One time my family was visiting some friends in Houston at their house. They have two twin girls named Lauren and Emily. I was chillin’ like the cool junior high kid I was in the den and Leah came in. We had this conversation.
Leah: Lawrence Samster died.
Beth: I don’t know who that is.
Leah: Lawrence Samster. He died.
Beth: Leah, I don’t know what the heck you’re talking about (then I probably made the whatever sign or something awesome like that)
Leah: LAWRENCE SAMSTER
Beth: I DON’T KNOW WHO THAT IS.
Then we punched each other in the face and I figured out that she was saying Lauren’s hamster. It was a very sad day.
One time, my grandparents were driving through Ft Worth (probably speeding) and my grandmother saw the Mistletoe Street. Here’s the conversation that ensued:
G-ma: Did you read about the lady who lives on Mistletoe?
G-dad: You can’t live on mistletoe.
G-ma: What do you mean you can’t live on Mistletoe? Of course, you can.
G-dad: No you can’t. It’s physically impossible to live on mistletoe.
I seem to remember them telling me that the conversation went like this for at least 15 minutes, you know, incessant arguing between people who have been married for 50 years and know every last ding dang detail about each other’s lives (can’t wait), then they figured out that Grandmother meant Mistletoe street and Grandaddy was saying that no one can “live on mistletoe” alone, because the plant is poisinous.
Last one, I promise. One time, I was in Costa Rica talking to my favorite kid ever who’s like 13 now. His name is Juan Jesus. I was complimenting his socks (they had cartoon characters on them) and when I said “Hey, I like your socks” in Spanish, he promptly showed me his underwear. I was real confused and a little taken aback. I said it again with the same results. My best guess is that I was using the wrong word. Or he’s just a kooky little boy that likes magic tricks and frogs.
With this increasing globalization of society, I think miscommunication is going to get more and more common. The proof? I’m in a major that teaches me no practial skills (you know, useful things like how to replace axles on cars) but it does teach me how to understand and work within the confines of different cultures. As a result, as long as I feel I need to be in the international corporate world, I will have a job because we’re starting to get it: it being that if you don’t understand someone, it’s hard to do bidness with them.
I have heard (and like) the phrase “be in the world but not of it”. At the moment, I cannot for the life of me find where that may be found in the Bible, so if you know, let me know. Be in the world. Let’s consider this for a minute. What I see with this increasing globalization and worsening of our culture (i.e. TV) is that Christians are getting more and more fearful about participating in society. They want to take their kids and teachers out of public schools and move them to safer private schools. Churches move from downtowns to suburbs. They listen to Christian music, only read Christian books, and watch Christian movies (gag). Then when their neighbor comes to see if they want to watch a football game with the guys, they freak out. There’s no common ground. I’m seeing a trend towards Christian miscommunication with the world.
(Do you get it? I’m not saying that Christian movies, books, and music are bad. They aren’t. But if you only deal with Christian media, and then only do Christian meetings during the week, and then only hang out with Christian people…you see the trend. Too much of a good thing.)
You see, I think the world looks at us retreating into our increasingly comfortable Christian bubble and maybe thinks that we’re saying we’re too good to be around them. While this maybe part of the reason, I think a major one is that Christians are finding it harder to communicate with non-Christians. We are finding it harder to “be in the world” and not cross over into “of the world”. To be honest, sometimes I err in the direction of “of the world” too much. I enjoy secular music and Project Runway is probably the best show ever on the most scandalous channel ever. But it’s easy to get caught up in these and sometimes I end up having “Loosen Up My Buttons” stuck in my head instead of say, a verse from Psalms (Believe me, I would MUCH rather have Psalms running through my brain).
Lately God has been teaching me more and more about this. For instance, sometimes in order to connect with the homeless guys, we talk about TV shows. In order to be able to have a discussion about that, you have to know what they’re talking about, right?
I think what I’m trying to verbalize is that we need to realize that Jesus didn’t do all the prescribed Christian things. He hung out with the “wrong” people, healed on the “wrong” day. Jesus did not say “Come and live in your Christian bubble!” He said,
“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:15-17
Note the: Don’t take them out, God; just protect them.
Another facet of communication is understanding the background of people before we judge them. We try to see and talk to the world as if they are Christians. NEWSFLASH: They probably don’t believe the Bible and sadly, they might not know who Jesus is. This is one thing that I feel like I’ve understood through the homeless guys. It took me a while to understand their drinking, but one night, after they guy told me that he really misses his daughter and started crying, he started to drink. I understood in one second why he does that. It’s to escape the pain because he doesn’t know any other way. If I could take this concept and apply it evenly to everyone, I think I would learn alot about compassion.
I want to give props to the inspirational people that I have been hearing about lately who are actively engaged in loving the hurting and finding common ground. You get it. I’m trying to.