Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 99; 147:1-11, Leviticus 26:27-42, Ephesians 1:1-10, Matthew 22:41-46
Jesus certainly seemed to enjoy stumping the Pharisees. When he asked them whose son the Messiah was, they confidently answered “David.” But when asked them how David could call the Messiah “Lord” if he was also his son, they had no answer and were afraid to ask any more questions. What had been obvious to them moments before was no longer so. There’s a certain satisfaction in reading about Jesus puncturing the Pharisees’ balloon of smugness. Maybe that’s partly because at one time or another we’ve all been on the receiving end of something similar; we’ve probably also been on the giving end.
One of the words most likely to undermine effective communication is “obvious.” When something seems obvious to us, we treat it like an objective reality. If someone else can’t see or understand it, we question their powers of observation and / or comprehension. The truth is, we all bring different perspectives to life. Draftspersons create two-dimensional orthographic drawings and three-dimensional isometric drawings to illustrate the complete dimensions of an object. Without representation from all sides, otherwise “obvious” details are easy to miss. Consider a cylinder: from the end it looks like a circle, but from the side it looks like a rectangle. Both are equally true and equally incomplete. When we think something is obvious and someone else does not, it is not a reason for ridicule, but a signal that one or both of us could learn from an additional perspective.
Since we aren’t Jesus talking to the Pharisses, it’s probably better if we don’t get a reputation for providing withering responses to questions or different opinions. We might like to interpret that as people thinking we are clever, but it more likely means they think we are close-minded. You don’t have to shut down a co-worker, friend, or spouse too many times by arrogantly pointing out the “obvious” to them before the lines of communication collapse.
In any given situation, we may be seeing only the end of the cylinder. While it’s obviously a circle, insisting that’s the sole and obvious truth is a rejection of the glorious diversity God has created.
Comfort: Your truth adds to the sum of truth.
Challenge: Try to strike the word “obvious” from your conversations.
Prayer: Glorious Creator, open my mind to all the wonders of your creation. Show me the truths I can’t see from my perspective. Amen.
Discussion: When have you missed something which was obvious to someone else? And vice versa?
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