Luke 10:16 “He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
This is a very familiar verse, but I just noticed a nuance in the Japanese that I find very interesting. Rendering it back into English, it says, “A person who listens to you is a person who listens to Me,” and so on for the other two similar phrases. That might seem to be identical, but to me it corrects the impression some people seem to have that they are always speaking the words of God, so you’d better listen up. Rather, this is talking about the personality, the attitude, of the listener. This wasn’t to puff up the disciples who were going out as Jesus’ representatives, it was telling them that the reception they got would be indicative of how those people would receive God Himself. When we read this today, we need to check our own attitude first, to see if we are genuinely receptive to God and what He is saying to us. Then, we need to be perceptive of the attitudes of the people around us. We aren’t to give up on unreceptive people, but we are to focus our energies on those who are receptive. That said, we need to be very careful to listen to what God says about people, rather than judging them by our feelings. One of my seminary professors talked about when he was a pastor, going around door-to-door to invite people to his church, and one man responded by spitting in his face – and it wasn’t just saliva. However, God indicated to the pastor that this indicated the man had strong feelings, and those feelings just needed to be corrected. The pastor persisted, and eventually the spitter not only got saved, he became a deacon in the church! The professor told us this to say that indifference is a worse obstacle than active opposition. That’s a lesson I think we all need to remember.
This verse is particularly pointed for anyone ministering in Japan. I think the biggest issue from the human perspective is that Japanese have trouble distinguishing faith from religion from culture. Since very few people have personal faith, they see Buddhism and Shinto as being part of being Japanese, and the idea of becoming “less Japanese” is scary and/or repulsive to them. Active faith seems cultish to them, and they’ve had some pretty scary encounters with religious cults. That is very much of a challenge to me, but I think the simple fact of my longevity here has had a favorable impact. I don’t think people are afraid of me! That said, the issue becomes one of felt need, the awareness that their choices here determine their eternal destiny. All I can do is pray for them and keep speaking the truth in love. Trying to beat them over the head with Scripture is definitely not the answer! God knows their hearts far better than I do, and I need to depend on Him.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for what You did in the service yesterday, and throughout the day. It was rather strange to only be responsible for interpreting Cathy’s testimony and giving the benediction. Thank You that people stepped up and took part. I pray that we would indeed be Christ-centered and be delivered from being pastor-centered, as so many churches are. May we indeed be the agents that You desire and intend, so that those whose hearts are open may indeed hear and receive the Gospel through us, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!