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St Johns Southgate

05 May 2016

It happened with Kevin Rudd, it happened with Julia Gillard, it happened with Kevin Rudd (no, this is not a typo), it happened with Tony Abbott, and it already seems to be happening with Malcolm Turnbull. I can’t seem to listen to our political leaders. Of course, I hear them – I hear noise when they’re speaking on the TV or the radio – but I just can’t seem to truly listen to what they have to say.

It’s not for lack of political interest, but in a media-saturated world where the pretested 10-second grabs that stay on-message are broadcast and re-broadcast then tweeted and repeated, it’s all become white noise to me.

There was a time when if the Prime Minister was addressing the nation, I would stop and listen intently to every word, considering possible motives and consequences. But now, with endless doorstop interviews, press conferences and policy announcements, the saturation seems to have clogged my ears.

It may sound like an oxymoron, but I believe that a little silence makes for the most effective communication. Giving time for gravity to be calculated, for the state of affairs to sink in and then opening one’s mouth can have a much greater impact than the quickest of pre-emptive strikes.

We’ve all known someone – perhaps an old sage – who sits quietly, patiently and listens more than they speak. But when they do open their mouth, gold pours forth. When people like that speak, you sit up and pay attention.

Jesus of Nazareth was one such sage who took his time, even when people desperately wanted to hear what he had to say. Jesus allowed dreams to be dreamed, thoughts to be crystallised and then he delivered the story. No spin. No public relations team. Jesus offered clarity, insight and most of all, startling and confronting truth that didn’t always bow to popular opinion.

One day, Jesus and a few of his followers went up onto a mountain to pray and the most extraordinary thing happened. His appearance changed and his clothes shone like lightning. The voice of God the Father then spoke from the clouds, saying, “This is my son, whom I have chosen, listen to him!”

Straight after those words were spoken Jesus returned to his normal-looking self. This was certainly worthy of an impromptu press conference. But even though he had an audience ready to listen, Jesus didn’t say much of anything at that point.

Jesus broke with convention, he dispensed with the predictable and still managed to reveal his gracious nature and divine love with impeccable timing. Jesus was able to do it this way because he wasn’t trying to raise his own stock.

He didn’t need a bump in the polls or a spike in his approval rating. Jesus didn’t compromise, or go against his better judgement, he just told the truth plainly and let it be – even though it cost him his life.

If you’re struggling to hear anything meaningful and seeking some truth, try listening to Jesus. You might just find the distortion clears and you can tune in to a message that resonates – one of hope, joy, peace and community.

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