When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. (1 Corinthians 9:22)
Relate: In the sixties, Don and Carol Richardson (no relation) went with their young baby to New Guinea to serve as missionaries among the Sawi. The Sawi were a cannibalistic culture and as the Richardson’s set about learning the language, they began to believe that the cultural differences were just too great to present the gospel. When they shared the gospel, the Sawi viewed Judas as the hero of the story. Lying and deception were huge values in their culture and Jesus was just the fool who let the enemy live among his group for years before Judas made his play.
There were three different tribes in that area which were fighting a long running, nonstop war and the Richardsons began to consider leaving for their own safety and the safety of their child. They had done what they could. As difficult as the communication was, the Sawi people had come to love and respect this missionary couple. So when they heard why they might be leaving, the three tribes all decided to make peace. As part of the peacemaking ceremony, these villages would exchange young children. As long as the child of one village was living among their enemies, there would be peace.
Suddenly, the gospel opened up for the Sawi people. Don Richardson shared with them how our actions have brought us into a state of war with God. Because God wants to restore peace, He sent His Son to come and live among us. Jesus is the Peace Child.
React: Don Richardson found a way to share the gospel with the Sawi because he went and lived among them. He learned their culture and language. He treated them with love and respect and in turn became loved and respected by this primitive group of cannibals. If he could do that there, why can’t we do it with our neighbor? Why do we insist on speaking a Christian jargon that others cannot understand and don’t care to learn? We are running around making ourselves outcasts in our attempts to change a culture we do not understand when we should be students of that culture seeking out redemptive analogies, common ground, we can find to point people to Christ.
When among Jewish culture, Paul became Jewish to reach Jews. When in Greek culture, he became Greek to win Greeks. Everywhere he went he sought the common ground that would help people understand that becoming followers of Christ is their only true calling. Who am I among? What am I becoming? Where is the common ground?
I want to go where You are. When You came as the Peace Child, You didn’t come for the healthy. You came for the sick, the lost, the hurting. You came for those who rejected and despised You. You came for those who didn’t even know that they were in rebellion to You. Help me to learn the world and the culture You have called me to live among. Help me to find the ways my neighbor’s language and culture points to You. Help me to seek out common ground that I can walk with my world in pursuing after You.