how Christ showed loved to someone in a time when it was thought to be impossible to love someone like her. Secondly I would look at where you are and the influence you have, then go treat someone with love and respect, not judging them by what they have done. Lastly earn the right to be heard by spending time with them. Your message of hope might be that much stronger when you combined it with love and respect.

 

-Kurtis Zimmerman

Warwick District Coordinator