kicking the soap box

Because of Heather's work with the interns here (and my interest in them), I've been trying to be more involved in some bible studies and group discussions. But it's not working. I just get too frustrated and impatient. And then when I try to offer something (or respond to what I'm hearing), usually what I say is so "extreme" that it's immediately rejected. So I feel like I'm not helping (and maybe even hurting). I've been feeling the same way during sermons at church, too. I get frustrated by what's being preached and then wonder if I should try to say something about it, but in the rare cases I do that people get pretty upset. Which can be damaging to relationships and harden hearts. It makes me think of Jesus words about not putting new wine into old wineskins.

So I wonder again if I should just avoid engaging in direct debate and discussion in those forums. I don't want to disrupt any good that's happening there, and I don't find the people that gather there being especially open to what I have to offer. They came to hear the pastor or bible study leader, and discuss with other people like themselves.

And I don't recall Jesus arguing with other scribes or rabbis during their teaching. He listened, and often critiqued them and their teaching later. And he responded to their (sometimes loaded) questions--but that was when they approached him (or interrupted his teaching). Otherwise, he simply taught those who were interested in hearing him. He didn't need to try to take over the pulpits of others because people would find him if they really wanted to hear what he taught. And those were exactly the ones who "had ears to hear."

Actually, it seems that Jesus didn't even try to provide direct or in-depth explanations to the public, "the multitudes," but saved that for his disciples. The crowds got only his little stories: parables. This is emphasized in Jesus' words and actions in Mark 4:

When he was alone, those who were about him with the twelve asked him concerning the parables. And he said to them, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables..."

...With many such parables he spoke the word to [the people], as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.

So I think I'll drop the group discussions and focus instead on writing stories again (to share with anyone and everyone). And not try to engage people in in-depth discussions and explanations unless they're coming to me and I get the sense that they're open and ready.

I'd do much better to forget about the crowds gathered around pulpits and soap boxes. And just focus on that one person God puts in front of me.