Have you noticed all the protests in the news lately? People are angry, and they are in the streets, in many parts of the world. And now, the protesters are protesting other protesters. Where I live, Chinese protesters are protesting against other people from China, who are in the streets protesting, and in the whole world, demonstrations come with counter-demonstrations. We have an epidemic of intolerant demands for tolerance:
Imagine if a young man joined his friends at a demonstration rally, for some important cause, and in the middle of the action, he noticed a young woman among the counter demonstrators; and imagine if they were attracted to each other. If their convictions were sincere, there is no possibility that they could make a personal connection because they belong to different tribes. Modern culture works against connections and relationships between people.
I’m not really talking about dating; I’m talking about our modern tribalism. It is fashionable today to disconnect from others, and to hate and never forgive. The other side is wrong because it is the other side. Dating, forming romantic relationships is just the canary in the coal mine; it’s an obvious place where modern people want to connect.
A man named Dale Carnegie published a book, in 1936, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” It was a best seller for two years, and it’s still popular. People bought the book because of they didn’t want to fail in connections with other people, and decades later, we are getting worse, not better.
- RELATED: How to win friends and influence people: Wikipedia
Christians were told by Jesus “Go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19) That’s a great concept, but I know if I say that I am a Christian, where I live, some people will walk away, and some will become angry. I will be a member of the wrong tribe.
How is it possible to make any connection, in our modern times?
We could do what Jesus did, in His intolerant times; 1) Attract, 2) Inform, 3) Activate. I have seen this pattern in Bible stories, for many years, but I just realized how important this is in our modern world. Each phase is critical:
I know a man who was young once, and he met a girl. They decided to be mature and talk about future possibilities, and she named an expensive restaurant where he could take her. The event at the restaurant started with her giving him a detailed and comprehensive list of things he had to do for her. When she finished, he wasn’t sure what to say, but what came from him was a question. “And um how do you feel about me?”
He still remembers the stunned silence and the angry glare from across the table. Apparently, the conversation was not about him. If you are wondering, that romance died, at that moment, and they both lost interest. He later married someone else, and today he is a family man, with grandchildren.
One reason why casual ‘hook up’ sex is wrong, is because it doesn’t help people to communicate. It prevents communication and ensures that the two people can never form a healthy relationship. The fictional couple at the demonstration are another example; shouting is not communication; destruction is not construction. Connecting with others is a project, and it requires communication.
We used to call this marriage. The final phase, in romance, is a life together, an active thing. That is true for any human connection
I’m sure you understand. We progress, in human relationships, and we end with healthy connections that make life better. At any of the three levels, we can fail or we can succeed.
So, what does this have to do with Jesus?
A carpenter came from a small town in a poor northern province, and He was ‘despised and rejected.’ After several months, He was arrested and executed. Everything was wrong, for the start of a mass movement, but today, the Jesus brand is the biggest success in the history of the world. More people call themselves ‘Christian’ than any other name. The numbers are in the billions and still growing.
That guy knew something, and we should listen to His advice.
The pattern is clear. Chapter 4 of the Bible book of “Mark” is a good example of the method of this early Dale Carnegie:
- People were inspired by thought-provoking stories, parables, and dropping out was almost encouraged at this stage “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” (verse 9)
- Inspiration was changed to information. “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?” (verse 13)
- It all became an active lifestyle. After the stories and the teaching, they crossed a lake in a boat, and they were almost drowned in a storm. Jesus calmed the storm for them. He acted and then said “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (verse 40).
One, two, and three; and the world was never the same. I think we read these Bible stories so often that we miss the point. We are directed to a revolution that will change our world, and it fits perfectly into our culture. Dating advice is a small part of this. Our creator wants to connect with us in our severely disconnected world.