Go. . . and Teach them…to Obey. . . .
There is an unavoidable reality right in the middle of that famous verse: The reality of this verse is that no one person can complete it alone!
Yes, I can go. That is under my control. (rejoicing in the truth that the Spirit directs, but even so Matthew 28 tells us to be active and “go”!)
Yes, I can teach (which also means I can learn to teach in ways that line up with the people I am sent to).
I can control what I teach and how I teach. (By the way, intercultural education is a fascinating study because of the huge variations in how people think, teach, and learn!)
But. . . .
No, I have no control over whether my audience obeys. As much as I can set that as a goal, I cannot control whether it will happen.
What I can control is to make the message clear – to go and to teach in a way that is understandable. The goal (outside of my control!) is that people respond by obeying God’s message.
Welcome to the dance of the Great Commission! It takes two or more to dance, and they have to be “in sync” about the kind of dance, the choice of music, what steps to share. If one person dances a tango while the other tries to waltz the result is. . . . well, at best it is awkward! Dancing requires that we “sync up.” (Here is a funny picture: imagine a group with some people doing a square dance while others are breakdancing!!).
Dancing requires that we “sync up.”
Intercultural ministry also requires that we “sync up” – with Father, Son, and Spirit in the first place, and with the people we are sent to in the second place. But even when we “sync up” we have to understand that being sent and learning to “teach all things” in a way that can be understood still does not guarantee how people will respond. Jesus taught truth to a rich young ruler who chose his material goods instead of Kingdom riches (Mark 10:17 – 30 is one of the accounts of this story). Jesus went. He taught. He had a goal of moving the young man to obedience. But even the King of Kings did not somehow force that young man. He allowed the young man to make his choices, and it looks like the young man chose not to obey the Lord and His priorities.
Over the coming months, Global Trellis’ culture posts will talk about the attitudes and skills that can help us to “sync up” with people who come from a very different way of life than ours. We want to make that aligning as smooth and seamless as possible. We want to dance in a way that fits the people we are sent to. We definitely want to stay in sync with the Spirit and His leading and guiding. And when the music fades and the dance ends, our goal is to see people choose to obey the life-giving beauty of the Gospel and the Kingdom. The reason we want our message to be as clear as possible is so that the opportunity to obey all that our Lord told us is clearly understood. We can’t make that decision for people, but we can help to make the message clear and winsome!
How do we “sync up” with an audience that comes from a culture different than our own?
The dance needs us to develop and grow in
Our next post will begin to look at the attitudes that help us sync with people from a language and culture that is different than our own.