Have you ever experienced a tradition or activity that you thought was weird?
Or, simply found yourself saying things like, “I just don’t get it…”
Our tendency is to think that our perspective is the norm for society.
In these moments, we are not acknowledging the lens through which we see the world. We are not taking into account the vast cultures and subcultures of our world, country, region, and neighborhoods.
But this “weirdness” actually represents an inability or an unwillingness to realize that our way is not the only one. But you knew that; right?
We have to be willing to see the world from a different perspective, while checking our own.
In Matthew 13, Jesus teaches about understanding the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven. Those who listen to his teaching are going to be given greater understanding. He goes on to say “Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear.”
Several years ago I was introduced to the teachings and work of Mikhail Bakhtin whose work connects our approach to intercultural competency.
He said, “In order to better understand a foreign culture, one has to step enter into it, forgetting your own, and view the world through the eyes of the foreign culture.”
In other words, we have to be willing to intentionally look at the world around us from a completely different perspective while checking our own biases.
In fact, that is what insideout represents for me. If you haven’t noticed, the “insideout” logo is backwards and that’s intentional.
Think of the logo being printed on the outside of a t-shirt. And as you put that t-shirt on, you look outward through the front. The logo is going to appear backwards. You’re looking from the inside-out.
It’s a reminder that we have to be aware of the lens through which we view the world — those voices and experiences that have shaped our identity — parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, bosses, peers, enemies, etc. And we replay those voices over and over in our heads, don’t we?
To acknowledge and teach through this, I use three simple moves, Those moves are: Discover, Claim, and Live.
1) Discover — which refers to an intentional move to intersect and engage culture — maybe one that seems weird, different or foreign to you.
2) Claim — which asks us to rediscover from Scripture; from the gospels, ways of understanding our world, while claiming Jesus’ example.
And 3) Live — which challenges us to answer the “So, what?” question; a challenge to change and become a living example of Hope and Love to those around us.
Believe it or not, these simple moves, can help you find grace in the strangest of places…
Are you interested in making the world a better place? Then that has to start with you and with me…
What if we intentionally looked from a different perspective in order intersect culture, elevate the gospel, and challenge to change?
Rev. Dr. William D. Gibson serves as Director of Strategic Faith Community Development for the Greater Northwest Area of The United Methodist Church.
This episode of insideout was e-filmed and edited by Rev. David Valera. Valera serves the Pacific Northwest Conference of The United Methodist Church as Director of Connectional Ministries.
Special thanks to Rev. Craig and Sharon Parrish.