Do we assume too much?

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?

So:
What does it mean about our approaches when we make assumptions?
How can we ensure that we stop making assumptions?

Are you at the centre?

How many times have you ever used the phrase, “I don’t want to do that?” Maybe you don’t, but what it does is put us at the centre – our desires, our intentions, and the question is, should we really put ourselves at the centre?

One thing that our nation has seen over these last few weeks is people coming together for the sake of others, putting others first: not themselves, their own wishes, desires, or even their own ambitions, whether that be taxi drivers giving free lifts, doctors and nurses going into work when they weren’t even on the rota, people running into situations, without a thought of themselves but simply for others; all of these things show something of not putting ourselves but others first.

The moment we remove ourselves and place Christ at the centre as well as putting others first, communities transform, lives change, hope is brought, and love exists.

I wonder what it will look like in a couple of months time, in a years time, whether people are still putting others first, putting others before themselves, or whether we will have gone back to thinking of ourselves first?

What does it mean for each of us to remove ourselves from the centre and place Christ there instead?
What are the temptations that lie before us, to put ourselves at the centre?
What will enable us to keep up an attitude, or approach, of keeping ourselves out of the centre, and keeping Christ there?

Who to listen to

All of us, I am sure, will be able to name those people who have spoken positively into our lives – and even those who have spoken negatively into our lives!! How people speak into our lives often has an impact upon how we react to others! Either we go completely the other way or we totally embrace the words that have been spoken over us, and we continue to speak in the same mannerisms!!

We often hear people speaking about young people, and let’s be honest, a lot of it is negative. But I wonder if some of the reaction from young people is due to the negative approaches demonstrated or shown to them in the first place?

Countering negative comments can be draining, tiring, stressful, and often leave people feeling thoroughly beaten up emotionally.

Somewhere, somehow, there needs to be – has to be – a culture change so the negativity is reduced and the positive is emphasised.

James, in his book in the Bible, refers to the tongue as a weapon, and he also suggests that at times it needs taming!!!

I wonder – when our tongue moves, when noises come from our tongues – is it a negative or positive noise that comes forth?

Do we build up, or do we knock down?

Do people feel believed in by us, or do they feel torn apart by us?

Jesus says in John 10.10 that he comes to bring life in all its fullness, but the devil comes to steal and destroy. Can we possibly change the culture and learn to live out of that fullness, enabling others to live out of that fullness, rather than allowing the stealing and destroying to take place?

As a leader, I know who are the life-giving talkers in my life, and who are the people who take away from that, so I know more and more whom to pay attention to. And I would want the same for any young person whom I work with – to know who to listen to – who are the encouragers and who are the ones who destroy!

Not only do I want to live a life of fullness, I am believing the same for young people all around me.

Consistency of Salt

I am no cook!!!!  But my taste buds work really well, and I know what I like and what I enjoy the taste of.

Why is this?
Well yes, part of it is to do with the fact that my tastebuds work, which I am very thankful for, but the more important part is the flavour and how the flavouring works.

Flavouring is what attracts us to eat something and to go back to it and even to enjoy eating it all over again. Let’s be honest, if we don’t like the taste of something, we ain’t going to try it again!!

Salt is one of those key flavourings – certainly not the only one by any stretch – but a common one and key one for many at a meal time. And yes, it does flavour our food really well, but why?

One reason is the make-up of salt: its consistency enables it to do what it should do – it doesn’t change into something else just because it engages with other food types. It is able to remain an influencing factor in our food because it remains as it is!!

Jesus talks about people being salt in Matthew, chapter 5. He refers to people being that influencing factor in the world and encourages us to be the salt that the world needs. I guess he says wanting us to keep our consistency and be that influencing factor that remains good, honest and as it should be.

We can only be the salt to the world if our consistency is right and we remain who we are meant to be.

So, can we live up to our call to be salt to the world?
Is our consistency right to enable us to be that salt?
Are we able to be that influencing flavouring to the world?