they covered their ears...
Here's Stephen in Acts 7: "You men wo are stiff necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always reisisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. Which on of the prophets did you fathers not persecute?..."
Here's the educated religious elite:
Now when they heard this, there were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him...(and they) cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse.
Does anyone else find the dark humor in this?
"You never listen!" comes the complaint?
"Oh yeah... well... damn you..." (sounds of gnashing teeth) (loud sounds of 'crying out') (covering of the ears so as not to hear anymore from this one whose face shone like an angel) (sound of rocks hitting flesh and bone as your victim prays for God to forgive you).
When someone accuses you of not listening and your response is to cover your ears, it seems that the argument is over, and we've a pretty good idea who is standing on the side of truth.
This is all very important actually, because Acts 7 is a "tale of two versions" of the Old Testament narrative; one by the religious establishment, and the other by a waiter who belongs to a new cult. The establishment has a lot of things going for it - seminary education; letters behind their names; authority in a long line of gatekeepers who guarded the truth; and and access to a few rocks.
The other guy has come out of nowhere, and through numerous conversations is giving rise to the notion that existing traditions might not be as important as originally thought, and that the temple might not be the only place in the world where God shows up.
When confronted, he tells the same Old Testament story that the good 'ol boys club clearly loves, only he puts a different spin on it, indicating that the narrative is really talking less about how favored Israel is, how victimized they've been, and how holy their temple is, and more about how Israel consistently rejected God's leaders when those leaders called for movement.
...and now, along comes Jesus. Of course. Rejected. It's in keeping with the theme.
His version makes a lot of sense and would be easy to believe, except the guys rejecting the truth had long robes and fancy hats, degrees, and used the very same Bible that foretold the coming of the Messiah they crucified. In other words, they had all the commonly accepted signs of being holy.
I wonder, as I read this, how often I cover my ears today? Do I cover them when a libertarian tells me that God favors deregulation of all government entities? I cringe, but will I at least listen, and try to hear something meaningful before firing back, or do I cover my ears? Do I cover my ears when the right says that women shouldn't be in leadership and that there are clearly established gender roles in the home? Do I cover my ears when the left says that maybe it's high time we supported gay people being in covenant relationships rather than just shouting at them, and they offer me their interpretation of the Bible to prove it? Will I listen, or label, and cover my ears?
All through the history of God's people, God has had to peel away blinders that have prevented us from seeing right and living well, whether it was freeing us from dietary constraints in Acts 10, or freeing us from 'Biblically sanctioned' slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries.
James says we should be "quick to hear and slow to speak"
Jesus' complaint with the religious establishment was that though they had eyes, they didn't see.
What? Are you afraid I'm advocating an abdication of convictions? Far from it. In fact, by carefully considering what differing views have to say, and offer, I find myself continuing to grow more and more into what I consider to be more solidly grounded convictions, precisely because they been nuanced, altered, tested, and strengthened through engaging conversations with those who think differently.
When I listen, really listen, I not only learn; I dignify the other. This too is vital.
I wish I had time to offer you some links for this post, but it's a very busy week. Maybe you could share some verses to which I'm referring in the comments section, along with your answer to the question: Do you think evangelicals cover their ears too much? Why or why ont?