Unconventional People Accomplishing Unconventional Things in Unconventional Ways
Jesus was certainly not very well received by the people of his hometown, was he? Basically, they rejected him! And, as HE was rejected, we may sometimes find ourselves rejected, OR we may reject others. Reactions of acceptance or rejection often depend upon just how we look upon our fellow man; and a Christian has a unique way of looking!
When we look upon others, do we see them from a Christian perspective, as gifted children of God who have a role to play in the renewal of this world of ours? Or do misjudgments and misunderstandings sometimes block our vision?
The people of Nazareth dismissed the wisdom in Jesus because he was a mere carpenter. As the crowds lacked confidence in Jesus because of his simple origins, so might we dismiss the contributions and value of people we meet if we misjudge them.
Sometimes human value comes from the most unexpected places and from the most unexpected people. God often seems to do things in unconventional ways. This may be how God clues us to when things are of God and when they are not of God. Anyway, it seems like that to me at times. Let me give you some examples.
Many of you know that Linda and I had a foreign exchange student years ago named Yoshiko. We just called her Yoko. And, as so often happens, when someone comes into your home, they often move into your heart as well. Needless to say, before long, we treated Yoko as just another daughter; and she, in turn, has treated us like just another set of parents.
Yoko now lives in France, outside Paris. She is married to Gaetan and they just had their first child; a beautiful baby girl named Mina. We regularly correspond and recently Yoko shared a great insight with me.
You see, Gaetan, her husband, is deaf. Yoko shared that in the last 3 years she has known Gaetan, “so many inconveniences and injustices have come down to him”. She explains, “It is not easy to have a handicap”; but, also she says, “we cannot always keep saying that we are sorry. We need to go forward to establish our life, too!”
One thing she has come to respect in Gaetan is that he has proven that he can work just like anyone else. Imagine, she says, “A deaf can work for music? It is strange and surprising, but it is great!” You see, Gaetan makes violin bows and sells them in his shop. And she says, “I think his level of technique as a craftsman is considerably high!”
I found Yoko’s statement, “A deaf can work for music!” to be one of those examples where competence is found in unexpected places coming from unexpected people. I also found it to be an example of how God often works. He is often a God of contradiction! And it is these contradictions that make us think. They remind us that it is Him - not Us - that is in charge.
Another example of this was evident to me on one of my visits to the Siena-Francis House in downtown Omaha. I was invited to sit in on one of their Friday morning meetings where they recognize birthdays, sobriety milestones, and graduations from assistance programs. I was really struck by one powerful story in particular. It was the successful turnaround of a young woman who had had a serious drug addiction problem and then found herself pregnant. She did not want to give birth to a child while being an addict. She asked for the help of her spouse and the counselors at the Siena/Francis House. Her husband kept encouraging her while the counselors kept working with her. On that Friday morning, she got her certificate for successful completion of the rigorous drug rehabilitation program. And with her were her spouse and brand new baby. She was called to be a Mother and now, through the assistance of others, she was freed from the hold of drugs to meet that call.
Yoko helps Gaetan remove barriers so that his gifts to the field of music can progress. And his gifts carry increased significance since they are so selfless. Gaetan cannot even hear that which his gifts produce! The young woman at the Siena/Francis House aided by her husband and counselors now selflessly gives herself to both her husband and her baby. Both Gaetan and the young woman are “people for others”! And that is what we are all called to be.
Now, many of us regularly concern ourselves with fairness, justice, equity, and outreach to others. Let us now move a little further behind those actions and think a little more deeply about just WHY we concern ourselves with these matters. What is it about our Christian approach to life that makes our motives somewhat different from those of other well-intended people?
Our concern and outreach are not just to be of help to others so that their life is more bearable. No, if we truly believe that ALL have been given gifts by God and God expects ALL to use those gifts for the building of the Kingdom, our assistance to others is done for the purpose of freeing them to be able to exercise those gifts. We help others so that they, in turn, can help still more people.
We do this in recognition of their dignity as children of God who have things to do, people to touch, and ideas to share. Christ has something he wants to do and he wants to do it through them! And our knowledge of this comes from the revelation, through Jesus Christ, that God wants to establish his Kingdom here on earth, through us, in a spirit of TRUTH and LOVE!
So, the next time you see someone who suffers from some disadvantage; do not think your task is just to help them overcome that particular obstacle. That may be a by-product, but it is not your primary objective.
You wish to help that person be ALL that God calls them to be. You wish to assist them help others, not just to be helped. You want them to join you in the renewal of this temporal world so as to build the Kingdom of God! And you can’t do that if you wrongly judge their value! Leave judgment to God! To the God who often works through unconventional people in unconventional ways to accomplish unconventional things.