To say that I am challenged by this three hour part of my day would be an epic understatement. The first six guys are continually pushing for more clarity in the Word. They are dealing with how to really understand and apply the Word to all aspects of their lives as husbands, fathers, professionals, and men who are striving to represent their Lord in each of those roles. The dialog is good, the questions are deep, the time flies by…
Then I drive home and fire up the video conference with a man half way around the world. It is slower. We sometimes struggle understanding each other, I talk to fast, and sometimes he has to search for the right English word to express his thoughts. Then he starts asking questions. They are coming out of a totally different context. He is dealing with people who have come to Christ out of Islam. The questions with which he deals are different than the earlier group. They require me to listen and think in completely different ways. I have to really work to understand the issues on the surface and behind the questions he poses. This morning as we worked through the first part of Jeremiah 3 I felt like I had not begun to understand the book and this is my fourth time through it since last fall.
People tell me that to work with people that are not in my culture that we have to be sensitive to what they are dealing with. OK. But my experience in the past two years has been that when it comes to the Word, it equalizes the cultures. If we approach the text honestly, openly, admitting and acknowledging our presuppositions, it pushes us. If we listen to one another, listen to the way the other person’s gifts and experiences are interacting with the Word, it pushes us. If we engage with people who do not live in the same circumstances as we do, if we listen to them, embrace their questions and look together with them to the Word for answers, it pushes us.
It pushes us closer to our Lord and each other.