Meeting For The First Time

For most people, meeting someone for the first time can be a bit tenuous and uncertain. While seeking to be polite, our mind races with questions and conclusions about our encounters. Who is this person? Do they like me? Do I like them? Do we live on the same “wavelength?” Are they interested in me? Do they have an agenda for me? How am I feeling about them right now? How are they feeling about me? So many questions, with lots of possible answers.

Since human beings are really good at “filling in their own blanks,” and “answering their own questions” with “conclusions and suppositions,” I think it best for us to consult America’s top theologian – Mark Twain!  He aptly noted, “It is wiser to find out than to suppose.” That makes tons of sense to me. We need to “Ask and Clarify” our way into relational connection. You’ve heard me say before, “Clarity is our friend and confusion is our enemy.”

The truth is, assumptions, suppositions, suspicions, and “hunches” can get us into trouble with ourselves and others. The Apostle Paul was falsely maligned, accused, and mischaracterized by a party of Jews from the province of Asia, who stirred up trouble in Jerusalem by this allegation: “And besides, he [Paul] has brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place.  (They had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul and ASSUMED that Paul had brought him into the temple.)” Acts 21:28b-29 NIV. Their anger and disappointment were based on a lie; an untruth about Paul’s life and character.

I love what Actor Henry Winkler once said: “Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” Just a friendly reminder, termites destroy and disintegrate wood, ruining it.  The truth is, we all make assumptions, and that's not always a bad or wrong thing. Assumptions play a crucial role in everyday survival: they fill in gaps in what we think and perceive, and they help us make sense out of a complex world. But we can also be misled and drawn to conclusions, and away from clarifying curiosity if we allow rumor to function over relationship in our reflections on people’s lives. We must remember that PERCEPTIONS are not always an accurate vision of REALITY! Nor are all the messages we see and hear in culture and community.

I have two hopes for my church family at this juncture. First, I hope that every human being who walks into and through our doors will be met with radical hospitality, authentic human kindness, and genuine personal interest in their life. No one wants to be a part of a community that ignores them, “ghosts” them, avoids them, and is cautious and careful around them. A full-family embrace and welcome is the Kingdom of God “Standard” for relationships with new people.

Second, I hope you will repeat “Hope 1” with our brand-new Pastor, Linda Tucker,” when she arrives July 1st. Set the gold bar for how we welcome and integrate new people into the life of our church. Spend time and energy being curious, conversational, committed, and caring for Linda, and every other human being that walks through our doors.  Furthermore, do the same thing for every other human being you meet in our larger community and society. This is (quite simply) how Jesus lives, everywhere, all the time! Do not begin relationships with assumptions. Begin them with curiosity, hope, and love
“They were curious about Jesus.”
John 11:56a  The Message
Pastor David 😊

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