Three Questions Worth Spending Significant Time Contemplating
In his excellent book The Monkey and the Fish, Dave Gibbons asks three questions as he talks about the massive shift that is going on in our world. How are we to figure out how to navigation this rapidly changing world as followers of Jesus and as faith communities? Alan Roxburgh has referred to the kind of change we are in as “discontinuous change.” This phrase is defined by Webster as, “Non-incremental, sudden change that threatens existing or traditional authority or power structure, because it drastically alters the way things are currently done or have been done for years.”
In light of this, Dave Gibbons brings up three excellent questions that I think we would do well to spend a lot of time pondering the answers. In answering these questions, we begin to get an understanding of where and how God is calling us to love and serve others.
Where is Nazarath?
By this he inviting us to look for the broken places in our world. He writes,
“Who in your community is the outsider, the misjudged, the misunderstood. Maybe the one who seems weakest? Who are the strangers and the friendless? Focusing on them as a church may mean you won’t grow fast. And you may lose some people. But your church will be fulfilling the most beautiful expression of who God is.”
The fact is, far too often we want to serve and love those who are “cool” and “fun” to serve. We wouldn’t say this outright, but just take a look at our churches. What would it look like for us to intentionally step into the “Nazaraths” of our communities as Jesus did? This would have to be intentional because, frankly, its not going to happen unless we make a decision for it to happen. Our normal way of life will not lead us down this path automatically.
What is my pain?
It’s funny, I talk all the time about understanding our giftedness and talents as we talk about understanding and discovering God’s calling for us as individuals and as a church. I think this is legit because of the amount of time Paul spends talking about spiritual gifts in Romans and Corinthians as well as the leadership gifts in Eph. 4. But, Paul also talks about God’s power being made perfect in weakness and that God will use the weak of the world to shame the wise. By asking this question, we begin inviting God to use the broken parts of our lives to love and serve others. This is actually kind of counter-intuitive and that’s exactly why I think its so important. Gibbons writes,
“And I’ve realized again and again that my pain was a gift from God. As I’ve met people around the world and shared my pain with them, it is the pain that draws people in, far more so than my limited talents, skills and accomplishments. It disarms all the things that can be used to divide us – race, economics, culture, politics, nationalism, dogma, language.”
What is in my hand?
This last question helps us stop comparing ourselves to others and it allows us to stop saying, “if i/we only had…” Instead, Dave writes,
“instead of dangerously comparing myself with others, what is within my grasp relationally, historically, and resources-wise right now?”
The simple point is this, God will provide us all that we need to accomplish his purposes.
I encourage you, spend some time journaling (if you do that kind of thing) and praying (I hope you do that kind of thing!) around these three questions. I think you’ll be surprised with where God takes you…