In an earlier post I mentioned that a first meaning of words translated “obey” in the Bible is “to listen” and “to be attentive, as one listening for a knock at the door.”
As I’ve thought about the relationship between listening and obeying, I’ve imagined hearing a knock at the door in the middle of the night and hearing someone ordering me to”open the door!”
The possible scenarios on the other side of that door are important to think about.
I’ve also mentioned that, when trying to listen to what others are saying about the Bible, it has been helpful for me to think in terms of whether implications being claimed for the Scriptures are (1) necessary, (2) probable, (3) possible, (4) improbable, or (5) impossible implications.
Together we’ve seen on any number of subjects that we have found strong unity on issues whenever we have been able to agree on a necessary implication of the Bible.
In that light, I thought it might be interesting to take a single text and think about the different kinds of implications that can be drawn from it.
For example, from the New Testament letter of James:
My dear brothers and sisters, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry” (James 1:19).
Taking into consideration the context in which this is found, what are some possible, necessary, and impossible implications of this text?
For example: What if I said with an authoritative tone:
“One implication of this text is that, in any given conversation, a follower of Jesus should never be the first to speak?”
Or, “One implication of this text is that we should always speak at a slow pace, pausing between phrases, drawing out our words so that our mouth doesn’t get ahead of our mind?”
Or, “Here an Apostle of Jesus means that in any conversation we are probably going to find something that will anger us!”
Or, “We need to listen carefully so that, if we hear anything that we recognize as the word of God, we can respond to what he is asking of us.”
Can you see why it is so important to test our assumptions when we are trying to come together around the ideas that can so easily separate us from one another, from the church, and from our neighbors?