Wednesday, February 04, 2015

The Assumptions


There was a very warm thank you card in the mail one day last week for me when I returned home from school. Last month, I made a small donation to the work my niece is involved with in Africa. That was a poor choice of words for me in that last sentence. Meagan is not involved in the work in Zambia- it's her life. Anyway, the note was from a very nice sister-in-Christ who made several assumptions about me. First, based on my  last name, I must be related to Meagan. CORRECT and proudly so! The second assumption was a little off the mark. Both the envelope and the card itself were addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Hawley. Actually there are a number of Mrs. Hawleys like Sally, Karen, Gayle, Lauren, Julia, Vicki, Leanna, Haley, Courtney, etc but they are the spouses of my male relatives and not my better half. I haven't given up- that's why I end all my blogs and correspondence with Luke 18:1!

Do any of us go through a day without making assumptions about others? I see it with kids all the time. You know, if you're tall, you play basketball. If you're Asian, you make good grades and you're Chinese no matter your country of origin. If you are popular, life is perfect. And so on. I'm not saying assumptions are all bad or inaccurate. One of the first notes I give each year is that the Bible assumes the reader believes in God. Genesis 1:1 does not state that, "In the beginning, there was a God....''  No, it says, "In the beginning, God..."  But too often, the way we analyze and calculate impressions of others makes us think we can predict what type of soil others are as told in Jesus' Parable of the Sower.... and often we miss by a mile. 

I'm no weather guru but I found it interesting that the forecast of a historical blizzard to slam into NYC last week turned out to be drastically overstated. News reports mentioned prognosticators using computer models that were wrong and I know many folks are glad they were. Assume the worst and you'll be prepared for what comes. On the other hand, sometimes we ascribe positives or negatives to certain nationalities or ethnicities for irrational reasons. Several years ago, we had a short term foreign exchange student who my middle school female students were tremendously enamored of. They referred to him simply.... and often dreamily, as Tim The German Guy. Some followed him around to the point where he recognized he had a fan club. I was able to get several of the girls to admit they perceived him as more handsome/debonair/stylish/mysterious than our American male students simply because he was German. That was kind of cute but it's easy to see the ramifications. If being a certain ethnicity is perceived as superior, you can make a case for another being inferior. The same is true for education levels and other selective characteristics on which we might choose to pass judgment. Even those closest to Jesus were not immune, expressing shock when the Savior taught that it was difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom. "Who then can be saved?" they wondered in Luke 18:26. Of course, Jesus countered with His impossible with man/possible with God  teaching. It seems He assumed the best of others, whether they be Gentiles or centurions, tax collectors or my favorite grouping, 'sinners.' What bothers us didn't seem to matter all that much to Him and what doesn't seem to register with us could lead to a severe chastising. I'm left with only one conclusion; I assume He knew what He was doing. That's a pretty safe bet.

Applicable quote of the day:
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E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

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