God primarily grows Christians through his word, proclaimed to his people in corporate gathering.
While God’s intent is consistent, disciples of Jesus develop a capacity not just to listen, but to truly hear God’s Word.
From Leading With The Sermon, Will Willimon enumerates how the Christian trains themselves to be a hearer. One of those presuppositions that we train ourselves into is the expectation that God’s word challenges our understanding, it doesn’t simply reinforce our existing thought:
There is always the supposition that a sermon could disrupt my received world by verbally rendering the coming kingdom of God. A primary mode of Jesus’ communication was parable – short, disarming, dislocating stories, often without neat conclusions, relating to everyday life yet also mysterious, opaque, and befuddling. When Jesus spoke of God’s realm, he usually did so in parables, analogously, as if there were little about the kingdom of heaven that was self-evident or obvious, particularly to those of us more accustomed to living by the values of the kingdoms of this world. Confusion and consternation are expected byproducts of faithful preaching. True, Jesus said that the truth would make us free (John 8:32), but most lifetime listeners to sermons would add that the truth often makes one miserable before setting one free. In such painful attentiveness to the truth of God is our salvation. If you hear a sermon and respond, “Yes, that is what I’ve always thought,” listen again; you probably heard it wrong.
William H Willimon, Leading With The Sermon, Fortress Press, 2020, pgs 50-51.