What it actually means is that we need to invest more time in
Listening as an Act of Love John 4:7-26
developing the kinds of relationships that occur when you are regularly meeting together in a Christ Care Group.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, it was last week Sunday that we started our fall sermon series “The Habit of Meeting Together”
Relationships that are developed through sharing and praying
but this Sunday is when we officially kick-off all of our ministry
with each other, listening to God speak through the scripture
programs and actually start to meet together again after our
together, holding each other accountable to be obedient to
last long week-end of the summer.
what God says and finding ways to serve others with Christ’s love together…
And the reason we’re focusing on “meeting together” this month is to help promote and encourage as many of us as
Ideally – this is what a Christ Care Group is all about, and last
possible to become regularly involved in a Christ Care Group.
week we heard how meeting together around these activities can help us, and others experience all sorts of wonderful
Because as I mentioned last week, this is the most effective
benefits in our faith – ideally speaking…
and efficient way for Valleyview to work on the areas that the NCD survey has identified we need to become healthier in.
But brothers and sisters, the reality is that we are all fallen, sinful human beings – saved by grace to be sure – but still in
You may remember from last week, or from our Annual
the midst of being transformed by the Holy Spirit and the
Growth meeting that our lowest quality characteristic this
awkward truth is that when you put 5 or 6 or 7 of us Christians
time around was “Loving Relationships,” and as I’ve said
together in a small group, and we meet together on a regular
before this doesn’t mean we’re an unfriendly church, who
basis – it can kind of end up like a Reality TV show at times.
need to work on hospitality. Far from it…
And it’s important to acknowledge this friends, because the
If the group is able to survive the Testing stage, then they
fact is that a group of 5-7 people doesn’t develop close
enter into a fruitful stage which they begin to Undertake
Christian community that is effective and efficient right away
ministry opportunities to each other and outside the group.
simply by virtue of meeting together. Then the goals of the Christ Care Ministry start to become Every group needs to work at this in practical ways when they
Realized in this group and the broader church starts to see this
meet together, and every group needs time to go through the
occurring as well through their service.
different stages of small group development. And finally, this realization of undertaking ministry results in The first few times you meet everyone is going to be on their
growth in the group which necessitates Expansion, meaning
best behavior – this is the Meeting phase.
the larger group becomes two smaller groups, because a small group – is a small group.
After people start to get comfortable with each other they begin to Ask and challenge what this group is really about in
So this is the process that a group 5 – 7 Christians need to go
discussions or in the suggested activities for the group.
through in order to become a m.a.tu.r.e group, and over the next three Sundays we’re going to look at some specific skills
Then either overtly or passively people’s behavior will adjust
which we can employ to help our groups reach that maturity,
from and they will begin to Test what the group is really about
and will help us as a church become healthier in our Loving
and test the leader of that group.
So today we’re going to look at Listening – as an act of Love.
Now brothers and sisters the first thing we need to
Have you ever been heard but not understood, or even worse
acknowledge is that there is difference between listening and
– heard but miss-understood!? That can be very frustrating.
hearing – do you hear what I’m saying? I’m sure you have - especially if you are married and have For example a father might say to his young son, “Son, if you
children.☺ And these relationship contexts certainly
want people to say you’re a good boy, you have to take
demonstrate why listening to each other is so important,
responsibility. Now, I want to raise you right, so you’d better
because without it relationships don’t function very well.
finish your chores, or you won’t get your allowance. In fact they tend to break down, and in the scripture passage But his son isn’t really listening and only hears, “Son, blah blah
we read this morning we see that the women whom Jesus met
blah, you’re a good boy, blah blah blah, I want to raise blah
at the well had experienced this kind of relationship break-
blah blah, your allowance!
down at least five times.
Now according to communication experts and psychologists,
Now, it’s pure speculation that her marriages had all ended
hearing is what happens when sound waves register on our
because of poor listening skills, but in my pastoral and
eardrums - but listening is what happens when you pay
personal experience I’ve seen that poor listening skills are a
attention to the meaning or significance of what you are
big contributor to broken relationships and so I’m sure that it
may have played a part for her as it has for many others.
So friends, have you ever experienced being heard but not
But, what can happen when we employ good listening skills in
paid attention to?
And let’s back the truck up a bit more… and ask do we even
So looking at this situation we see Jesus encountering the
know what good listening skills are? And if not where would
Samaritan woman at about 6pm in the evening after a long
we learn them?
day of traveling.
You see friends; our ability to hear doesn’t necessarily mean
Jesus was tired and hungry and thirsty, now I don’t know
that we know how to listen.
about you but when I’m tired and hungry and thirsty I’m not the best listener… because it takes energy and effort to listen.
But, because God has created this world to work in a certain way, we can study things like communication and we can gain
Yet despite all this, Jesus is willing to do the hard work of
wisdom and insight into God’s laws for listening, and while it’s
listening and engages this outsider in conversation. In fact he
not the main point of this passage - we do see some of this
leverages the conditions as a context to begin a conversation
communication wisdom reflected in Jesus’ encounter with the
with her. “Can I have a drink?” He asks.
woman at the well. She is startled by His request - because Jews don’t talk to Samaritans, nor would a travelling teacher talk to a woman.
And not only does it benefit us to discover and use good listening skills, (husbands if you want to score points with your wives and kids pay attention) but using them in our
So, you have a Jewish rabbi, politely requesting a drink from a
relationships with others is a concrete, tangible way in which
Samaritan woman, this sort of thing never happens.
we can obey Christ’s command to love others as He has loved So she responds and wants to know why Jesus is asking this of
us, just as He showed God’s love to the Samaritan woman.
Now, at this point Jesus could heard her response and just
as people speak to us? Are we listening for that which might
responded in line with the facts of the situation. “Look lady,
reveal an opening for us to show God’s love?
I’m tired and thirsty and it not really a big deal who you are and I am, nobody is around so just give me a drink ok!”
Maybe it’s a emotional, physical or financial need they might have? Maybe they are going through some trouble?
But, Jesus’ intentions towards people are to minister to them, and so as he listens to her response, he discerns an
It could be they are searching for an answers, or most likely
opportunity to minister to her. So he responds to her
they just need someone – a fellow Christian – to really just
concern about his identity by dropping hints about who He is.
listen to them.
“If you really knew who was asking you for a drink, you’d be
So what are our intentions and goals as we listen?
asking him for one…” (vs.10) I can tell you that in Christ Care groups the purpose of Brothers and sisters, what are our intentions towards each
listening as we meet together is help to draw people out, to
other? How do we respond to the people who are speaking to
get to know them as they share their thoughts and feelings –
you? Have we simply heard them or have we listened to
because that’s how Christ cared.
them? Please notice that in his conversation with the woman at the Do we simply stick to the factual exchange of information, or
well Jesus didn’t try to solve her problems or smooth them
are we listening for the opportunities to minster to each other
over, e.g “You don’t have a husband…well this is what you should do….” or
“Hey, its no big deal that I’m a Jew and you’re a Samaritan
Or, if I smooth over someone’s troubling situation or troubled
woman, forget about it, relax…”
feelings, because I think they should try to stay positive… they don’t feel listened to or loved…
Friends, it is a huge temptation for us to do these things when Instead they hear this , “I can’t handle your painful feelings or
situation, it makes me uncomfortable. Please don’t bring it up.”
I know how easy it can be for me to be listening to someone and before they’ve finished speaking I’ve already diagnosed
So brothers and sisters, if we are doing this then how can we
what’s wrong and I have a solution to fix it.
be obedient to the command in scripture to bear one Now part of that goes along with being a guy - but what I’ve
another’s burdens? (Gal 6:2)
come to realize and what I to be constantly reminded of this – is that when I do this the person I’m listening to doesn’t feel
And if I look a bit deeper when I catch myself doing this I have
listened to, or loved…
to admit in partly because I’m not really wanting to take the time to listen because I’m being selfish and self-centered.
Instead they hear this, “I don’t really have time or patience to listen to you, I’m going to solve your problem quickly and get
But thanks be to God that we can confess and ask for Christ’s
this over with.
forgiveness, and when we pray we know Christ is listening to us. He’s doesn’t burden us with suggestions to fix ourselves, or minimize our troubles and feelings, but He really engages us and offers us the forgiveness we need.
So as we remember how Christ listens to us and loves us in
And, later on in the story we learn the knowledge Jesus
this way, the Holy Spirit works in us to enable us to love others
received from the Holy Spirit that she was living with someone
in this way as well.
and had been married five times was the proof which allowed her to believe He was the messiah.
He helps us listen to them patiently, accept their raw and uncomfortable feelings and emotions and not try to fix things
In fact we also see that “many of the Samaritans believed in
or control things in our response.
Him because of her testimony, “He told me everything I ever did” (John 4:39)
You see when we listen to people without trying to figure out how to solve things, or smooth over their troubles we also are
It’s amazing what the Holy Spirit can do in and through us
able to listen to what the Holy Spirit wants to do in the
when we are listening.
situation as well. Jesus ministered to this woman, and through her He So, when Jesus did this, the Holy Spirit revealed to Him that
ministered to many other people from her town, all because
this woman had been divorced five times and because Jesus
shared this information with the woman other doors in the But please remember – listening is more than passive hearing
conversation opened up which allowed Jesus to further minister to her and go deeper.
Listening is hard work, it takes time, effort, concentration and Ultimately he was able to reveal Himself as the messiah to
these things are often in short supply for most of us with our
busy lives and hectic schedules.
Listening not only requires hearing the words people say but
We need to get together – and do the hard work of listening,
also catching the non-verbal cues in their body language.
as an act of love.
We need to be fully engaged in listening; actively giving
Through this we will discover opportunities to minister to each
responses that show we are following along.
other and to the community around us.
Asking questions for clarification and responding in order to
Through listening we will make space for the Holy Spirit to
affirm the other person.
speak to us and give us wisdom and insight to empower that ministry.
These are all ways that we can show our love, which comes from Christ’s love, for other people in listening to them.
And through listening, we are responding in obedience to our Lord’s command - “Love one another. As I have loved you, so
Brothers and sisters, we want to see our Christ Care ministry
you must love one another. By this everyone will know that
flourish and grow, and we want to see this ministry help
you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John13:34-35)
Valleyview become even healthier in our Loving Relationships…
But, that won’t happen automatically by just getting together… as important as that is…