The Oasis Reporters
May 17, 2021
By Tony Abolo
The fuller quote taken from John Chapter 1: Verse 45, states “We have found Him, His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph. He is from Nazareth.
But Nathaniel said to Philip – Nazareth ! – Can anything good come from Nazareth ? Philip answered, come and see “ – John 1:45, 46
To help us get into this scripture quote and connect with our subject of discourse, we would need to contextualize in the old Eastern and Judaic World, who the man/Jesus was and why there was this curiosity among the natives to “ Come and See “.
I am greatly assisted by an Indian Pastor, Ravi Zacharias, who wrote the book, Jesus among other gods’. Being an Indian, with its oriental culture, he could better understand and could explain the Judaic culture and times of Jesus. And also, other Biblical times historians, provide some contextual backgrounds.
Nazareth as a location, had an issue in Jesus time. It was a very native place, a bit like how Liberia as a country formed. Nazareth was a place for the indigenes who were home people, not immigrants from Egypt who having journeyed for forty years took pride in their mixed and influenced culture and behavior from outside of Israel and Palestine.
And so when it was said – the Lamb of God, a miracle maker, a Rabbi or Teacher of great wisdom was living in Nazareth, that seemed unthinkable. So the question I hope, now makes sense. Can anything excellent, superlative, exciting, novel come from the backwaters of and backward Nazareth? Can anything good come from Nazareth, Nathaniel asked ?
Okay, you will be in for a shock. Come and see !!. Philip replied.
It is extremely peculiar that in all of the stories you read in the New Testament, the scripture is silent about many things you could have been interested in and wanted to know. Like, what kind of home did Jesus live in ? What kind of carpentry did He do? How His home was furnished. How much did He make a day ? What kind of clothes did He wear ? What did He look like ?
Ravi Zacharias, answers those questions admirably well, in his book
This is where God’s vision of reality seeks to lift us from the enslavement and distortion of our earth driven view. Historic figures have homes to visit for posterity; the Lord of history left no home.
Luminaries have libraries and write their memoirs. (Jesus left one book penned by others, some 100 years after he had left this earth). Deliverers speak of winning through might and conquest. Jesus, He, spoke of a place in the heart “ R. Zacharias:
All that quote takes us to the famous, I have a dream speech of Martin Luther King Jnr, who said that you do not judge a man (or woman) by the colour of his (or her) skin, but by the content of his / her character.
This then inches us closer to our subject matter, how we should encounter and communicate with people.
Do we just conclude at first sight?
Do we engage passionately and intimately?
Do we look at the inner person or are we dismissive of others, through arrogance and pride, which comes with over confidence in ourselves and achievements?
I am not done with bearing down on the Nathaniel encounter with Jesus – because there is much more to distill therefrom. Of course, Christ knew that Nathaniel did not think much of Nazareth. But still, Nathaniel was brought into the picture. He was one of those so committed to truth that, when he was invited by Philip to come along, he agreed to go along, with a mind to dispel all the possible ‘fake news’ he has been hearing of Jesus.
As he came close within Jesus’ range of voice, Christ said- of course looking into his character and heart- as a model of how we should encounter others – “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false”. The model then is – Are we good finders?
Do we see other people’s good intentions or we input motives, wrong motives into them ?
Nathaniel was in for a shock and surprise. He came to check out Jesus, instead his own character was being unveiled.
“How do you know me” ? Nathaniel asked. And Jesus replied – “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you”. Do we always look at the surface, at a person’s face, or do we see the good heart?
As far as the 17th Century, Shakespeare in one of his plays cautioned that there is no way of constructing the mind, by a look at the face.
So, then, we have many lessons to garner, as Christians, as fellow human beings, certainly more than being just Catholics and Journalists.
We must then begin to see how to understand the human personality. I have never forgotten an inscription I saw at the EEC headquarters lobby front desk in Brussels back in 1975, which said, and I quote – You can never understand any person completely. You can only learn of him (or her) slowly”.
This takes us into a study of the Johari Window. The Johari Window is a personality guide into a study, both of ourselves as well as others. In the Johari Window Model, everyone has 4 sides. One side is known to one’s self called the Free area; where and what you know and understand about yourself and what other people know and understand about you: your values, personality characteristics and perceptions.
For example, your manner of dressing communicates something about you to others. The second part, called the blind area represents all those things about you that others recognize but you do not see in yourself. You may be boisterous or a shy person, someone different and lacks courage. This part of your personality only gets revealed when you have the opportunity to investigate other people’s perception of you.
In the third area, the hidden area, you recognize something about yourself but choose not to share it with others – like not revealing certain emotions that could betray how you really feel in certain circumstances, or perhaps some secrets of your current or past life, you would not want to share with your parents, husband, wife or fiancé.
Then the fourth area, the Unknown area represents all those things that neither you nor others know about you. Often those aspects are so well concealed that they never surface. They remain unknown to you and to all others. It could be your weaknesses, latent talents or skills that may never surface, either because life or you, yourself never challenged yourself. Hence, people jokingly say, cemeteries are full of unexplored dreams.
In the Johari Window schema, there are games by which you can discover how much you may be willing to reveal of yourself or how willing you are to receive feedbacks and criticisms.
In this Johari patterns, you will find that people who spend little time disclosing themselves or giving feedbacks are usually good listeners, are quiet or fairly shy and may be introverts.
There are other kinds of introverts, those who are good listeners, secretive and never disclose themselves. At other times, there are those who give out a great deal of information about themselves, but do not like to receive back much- the very talkative type.
There are still others who are open- they give out information about themselves and have patient ears and listen attentively to others as well as showing deeper understanding. They are the conversationalists and sometimes are the spirit of the party, friendly and centre of attraction in a party as they seek everyone’s happiness.
In the end, we are all so different, based on our upbringing, make-up, moods, circumstances and our sex make-up.
Men and women are wired differently as we learn from the book, Social Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman.
Therefore, judging others without care of the other person’s personality is a dangerous thing or an unwelcome attitude or best of all, not helpful in human relationships.
It is not idle, that the scripture cautions us: Judge not, so that you may not be judged. In the end, who is a really good person? Christ responded so well on this – “ Call no man good”.
And therefore in our daily encounters with people, Christians, Journalists, daily work-a-day persons, we ought to be open to everyone, acting Christlike by- going about doing good-as much as our kind intentions can carry us. Our encounters should rather be, a time to raise up our consciousness to things above; we should rather be engaged in intelligent and intellectual or even moral and religious discourses, rather than sitting down to make mockery, bickering, backbiting, slandering and criticism of others. If you have nothing good to say about others, then kindly be silent.
St Paul, in his letter to the Philippians Chapter 4, verse 8, is very clear on this. He wrote. “ And now, my friends, all that is true, all that is noble, all that is just and pure, all that is lovable and gracious, whatever is excellent and admirable-fill all your thoughts with these things”.
At Mass, before the preface, what does the Priest urge us to do? “Lift up your hearts” And we say “ we lift them up to God”. This is what St. Paul urges us to do.
This is the reason, I admire lessons we learnt in creative thinking and public relations. When you are versed in the art of creative thinking or Interpersonal relationships, you are compassionate, you do not giggle or laugh at others.
You consider the other person’s point of view in a conversation. You do not rush to contradict, but you seek to understand and gain knowledge – either a new knowledge or confirm your truth as you know it.
Bottom line, see people as God sees them. He loves us unconditionally and takes us, in our sinfulness, faults and hidden selves –just as we are.
That is how our God sees us and that is how we should encounter others- as God sees them- in their hearts”.
Who then are we? It is the way to engage others. It is the Christian way.
When Christ summarized the commandments or the Law, which was the first Law?
Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your might, with all your strength.
And-second- Love your neighbor as Yourself. Hear and listen to other people’s inner cries, griefs, joys, pains and concerns. Never be judgemental. Always-love your neighbour as yourself. That is the Law. There is nothing more to add.
Written by Tony Abolo
Former Mass Communication lecturer in University of Benin. One time BBC London correspondent in Brussels and now a media/PR Consultant.