When we engage with others and start a discussion around faith, what is our start point? What are we assuming from the outset when we get into the conversation?
When Paul went and engaged with people, he was asked, “What is this new thing you are talking about?” Acts.17.16-32.
Paul, through his observations and time with people, realised that they were starting from a point of not knowing, not having anything to hold onto in the discussion – that Jesus was something new to these people.
Do we need to move our thinking from the perspective of assuming people have some kind of understanding, some kind of knowledge of what we’re talking about, to recognising that most don’t? Do we need to stop making assumptions about what people know or don’t know and actually spend time engaging, understanding and listening, so we gain that perspective and are able to join with God in bringing revelation to them in a way that makes sense?
What does it mean about our approaches when we make assumptions?
How can we ensure that we stop making assumptions?
Observation is one of those things so many of us think we do, think we understand and maybe even think we do quite well, but do we actually spend time observing?
And when we do spend the time, are we aware of the perspective from which we do the observing?
Observation takes time – time to notice, time to understand, time to engage, time to listen, time to reflect, time to think – so clearly, with this amount of observation, it cannot be rushed!!
When we read about the activities of Jesus and the disciples, often we read but disregard the parts where it talks about them going to an area. We don’t know how much time they spent in each place, learning, engaging, listening and so on. But, it must be clear that time was spent, if for no other reason, than to show understanding.
Not only is it important to spend the time, but it is vital that the right perspective is had when we do observe. What do I mean by right perspective? Simply, it is not having our own perspective, but having God’s perspective on situations and contexts in which we find ourselves.
Seeing things through the lens of our relationship with Jesus is vital, so we gain a truer perspective on what is really going on.
Why is this important? Because often, we as humans can be caught in the trap of seeing the obvious and the superficial, without actually seeing what is truly going on.
The Shack challenges our thinking on this hugely. Mac, the key character, is challenged not to judge what he can see, but to push past the superficial to the truth.
So key questions to ask ourselves:
Do we spend enough time observing?
What would enable us to see things better from God’s perspective?
What are the barriers to seeing things from God’s perspective?
What of us is God asking to give up, so we can observe more like him?
How many times do we see people disregarded or undervalued because we do not see them as God sees them? How many times do we hear the question, who gave you authority? Or even as the title of this blog post asks, “who appointed you?”
Often we have our own opinions and thoughts on whether people should lead, or how they lead, but this often comes from our perspective, rather than asking the question of whether God appointed them or not?
Interestingly, in the Bible when the 72 are sent out, the first phrase is that Jesus appointed them; they didn’t ask for permission nor did they go elsewhere to seek approval, but they understood that it was Jesus who had appointed them, and that was enough.
This can, but shouldn’t, lead to a place of arrogance for some, but this goes against the kingdom value, where Jesus appoints and Jesus is king, and if those are true, it is not for us to tear down, disregard or even disrespect others in their position.
So let’s live lives as appointed people, sent by God, going with him where he is at work and where he invites us to join him. Let’s go where we can enjoy that relationship with the king, appointed by the king, and released by the king.
What enables you to live out an appointed life?
What would be barriers to you living out this appointed life?
Is Jesus king of all areas of your life?
What stops us from handing our lives into the hands of Jesus?