About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Relational Intentionality  


What you observe of a person is not the totality of who that person is.  That would certainly have applied to me in 1972.  Back then my long hair and beard portrayed me to be a LSD-crazed hippy; a social drop-out who indulged in the psychedelic world of drugs, sex, and rock music.  That was not who I was. 


I admit that my appearance was influenced by the counter-cultural revolution of the 1960's, but I was not a hippy.  I was a twenty one year old, drug free, sexually moral, born again of the Spirit of God, young man who preached Jesus to hippies in their cultural environment.  I preached in parks, on the streets, in bars, on trains, and in buses.  I proclaimed the gospel in schools, in a college, in our coffee houses, and even in the odd church, with the emphasis on the word "odd."  A church had to be a bit odd to allow a guy looking like me behind its pulpit.  Nevertheless, those who took the time and effort to look beyond my exterior without prejudice found my heart.          


Making a judgment based on observation alone is something Jesus does not permit.  Rather, we are to judge righteously (John 7:24).  That demands an "intentional" investigation of what lies beneath the observable.  Intentionality implies a purpose-filled determination to complete a task, no matter how difficult the task.  When applying "intentionality" to human relationships, I call it "relational intentionality." 


Relational intentionality is the ongoing process whereby we are determined to do what is necessary to discover the heart of a person that exists beneath that person's exterior appearance, mannerisms, and character traits.  Such resolve is important for Christians because church consists of individual believers who God has immersed into the lives of certain other individual believers (1 Corinthians 12:13 and 18).  The resulting God-chosen personal relationships require an intentional determination to discover the heart and soul of those to whom God has placed alongside in the Body of Christ, the church.


To the degree, then, that the individual is intentionally determined to look beyond the observable into the heart of another, and vice-versa, is the degree to which church will fulfill its mission to be the unified expression of Jesus to its cultural surrounding.    



Post Script

This article is a follow-up to a previous article entitled "Relational Autonomy."  Relational Autonomy works best when Relational Intentionality is being implemented in a relationship.  


Click here to read Relational Autonomy     


Photo of me in 1972




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