Common ground

Cross at sunset

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 9:19-27

So, how does a Caucasian, English-speaking, middle-class American talk about Jesus with a group of indigenous people in Panama who do not speak English?

That was the question I was talking with the Lord about all day before the evening gathering where I was slated to preach through an interpreter.

During that day, I noticed one of the family matriarchs had placed an old pot with fresh water at the bottom of the ladder that led up to her hut.

No dirty feet were getting into her house!

That familiar picture allowed me to share with the people that Jesus came to take our dirt/sin away so we could come into the heavenly father’s house.

Paul faced the same challenge everywhere he went with the Good News of Jesus.

His audiences were as diverse as any.

Different races. Different socio-economic statuses. Different languages. Different religious backgrounds. Different countries.

Different everything.

He was convinced the messenger should make every effort to not be a distraction to the message, the message of Jesus.

He described the intensity with which he sought to find common ground with people — the same as an athlete training for the Olympics.

He wanted more than anything else for people to come to know Jesus as their Savior.

Our culture attempts to position us as adversaries. People who are unlike us are to be opposed, or at best, ignored.

There’s “us,” and there’s “them.”

It’s so hard to find a way to connect with people who are unlike us, especially when they are antagonistic toward us.

So, what do we do?

Pray. Serve. Watch. Wait. Share.

Looking at Paul’s life, we see how hard this was, how costly it was to find common ground.

It’s so much easier to simply pool up with people just like us, because like water we most often look for the path of least resistance.

How different would our lives be if we, like Paul, “did everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings”?

Just passing through

Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered — how fleeting my life is.

Psalm 39

I’m the Monday drop-off and pick-up. The teacher slides the minivan door open, unbuckles her from her car seat and with a hug, a kiss on my cheek and an “I love you, Pop-pop!”, off she heads into preschool. Yesterday, I dropped her mother off for kindergarten with a hug, a kiss on my cheek and an “I love you, Daddy!” Two little girls separated by 25 years by the calendar, but by nothing in my heart and mind.

I have no doubt that David pondered such thoughts as his little kids ran all around the palace underfoot providing laughter and joy to him, only to turn around and bump into their children. The brevity of life is often times lost in the busyness of life. At best, each of us is but a breath. A lifetime, a moment — both are fleeting, water spilled on the ground, unable to be recaptured. In his reflections, David remembers and reminds that we are here as the Lord’s guest.

We’re not big fans of these types of thoughts, which is one of the many reasons why we need to think them. We have such a hard time thinking beyond the end of the moment we are living. We tend to leave the deep thoughts for the valley of the shadow of death. This isn’t good. Our opportunity to be family in God’s eternal home is determined by who we choose to place our hope in while we are a guest in this temporary home.

Wiles is senior minister of Fall Creek Christian Church in Pendleton. He can be reached at 765-778-3166.