I started talking to people in a counselling capacity way back in High School. For whatever reason, there were a couple of girls who talked to me about the things that were worrying them, and I did my best to help them. They weren’t world-altering conversations; most often the chats centred around boyfriends or worries about school, but for the young ladies that confided in me, they were things that really mattered, and in many ways, things that resonated with me.
Over the years I have received formal training in basic counselling, and have spoken with many, many women and men. One pattern stands out in those conversations: folks with a small world-views tend to focus on very small things. Folks with a larger world-view, meanwhile, worry about bigger things, and usually the time spent together is more productive, as those people seem to be able to move forward, mature and heal.
I can’t say that for the folks that focus on the petty things. For them, there is little I can offer other than a listening ear, as their limited view of the world keeps them from seeing the possibilities beyond themselves. Petty hurts are never released. The world is out to get them. Things are black and white with very little room for grey.
When Jesus taught His disciples He challenged them by using examples they understood, but also with parables that often left them wondering. His teaching caused them to open their minds so that they could receive a message that was radically different from what they expected. Even His own life experience gave them the opportunity to understand things in new ways. Imagine Jesus telling them about His temptation by Satan and the way he argued with him using the Bible lessons the disciples knew so well? Think for a moment the way He reframed the Sabbath for the religious and legal leaders, and how His followers understood what he said while the experts felt insulted.
Those leaders had a limited world-view. They only understood their faith based on tradition and legalism that made them look small and petty. Even though challenged by Jesus and given every opportunity to learn, they failed to grow and lost out on the opportunity God had presented them through Jesus.
Jesus’ followers and disciples had the wherewithal to expand their way of thinking. They listened to His lessons, saw the way He lived and matured in their relationship with God. Their original, pre-Jesus world-view might have been fairly narrow; when they paid attention to Him, a whole new world of possibilities opened up to them.
Challenging things are happening right now. There is a great deal to think about and even more to learn in terms of race relations, living with COVID-19, climate change and many other concerns. We could, of course, focus on the little irritations and petty concerns, but that wouldn’t help anyone or change anything. Only when we listen to Jesus with an open mind will we get the bigger picture that will help us grow and thrive in these trying times. Only by seeing the world from His loving perspective can we really make a positive difference in everything we do, say.