Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Rev. 2:29)
Someone close to me comes from a family with hearing difficulties. Even with the use of hearing aids, we find it difficult to understand each other at times. Sitting around the kitchen table, the conversation can get quite loud and confused. Frustrated that he wasn’t getting his point across, a family member once exclaimed, “Oh, you’re all deaf and dumb!” When someone responded, “No thanks, I don’t want any gum,” everyone laughed—but not being able to hear isn’t funny. It can cause depression, social anxiety, and a general withdrawal from communication and relationships.
In the Gospels, Jesus quite often ended his teaching with the admonition for people to use their eyes and ears to heed his warnings (see Matt. 11:15). He worked within the rhetorical tradition of the great prophets like Isaiah (6:10) and Jeremiah (5:21), and it is not surprising that Christ used this same language in his message to the seven churches. In each of those city churches, those with ears are told to “hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 2:29). Mere physical hearing is not enough. The Spirit must give the hearer understanding of the message.
These messages have little benefit if they are not received and obeyed. Since everyone has ears, the instructive words to the church are meant to include everyone, but it requires a focused spiritual listening as well.
Ask Christ to help you hear his messages to you.
Rich Eckley is professor emeritus of theology at Houghton College (NY). He is an ordained Wesleyan minister and enjoys—with his wife, Lynn—entertaining four active grandchildren.
© 2022 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.