When you hear a big mouth like me saying “Grow Big Ears to counter-act big-mouth syndrome” perhaps it’s time to listen to another view on things.
This blog is simply to say tacit agreement, un-thinking and obvious non-scriptural positions are not to be applauded nor agreed upon in order to stop or stave off “division” and promote “unity”. It IS to say “missionary” is never listed as a specific gift of the Holy Spirit in the Bible. As not all are specifically gifted by Him as evangelists, missions are not even in the narrow read of the scriptures, a gift though it is a gift in general to have more than a “study” of “the other” in one’s experience. Why?
Choosing to be, being chosen or “by accident” or “natural” or unexpected causes engaged with people of other cultures, sub-cultures, races, ethnicities and huge or near zero power is a gift to us. Our perspective widens or our hearts may be hardened by such experiences.
If much of our source is either anger or fear we are likely never going to be about Jesus’ mission because we will ultimately remove ourselves from those He is calling us to reach with Good News.
The bad news is plenty of believers do not see themselves called to love a neighbor they do not know, trust or understand. There are plenty of reasons to rationalize ourselves out of the personal crosses and calling to love our neighbor, but a genuine, convicted and called missionary typically (not by any means all or always) soon recognizes what they do not know, learns to listen, not only study to gain converts but is her/him self converted in terms of “the other’s” areas of strength, intrinsic value (a core concept of Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross).
Like many musicians and sports lovers I became fully engaged with so many black and other people of color like this: To me they were at first foreign, next a little strange, then familiar, and eventually amazingly brilliant, deep and in time, deeply relating music, lyrics and life experiences of folks who did not look or sound like me.
My admiration for gifted sports figures went far beyond race very early in my life.
When your God is too small and your up-close-and-personal relationship with others is largely limited to folks who look, think and judge as you do, you may tend to the security of walls vs. bridges. You are likely not even close to living out the mission of Jesus, and instead of repenting where an attitude of distance is being created (by you, because you cannot literally force the other folk to come to you) then to call for unity and cry out against division puts you right back inside your own comfort zone. We avoid crosses of the cross-cultural just like that.
Big ears. Big heart. Grace to those who may well be living in gross sin, error, need God’s love in Jesus Christ. For this to happen via you and I we have got to change -and be changed by deeper connection with God the Holy Spirit as well as links to people we don’t really wish to associate with. Yes. Political, racial and otherwise. Yes.
I’ve mentioned in blogs and elsewhere that the horrors as well as sweet and excellent work of missionaries has taken place often resulting in the missionary realizing various aspects of this or that pagan culture at times is more in line with Jesus and His Gospel than what the home and home-church has lived out. Elements of our chosen or simply born-into, inherited culture in the white West are as sick and damnable as plenty of foreign cultural habits and preferences. If one is not willing to humbly face that reality, then all bets are off regarding true unity in Christ or even in basic humanity, at least coming from us!
This happens as we risk real encounters with real people over time, calendar days, often years. We wake up when the alarm begins to sound in our own ears.
God help me, help us to Listen. Learn. Lock, load and shoot at first sound won’t cure you and may destroy someone else for whom Jesus died.
As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn