Summary: HOW JESUS CONTEXTUALIZED THE TRUTH THROUGH CHALLENGING PEOPLE ABOUT THEIR VIEWS OF GOD, CHRIST, AND THEIR OWN HUMANITY - A Case Study in contextualization from Mark 12.
The goal of Jesus in every communication encounter was to challenge the people to their highest potential in the will of God. His infinite wisdom allowed Him to do what no finite mind could comprehend in entirety. However, His ideal contextualization process gives us something to aim for in our own efforts to bring the incarnation into people’s lives today. Jesus showed expertise in making his message relevant, appropriate, and need meeting by portraying Himself as one who knew how to deal with rejection from His own people. In this framework, He characterizes God the Father as one who is:
1. Trustworthy - The owner went away, entrusting His fields into the care of the cultivators. The Lord gives us the freedom and the responsibility to make something of what He has invested. To fail to create a harvest is a serious breach of trust. The cornerstone of effective contextualization is trusting relationships. This rapport bridges numerous gaps between people in ways that only the Holy Spirit can understand. Without trust in our communication, the contextualization process becomes virtually impossible.
2. Generous - The landlord gave the tenants a wealthy vineyard equipped with all the necessary implements in order to produce a harvest. Just as the Lord furnishes us with the necessary provisions in order to return to Him many souls, fruits of the Spirit, and expansions of His kingdom. Contextualizers are people who are willing to give with expecting much in return for their know that their rewards in heaven are great.
3. Patient - The master gave the people several chances to pay the debt they owed, but they tried to shirk their responsibilities. When we deserve judgment God is patient towards man not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. It is the kindness of God that nurtures us to maturity. It takes great patience to contextualize the truth to people across cultures. The numerous barriers, filters, and obstacles to cross-cultural communications necessitates patient endurance.
4. Just - The owner made it clear that someday God would extract justice to the violators of His rules and standards of righteousness. No one shall escape from being accountable on the final judgment day. Some people may take advantage of God’s patience, but eventually we will all be faced squarely with our motives and deeds to be reckoned accordingly. Contextualizers need to practice justice in the administration of their tasks without partiality.
Jesus also tells us something about Himself in these accounts:
1. He is equipped to transcend any topic at any level depth of understanding. He shows equal facility in talking about agriculture as He does with politics. Contextualizers need to be able to show a capacity to deal articulately with the Bible in light of the truths of historical, practical, systematic, biblical, African Christian perspectives, as well as with the hard and soft sciences. These presupposes an ability to make the academic practical as well.