Know what your opponent believes

A typical day at the mission brings thoughts of all shapes and sizes running in my head. I debate politics with one of the managers on the issue of 9/11 and how the government covers it up. Later in the day, conversations with the clients range from their (or mine) past history, their current relationship with God (or mine), and some small chit-chat. Then finally on the way home with Nate our conversations cover just war theory, theology, unjust laws, evangelism, music and culture.

Not so today. I was busy preparing for meetings that I had today (which went well). But toward the end of the day I spent a decent amount of time with my homeless friends. One of them had a tract from the Jehovah's Witness. As soon as I saw the word Watch (from Watchtower) I knew what it was - Satan's sermons. I have it placed beside me right now, and read through it. I did not share the gospel with this man at that moment, instead I am focusing on the trust factor. So I spend most of the time listening to him and others, learning about their beliefs and praying over them in my own time.

There are times I want to jump up and down when I hear certain blasphemous ideals, and I restrain myself but let people know where I stand. At the mission I am known as the young Calvinist who grew up in the country who is just now experiencing city life. (Sounds right huh?) One of my bosses does not believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, but holds that the original manuscripts were free from error. I listen to this, I hear why she holds that men brought their context and culture to bear on their transcription. I see the difference after I listen.... I trust in God's sovereignty over man's radical depravity. God kept His word from falling into Satan's grasp. (Otherwise we might be reading the New World Translation - Jehovah's False Witnesses - instead of the New International Version).

Listening is key to understanding what the opposition holds. I figure that is something my generation is much more willing to do (look at the Emerging Church's conversation - we see it everywhere). Before I started working this summer I was reading a book by Harvie Conn and I shared my thoughts with my mother about it. Commenting on Conn's thoughts she remarked, "we can basically say that not listening is the cause to every major personal, relationship and family conflict.) But as you and I listen.... above all remember..."He who has ears to hear, let Him hear what the Spirit [of God] says to the seven churches."

We listen in order to share the gospel of Jesus Christ - which cannot be done without knowing God's word or without love to the person and friend we are talking to. Without love we are like clanging gongs.