Double Listening:  Word & World

From an Interview with John Stott in 2001:

Dr. Lindsley: What advice have you for us in learning to communicate across cultures? 

Dr. Stott: James’s instruction ‘let everybody be quick to listen’ (1:19) is of enormous importance. In fact I believe in the valuable discipline of ‘double listening’ (listening both to the Word of God and to the voices of the modern world, in order to relate the one to the other). 

It is a mark of our fallen self-centeredness that we assume our culture (the way we think, speak, eat, play, laugh, dress) to be the norm and other people’s abnormal. But there is no cultural norm, and we need to cultivate the humility to learn from other people’s cultures. 

We are fortunate nowadays that cross-cultural travel is continuously increasing, so that people from far away may now be living in our neighborhood and attending our school, college, club or church. This provides us with a wonderful opportunity to develop deep cross-cultural friendships. Such a friendship is the best possible context in which to share Christ.

So, we need to learn how to do Double Listening.  To hear God in his Word and to hear the world around us.  To have intimacy with God and intimacy with those around us.  Those around us certainly are first and foremost our families and close friends and coworkers and neighbors but remember that Jesus says simply being in peaceful dialogue with your "own people" is nothing more than what the "pagans" do (Matthew 5:47).  We need to be able to listen cross-cultural, economic, educational, age, gender, and other barriers.  

Taking language from our Be A Tree approach to the Bible:  Our goal is to delight in God's word and now we must also delight in those around us.  This is tricky because for the immature it is easy for our roots of our own identity and the nutrition of our inner being to start to come from what those around us are feeding on...or even to feed on them and their acceptance.  This is a fast path to worldliness and is back on the track of Psalm 1:1...walking, standing and sitting with the wicked and becoming like chaff.  

For anyone interested in interning and building a community of formation that focuses on Double Listening (Word/Spirit & People) please read Immersion 3X Austin or contact me about me coaching a community in another location.