I'm kind of hard headed, I will freely admit that. I pretty much do my own thing, and I guess I have since high school, at least. There are a few people I'll listen to, but not many, especially when it comes to advice (and you know who you are), so sometimes I've learned my lessons the extremely hard way. It has cost me dearly at times, and I'm sure it will again.
But I'm not alone, and for that I give thanks. I know a lot of hard headed people, and most of them I love dearly in spite of their stubbornness. Still, I just can't figure it out. The doctor says, "Quit smoking or you're going to die." That sounds simple enough, but do we listen? Yeah, AFTER the heart attack. The doctor says, "You've got to get some exercise or you're going to die." But do we listen? Yeah, after we've been diagnosed with any number of diseases related to obesity (which, by the way, I could drop 30 pounds and it wouldn't hurt me any). A friend says, "You might not want to say that to them, it could really strain your relationship." Do we listen? Yeah, after we've had to apologize for saying it anyhow.
I don't know if it's because we have all the answers already, or if we know what's best for us better than anyone else, or if we just don't hear sometimes. That's usually what happens around here. My girls just don't hear me, or just don't listen. And I have to say, I hate being ignored. But that's just me.
This morning, I was reading from Jeremiah. It's a really long book, and Jeremiah had a really long career as a prophet. I don't know how many different kings came and went while he was doing what he did, I guess I could look it up, but there was one king in particular that just would not listen. Jeremiah told him that if he just did what he told him to do, everything would work out pretty much ok. It wouldn't be perfect, but it would have certainly been better than what actually happened.
Maybe it was ego, or bad information from someone closer to the king than this crazy prophet. Maybe the king had hoped Jeremiah was wrong, and that what he had told him would happen really wouldn't. But it did.
All he had to do was surrender to the Babylonians and he would have lived. Now, true, this wouldn't have been the ideal situation, but it would have been better than watching your sons executed, having your eyes gouged out, and being dragged off as a prisoner of war, but hey, he had a chance. He just didn't listen.
We don't always listen either. Jesus said, "I am the way." We think we can get there by keeping traditions. Jesus said, "Feed my sheep." We set criteria to determine which sheep we feed and which ones we don't. Jesus said, "Love each other as I have loved you." We'll love you, but you need to change clothes and stop living like you are. It's really not that tough, you know, what he's told us to do and become, and how he taught us to live. It's really not. It's actually kind of cool to see the hungry walk away with food, or the broken lift their heads for the first time in years, or the thirsty find something to drink, or the hopeless find hope. And all we have to do is listen.
I don't know. I wonder if Jesus ever looks at us and says, "Why won't they listen?"