But then I read my Bible to find some good verses to really nail my point home with. And, as is often my experience, I ended up having one of those moments. Maybe you know what I’m talking about: you go to Jesus to back you up in an argument and instead He ends up sucker-punching you in the gut!
Here’s how it happened this time,
Jesus: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
(That’s from Matthew 7:4-5)
Me: “Yes, that’s just what I need to make my point that folk should listen to me. They’re blind to their own cultural weaknesses, and they need a good missionary brother like me to point it out.”
Jesus: “Are you sure that’s who I was talking about?”
Me: “Well I don’t see who else you could… oh!”
Jesus: “Yup, sucks to be you.”
(That bit was from my imagination.)
You see, as I thought over some of the responses to my post on being a single Christian I felt that sharp pang of conviction that I have come to call friend. It is not pleasant to be called a hypocrite. Especially by Jesus. But it is even more unpleasant to be oblivious to the fact that you actually are a hypocrite. That you are the cause of problem.
It is of course easy to claim that other people are the main problem. Sure I play a part, but it is small – negligible even – compared to their problem. In fact my stuff probably wouldn’t even be a problem if they dealt with their issue!
But that is exactly Jesus’ point. I think that way, precisely because I have a big fat lump of wood in my eye! Of course I think that my problem is smaller. I can’t see the situation properly. It is only once I’ve dealt with my stuff that I’m able to see just how much of a problem it was.
It seems then that I need to adjust my initial statement, the vantage point of a different culture can help us to see the areas where others need to change if we have humility to recognise our own need to change first.
So would you pray for missionaries i.e. Me. Pray that as we engage with the cultures we’re going to, and as we re-engage with our home culture we would have humility to recognise our blind spots, our weaknesses, our problems. Pray for the planks to be removed from our eyes, so that we can see clearly and therefore be truly helpful, rather than simply hypocritical.