Friday, July 15, 2011

Looking at Jesus with New Eyes

One thing that makes us unique as individuals is the way we see the world around us.  If you ask three people about the same movie, you are likely to get three very different answers.  Did they really see the same move?  Of course, but each one interpreted what they saw based on who they are and what life experiences shaped them up to this point.  Each one has a different "world view."

All of us have a world view.  We may not call it that, but its the way that we personally see the world.  Everything we are flows out of our world view.  It affects how we receive information and it also colors how we give out information.  There are many things that contribute to the formation of our world view such as culture, economic status, family make-up, education, and even how far one's traveled from home.   Knowing a bit about someones world view helps a great deal in understanding what they say and what they do.  It serves as a framework to interpreting the full content of their message and intentions.

So why is that important?  Well, if I don't know a persons world view, I will be inclined to interpret what I hear by my world view.  This can cause a wrong interpretation of the message completely.  For example, let's take the biblical example of "turn the other cheek."  My Christian world view says that this is an exercise in humility and grace, while a non-Christian world view may see this as weakness and foolishness.  This is a basic example that is pretty obvious.  But what about other subtle world view differences. 

Recently, I picked up a book called, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith, by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg.  I've only gotten a few chapters read but already I can see new insights into the world view of Jesus.  The place and time, culture and faith of Jesus colored the way He spoke to the people.  New Testament scholars wrote the Scriptures based on their world view as well and assumed that the readers would share that world view. 

One insight that I found personally exciting was the fact that,

"women were encouraged to sit in on the advanced discussions at the synagogue if they were able.  A few even acquired the high-level education required to contribute to rabbinic debates, and their words are still on record.  Some restrictions on women, like separating men and women during worship, actually arose several centuries later."

Mary of Bethany was one of those women.  We always see her at the feet of Jesus.  Now I know that she was a true disciple.  I love that.

The authors go on to say,

"If you were a first-century Jew, you probably would have heard a saying in circulation for at least a hundred years: 'Let your house be a meeting place for the rabbis, and cover yourself in the dust of their feet, and drink in their words thirstily.'"[Mishnah, Pirke Avot (Sayings of the Fathers) 1:4.]

That's exactly what Mary and Martha chose to do.  Just these two bits of Jewish culture give such richness to the women in Jesus' life that I already admire.  I'm looking forward to more understanding in the days to come.

I agree with Paul when he said,

...that they may know the mystery of God, even Christ,  

in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden.

Colossians 2:2-3 (ASV)

There is so much to learn about the mystery of God.  True disciples are the ones that sit close enough to the rabbi to learn.  The mysteries of Jesus are not hidden so no one will find them. They are hidden so that the diligent and hungry will search and find them!   It's kind of like hiding Easter eggs from your kids.  When they are little, the eggs are practically in plain sight.  But as the kids get older, more creative hiding places are needed.  Not because we don't want the eggs to be found - that would be a sticky disaster.  There is joy is searching and finding.  God's knows us.  It is His delight to reveal things hidden.  And they are all to be found in Jesus!

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