Into all the World#6. “Understanding of the times” (1 Chronicles 12:32).

Into all the World#6. “Understanding of the times” (1 Chronicles 12:32).

At the risk of giving some mothers a heart attack, I believe that young people must be encouraged to pick up their faith and travel into other cultures. Tourist destinations are a good start, but then they should venture into the lives of the citizens. However, if they really want an experience worth having, they should seek out a job and share the joys and frustrations of everyday life. Nothing bonds you with the locals faster than being jammed together in a waiting room preparing to deal with government officials.

Never should Christians be thought of as disconnected and disinterested know-it-alls. We must be known for our willingness to allow our beliefs and practices to be constantly questioned and re-questioned. And what better way to do this than to be engaged with those who believe and act differently than we do.

It takes humility to accept that no one is going to listen to us unless they sense that we are genuinely interested in them. Seeking to understand their beliefs and practices helps you and them to effectively gauge the distance they must travel to get to the cross.

The Israelite tribe of Issachar was commended in scripture as “…men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do…” (1 Chronicles 12:32).

It should be a given that the ‘average Christian’ should understand the times, with knowledge of what the church should do to win the world to Christ.

This, of course, is understanding and knowledge hard fought for. It happens as we interact with the characters we meet as we traverse the pages of our Bibles. Their victories and struggles were played out before God and man as ours are. Through them and our preachers and teachers, we gain insight and skill.

To make sure that I have not left what I started, let me say again that I believe that young people must be encouraged to pick up their faith and travel into other cultures.

To have an “understanding of the times,” they must know what is going on, and that is something that has to be seen for themselves.

John Staiger

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