Reflections: Voices

There are a lot of voices in the world today. Some are wise, informative and helpful. Most are driven by an agenda and/or mandate to sell you something. A study in 2007 found that Americans have gone from being exposed to about 500 ads a day back in the 1970’s to as many as 5,000 a day today. It seems like the goal of most marketers and advertisers nowadays is to cover every blank space with a brand logo or a promotion or an advertisement. Does 5,000 seem like a stretch. Look for a moment at the page you are reading this on (whether digital or print) and count the adds. That’s a lot of voices trying to tell you something.

Now of course advertising in and of itself is not bad. You could say it even provides an important role of informing us what is going on in our community and of services we may need. With advertisements, it is usually pretty easy to know their agenda: they want to sell us something. The hard part comes when discerning who to trust in the voices we listen to on the news, radio, newspaper, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, “opinion news”, etc.

As a country we seem to have largely given up discerning the messages we hear, instead opting to only listen to those voices that confirm what we already think or believe. As followers of Jesus, we have a call to listen to our shepherd’s voice and not get distracted by the talking wolves around us (John 10). Jesus’ voice calls us to love the Lord our God and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22). Jesus’ voice calls us to deny ourselves and to take up our cross and live like him (Luke 9). Jesus voice calls us to treat others as we would like them to treat us (Matthew 7).

In place of listening to Jesus voice, many Christians seem to be distracted by the yelling and fearful language coming from government leaders and talking heads. By giving in to these voices, Jesus’ voice fades to the background and our trust is easily placed in those claiming they can keep us safe.

It is my prayer that we, as a church, will remember that Jesus’ voice is most important in our lives and that we will not give into the loud and fear-inducing voices that try to draw our attention away.

Rev. Ellery Dykeman is pastor at First Lutheran Church in Minot.