Switching gears..I want to share with you the biggest lesson that I learned from the last couple weeks of my first online class. One of our assignments was to read the book called Cross-Cultural Connections by Duane Elmer. This book is for anyone that is entering a new culture. The book's tagline is "stepping out and fitting in around the world". I learned a lot from this book and will be taking it with me when I head overseas to reference. The story that stuck with me the most was the first story called "The Monkey and the Fish". Here it is:
A typhoon had temporarily stranded a monkey on an island. In a secure, protected place, while waiting for the raging waters to recede, the monkey spotted a fish swimming against the current. It seemed obvious to the monkey that the fish was struggling and in need of assistance. Being of kind heart, the monkey resolved to help the fish.
A tree precariously dangled over the very spot where the fish seemed to be struggling. At considerable risk to himself, the monkey moved far out on a limb, reached down and snatched the fish from the threatening waters. Immediately scurrying back to the safety of his shelter, he carefully laid the fish on dry ground. For a few moments the fish showed excitement, but soon settled into a peaceful rest. Joy and satisfaction swelled inside the monkey. He had successfully helped another creature.
I was struck by how the monkey honestly wanted to help the fish, and even risked his own life for the fish..but in the end, he did something that didn't help the fish..instead, he severely damaged the fish. Because the monkey stayed in his own frame of reference, and didn't take time to learn the culture of the fish, the monkey was not aware of what the fish needed..and didn't need.
This story emphasizes again to me the extreme importance of learning the language and the culture of the people group that I am going into. Christ came down from heaven and stayed with us for 30 years before we hear about the majority of the stories that are in the Gospels! Taking time to learn the culture of the people is vital. I must first honor the Bible, and secondly honor the new culture that I am heading into..and leave behind part of the cultural baggage that I have.
Paul speaks to this in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23
I think the story of the monkey and the fish can help us to look at how we see people in the States as well. Perhaps you see a mom yelling at her child in the grocery store and think judgmental thoughts. Perhaps you get angry at the car that cuts you off while driving. May we all choose to stop, take a step back, and choose to see these people as Christ would see them. May we stop and listen to what the Holy Spirit may be calling us to say or do.
May we all choose to love deeply every day