By Allen White
The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.
He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away. Matthew 16:1-4
The last time the Pharisees asked Jesus for a sign, they came with the teachers of the Law (Matthew 12:38-50). This time the Pharisees came with the Sadducees. These two groups disagreed on quite a few things. But, they were united on one issue: they didn’t care for Jesus, to put it mildly.
They came with the same question about a sign from Heaven. Apparently, they didn’t understand the definition of insanity.
Jesus challenged them. He observed how accurately they could predict the weather, but they couldn’t predict the signs of the times. So, Jesus gave them a sign, the same sign He had given them last time, the sign of Jonah (Matthew 12:39-42). (Read “Killing Ourselves Over Things that Don’t Matter.”) Then, Jesus left.
Jesus offered less explanation this time than He did last time. He knew better than to cast His pearls before swine. The Pharisees had the answer. While others asked for a sign to meet their need, the Pharisees and Sadducees didn’t have a need. In fact, from their study of Scripture, they already had the answer Jesus gave. Jesus had better things to do.
Over the years I’ve had people call my office to lecture me on the heretical teaching of one television evangelist or another. I didn’t particularly follow these evangelists. (Remember, I’m an advocate for the separation of church and television).
I didn’t study their teaching. I didn’t teach their teaching. I guess I was just the closest person our church members could reach out to.
There were considerable degrees of separation between these evangelists and me. I couldn’t pick up the phone and call Benny or Jimmy or whoever else. We weren’t on a first name basis.
No, these members just wanted to be heard. They wanted me to understand what they understood. I let them talk. Agreed where I could agree, then wished them a good day.
Some fights are not worth having. Some points are not worth making. If folks have chosen to be disagreeable or to approach life with their own agendas, they’re not really helping us, and there’s probably not much we could do to help them.
Now, we could get all tied up in knots. We could study and explore all of the areas of their concern. We could fill our arsenal with all of the right answers the next time they called. But, they’re not interested in hearing our answers. They’re interested in informing us.
I’ve found that a little courtesy, a listening ear, a patient disposition go a long way in “helping” these folks. If you lack those things, I’ve found a headset and a laptop with a wireless connection help you to make the most of your time until they’re done talking (on the phone, not inperson).
Your expertise probably won’t turn them around. But, sooner or later, life will confront them with something that will make their concerns go away. Then, they need your help. Not your answers, but your help. Your relationship with them will speak far more than your convincing words ever could.
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