Chris Folmsbee is Resurrection’s Director of Discipleship Ministries. He is the author of several books, with an extensive background in applying principles of spiritual growth to real life. He, his wife Gina and their family have been attending Resurrection since 2008.
What’s worse than having a conversation with someone who shares a different perspective on a particular issue, and realizing they are not really listening to you? I’ll tell you what’s worse…having a conversation with someone and discovering that they are merely pretending to listen to your views, convictions or beliefs. Discovering that they have already made up their mind that you are wrong and they are right.
This is what Paul faces in our reading today from Acts 28:17-31. The Jewish leaders in Rome are not willing to listen to Paul’s gospel—a gospel of salvation, declaring that the hope of Israel has been fulfilled in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-20). The Jewish leaders Paul assembled in Rome indicated that they were ready to hear his views, but in reality they were not. They were not open-minded, as they tried to appear. As a result, Paul was able to convince a few people that Jesus was the Messiah, but most of the Jewish leaders would not believe. They came into the conversation with their minds already made up, and they would not accept Jesus as the Messiah.
As the adage goes, there are things we know, things we don’t know and things we don’t know we don’t know. Every day I learn how much I don’t know about life and faith. This realization produces a curiosity within me that compels me to seek answers to my questions. For me, many of the meaningful times of learning and discovery come in the context of a conversation where listening is more than a mere idea—it is a practiced virtue.
I pray that each of us would stretch beyond a closed mind. I pray that we will learn to listen well—opening our hearts, minds and hands to new ideas and practices that allow us to more faithfully live out the mission of God in the world around us.
Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.