“The strongest influences in my life are always whomever I love. Whomever I love and am with most of the time, or whomever I remember most vividly. I think that’s true of everyone, don’t you?” — Tennessee Williams

Genesis 3
Matthew 4:1-11
John 10:1-6

Eve heard the serpent speak. The problem wasn’t the hearing. The problem lay in her choosing to listen. Thus, the serpent won the right to deceive her. Every person’s story since entails a competition of voices.  To what voice will we bend our ear, listen and believe?

“A Beautiful Mind” depicts this struggle for a person’s mind. John Nash spends years wrestling with the question of which voices tell him the truth and which stem from illusion. The latter voices never fully disappear; rather, Nash learns to discern the voices’ source and veracity. He privileges those stemming from truth and love over those of delusion and deception. He does this every day.

Voices guide us through our lives. They tell us how to manage our social careers through the brutal halls of grade school, how to move ahead in the work world, how to provide for our appetites, and how to appease an upset conscience.

They tell us to work harder to achieve, to make more money, to wear certain clothes, to treat enemies with contempt, to plan our lives, and to consider this life our own.

Jesus objects: “Those voices are serpents in the garden. I tell you that you should believe, give to the poor, stop worrying about what you will wear, cease obsessing over appearance, love your enemies, deny yourself, and take up your cross. Listen to my voice, for it is the one that gives life.”

We have choices to make every day. To whom will we listen? Cosmo, Maxim, MTV, Fortune magazine and Madison Avenue? Do they want what’s best for us, or just our money? Because we hear them everywhere.

Jesus calls us to deny these voices, except for his. He’s asking us to watch for truth and love, even when it comes from the vitriol-spewing atheist. He also asks us to watch for deception, even when it comes from the preachers, teachers and claimants to absolute truth.

He’s asking for a shrewd and ever-present vigilance. He asks a lot. But in return, he tells us we’ll find truth, we’ll find life, we’ll find the way.

To whom do you listen and why?
How have those voices shaped your identity and purpose?
Who do you believe speaks from a place of truth and love?  How do you know?


© 2006