God is speaking – we really should listen by Cathi Johnson


In 2009, the world received a shock.

A woman of a certain age, with frizzy hair, caterpillar eyebrows, dark hose under a light dress, stood on a stage and expressed her desire to become a professional singer.  The judges on Britains Got Talent – and apparently the entire live audience (dare I say all of us at home, as well?) – rolled their eyes at this dumpy creature.

Then Susan Boyle opened her mouth and sang with the voice of an angel.  The world was stunned.  By the end of her performance, the audience and judges were on their feet, and a star had, indeed, been born.

But seriously, couldn’t someone have done her hair first?

It’s Advent season, and the Christian world is preparing for the coming of the Christ child.  We all know the story about Jesus being born in a stable, no room in the inn, humble parents, not the triumphant king the Jewish people were awaiting.

But before Jesus comes, there is one who, with a voice crying out in the wilderness, prepares the way.  John the Baptizer.  He of the camel hair and leather belt.  Eating locusts* and wild honey.  Traversing the desert.  Probably poor hygiene.  Perhaps bad breath.  Crazy eyes, some might say.

Automatically, I’m looking the other way and discounting what he has to say.  You, too, right?

And what about the young man in church who has tattoos and piercings?  Put him alongside a man in a suit and tie, and we know who will gain the most respect.  But the tattooed guy is the genius dot.com millionaire who tithes and supports numerous charities; suit-n-tie man is a con artist.

On a recent Sunday, my pastor, Rev. Birgitte French, asked this question:  “When you look at someone like John the Baptizer, how will you share Jesus with him?”  Ouch.  Got me to thinking.  But then her next question was a stunner:  “Why would we assume he did not know Jesus already?”  As though the clothing makes the Christian.

There is a story of a pastor who entered the doors of his new church dressed as a homeless man.  It is not until the end of the service that he reveals himself.  Some are ashamed.  Others are excited!

Will we recognize Jesus when we see him on the street?  In the pew next to us?  Will he be dressed in rags or finest cloth?  Will he have tattoos (gasp)?  Will he have ungroomed eyebrows but the spirit of an angel?  Are we ready to help the least of them, in Jesus’ name?

I guess the lesson is to listen to God’s voice speaking, without judging the speaker.  I hope you’ll join me in this worthy goal.

*I was privileged to Walk in the Footsteps of Jesus in December 2012.  I learned from the tour guide that there is a Locust Tree native to that region of the world, which produces a fruit.  For many Christians there, this is the locust to which the Bible refers – not the 8-legged variety.

To re-live the stunning moment with Susan Boyle from 2009, click this link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxPZh4AnWyk