Landscape or Portrait? by Deon Crafford
John 4:19-26; 39-42 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, AI)” data-cr=”#cen-ESV-26172AI”>“I who speak to you am he.” ……… (39) Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word.They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
Encouraging others in the Faith or towards the Faith is a fundamental part of our calling. Some may be decidedly more gifted than others to do this, but God has equipped all of us in unique ways to present a clear and present picture of who He is to those who need and seek Him. Too often though our interaction or communication with others is ineffective because we have not checked whether our orientations are aligned at the onset. So we keep encouraging each other (or so we believe), but because the departure orientation of each party is different, the efforts are likely going to end up worthless. Imagine you have to ask someone to draw a complex structure over a telephone. Before you is a sheet of paper and a drawing in the landscape orientation, and on the other side of the telephone line sits someone with also a clean sheet of paper, but in the portrait orientation. If we do not align these orientations at the onset, whatever drawing needs to be made will eventually be destroyed by the wrong departure orientation.
If my aim is to encourage someone to hold fast to person of Jesus Christ in times of challenge and adversity, but they have little or no knowledge as to the Person of our Lord, everything I say will miss the mark completely. As Jesus started talking to the Samaritan woman, it became clear that her orientation was completely different to His. He needed to set her orientation right first before the light went on for her so to speak. When that happened she was compelled to run back into the city and spread the word of the Messiah’s presence, and that encouragement in turn brought many to the Faith. Spiritual encouragement then is often dependent on reminding or educating someone first again of who Jesus is and what His relationship towards us holds. Once I am educated again, the encouragement that follows does not hang in the air, from whence it quickly evaporates, but it is grounded in certainty and knowledge.
We’re all called to be encouragers, but perhaps it would do us well to ensure too that we’re all equipped to educate people on the person of Jesus Christ first to ensure that our page orientations are similar. To me this means that we have to ensure our knowledge, understanding and experience of Jesus Christ is very much rich and alive. My words of encouragement will ring empty if the substance of my personal relationship with Jesus Christ does not propel them. So we’re left with this truth, that the effectiveness of my encouragement of others rely on the depth of my engagement with Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. May it be that our intent of helping others actually leads us higher and deeper towards God.
Love to all