August 15 – Common Ground

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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)

Read: Nehemiah 9:22 – 10:39, 1 Corinthians 9:19 – 10:13, Psalm 34:1-10

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?

Respond: 

Dear God,
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.
Amen

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23 thoughts on “August 15 – Common Ground

  1. I love that perspective of becoming part of the culture, actually I have done that before but wasn’t really aware of it. I would mingle with the people to learn about their them first then I would present the gospel to them. So its interesting you brought that up.

  2. Oh Beejai, you have really touched me deeply this morning with this post! My heart is humbled. I do desire to reach the lost, the broken, the hurting, but, yes, you are right, I must learn their “language,” their culture, their way of life – I must meet them where they are if I am to teach them anything. Just like Jesus did. Thank you for this beautiful reminder ❤

        • Does the fact that the quote I used originally came from the Tao Te Ching make it any less true or relevant for the way I used it?
          All truth is God’s truth.

        • Are we talking about scientific facts involving the brain and body, or about God’s truth involving the soul and spirit? Jesus said, “Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17), not part of the truth. Jesus said, “The world cannot accept Him [the Spirit of truth], because it neither sees Him nor knows Him … But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth” (John 14:17; 16:13). Therefore, it is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, that leads us into ALL truth. How, then, can a Taoist, Budhist, Hindu et al., prescribe any truth for believers? — Are they not of the world whom Jesus says cannot even receive truth, let alone lead us into it? They cannot know anything about truth.

        • Actually, “All truth is God’s truth” is again a common quote. It is actually a paraphrase of Augustine of Hippo who wrote: “We ought not to give up music because of the superstition of the heathen, if we can derive anything from it that is of use for the understanding of Holy Scripture; nor does it follow that we must busy ourselves with their theatrical trumpery because we enter upon an investigation about harps and other instruments, that may help us to lay hold upon spiritual things. For we ought not to refuse to learn letters because they say that Mercury discovered them; nor because they have dedicated temples to Justice and Virtue, and prefer to worship in the form of stones things that ought to have their place in the heart, ought we on that account to forsake justice and virtue. Nay, but let every good and true Christian understand that wherever truth may be found, it belongs to his Master.”

  3. The challenge of loving well is why it’s hard to engage in conversation well. I find that my critical spirit and judgmental attitude often keeps me from speaking His truth in love. Thanks, BJ, for bringing this subject up with heart and hope.

  4. Thank you for sharing this powerful story and the message to meet people where they are. Respect and love went a long way in helping me overcome my fear of judgement and condemnation, so that I could open my heart and mind to the love of Jesus. Respect and love take patience. Thank you for your patience and your wisdom.

    • I have to use emoticons … it was a unique thought and there was no cussing or individual insult … when in doubt I dont engage and try to use emoticons to give what Im saying a little more, well to show people my tone 😀👍so … emoticons people, it helps me LOL 😅😆✌

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