Back in May, I had a spirited conversation with Sean, our Pastor of Discipleship, where he reminded me that it's not just important that the content of my words be true but that they be said in the right context. Those two words have stuck out with me all summer: content and context.
Fast forward to last week. At 9 pm on Wednesday, I went out to the back lot behind a high school and played pick up soccer until midnight under the dim light of the street lights. I was invited by a couple of friends from UH, and when I got to meeting place, I found that everyone I was going to play with was hispanic. Now, I consider myself to be a fairly experienced soccer player. I am quick to respond, have very good technique, and understand the game very well. For whatever reason though, I could not seem to play effectively with these soccer players. My playing ability (content) was good, even great, compared to these guys, but I was still ineffective.
I sat down with my water bottle for about 10 minutes and observed the game. I quickly realized how much different their playing style was than mine and how we seemed to speak different soccer "languages." In instances where I would pass, they would dribble. In places I would take on a defender one on one, they would turn around and pass the ball back to their teammate. Many times, I would pass the ball in the air, but they seemed to always keep the ball on the ground. There wasn't anything wrong with how I played soccer, it just wasn't how they played soccer. Everything from their body size, to their height, to their culture culminated into a single playing style that they were in tune with, and I wasn't. If I wanted to play with them, I had to play like them.
"19 Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ. 20 When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ....22 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. 23 I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings." Acts 9
"if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing." 1 Corinthians 13
Ask yourself, how many times have I said something true to someone, only to have them dismiss me for it? Why is that? Is there a way you could have been more relatable and understanding of how they perceived what you said? You see Paul was very familiar with this and went to great lengths to be his audience. He ate what they ate, observed their tradition, became part of their culture so that when we told them truth in the form of the Gospel of Christ, they heard it and embraced it. He didn't let his tradition or culture get in the way of Jesus Christ.
So COTHA members and families, I have a question for you. Do you let your culture and the "way you do things" get in the way of Jesus Christ? Do you have good content but miss the context? If so, I challenge you to put aside YOU for a moment and become relatable to the people that need to hear the truth.