Listening in tongues

Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?” — Acts 2. 7-8

Maybe the miracle on that Pentecost day was simply that Jesus’ followers were given the ability to understand foreigners. Don’t underestimate the miraculousness of this. We usually don’t listen even to people who speak our own language, let alone a foreign one, enough to really understand them. Maybe the disciples simply gave enough attention to the foreigners that they came to understand what spoke to them. That might have taken longer than just rushing out into the street– but it’s no less impressive. Maybe the real Pentecostal gift is not one of speaking at all, but of listening.

We normally see things according to our own understanding, without taking into account other people’s experience or perspective. But when we listen to their story from their point of view and honor their experience, we learn a new language of reality. It’s like listening in tongues.

The Holy Spirit does not necessarily empower us to prophesy by doing all the talking, being right and convincing others. It enables us to listen, to receive, to connect deeply enough with people, even people who are very different from us, that we can discover what speaks to them. As Paul says, God searches our hearts with the mind of the Spirit (Romans 8.27). Listen in the power of the Holy Spirit. You maybe surprised at how many people there are for whom it will be truly prophetic.


Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding light

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