Preconceptions; August 4, 2020

Mark 6:2-3 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

I find it very interesting that Jesus had three brothers whose names overlapped with His 12 apostles. It’s also interesting that this wasn’t a small family, with five boys and at least two girls. We don’t often think of Jesus in this family context, but I think it’s helpful to do so. The people of Nazareth saw Jesus as too ordinary, but we tend to see Him as too “other” to relate to Him. I’m sure He did His share of riding herd on His brothers and sisters, probably changing diapers and helping with discipline and the like. That’s why it wasn’t until after His resurrection that His brothers could really accept that He was the Messiah. It is telling that those in Nazareth acknowledged that His words were full of wisdom, and they couldn’t deny His miracles, but they couldn’t accept that it was the village carpenter who was doing all this stuff. From our standpoint, the image of a muscular carpenter isn’t the one we’re used to! We all have trouble with preconceptions that block us from receiving what God wants to give us. We imagine how our life is supposed to be, and then resist and rebel when God leads us a different way. We look at things with strictly human eyes, instead of allowing God to show us things as they really are. Jesus would have liked nothing better than to really bless the people of the village where He grew up, but they would have none of it, essentially, because of the “carpenter box” they had put Him into. We need to ask God to show us how we have done the same sort of thing, so that we won’t miss the magnificence of His plans for us.

Growing up as a Third Culture Kid I perhaps have less tendency to box people in than some people do, but that doesn’t mean I am fully accepting. I too need to be willing to hear God no matter who He is speaking through! In my case, I am often turned off by “big church” speakers who try to tell me how to minister in Japan. To be quite honest, what they have to say isn’t universally applicable even in America, much less in other cultural contexts! However, that doesn’t mean they don’t sometimes share things that God wants me to receive. When I put people in boxes I am putting myself in a box as well, and God is in the business of breaking all such boxes. I am to be spiritually discerning, allowing the Holy Spirit to filter my intake, but God has blessed me from unexpected directions many times before, and I am to be open to that. However, when people don’t want to receive what God wants to give them through me, I am to remember what happened to Jesus, and respond to them in love.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Right now the boxes that I deal with most often are those of “holy man” and “foreigner.” The problem with the “holy man” box is that people don’t think they can be like me, which also applies to the “foreigner” box. The latter carries the problem that sometimes I’m never actually heard, because I am seen as simply “other.” Thank You that You understand all of that, and that it isn’t too difficult for You to overcome. I ask that You enable me to speak Your truth in love regardless of how it is received at the time, so that at some point it may penetrate and set people free indeed, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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