Blog Archive

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Finding Common Ground

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Sermon Parkrose 4/2/18  “Finding Common Ground”

 
I became a Christian in the Church of Christ at Grote Street. They had a very active Dorcas group while I was there.
1 Corinithians 9:22-23

“----------Yes, whatever a person is like, I try to find common ground with him so that he will let me tell him about Christ and let Christ save him.”

I find it a great joy to have the privilege of sharing my thoughts with this congregation when ever my name comes up on the roster.

I also have a similar joy when I speak in the 2 Renmark Uniting Churches occasionally.

It is wonderful that in the some Church denominations there is a principle, a Biblical principle I believe, of the priesthood of all believers.

In some traditions you have to formally trained before they will let you loose on a congregation.

That is not such a bad thing.

You would hope that with a well trained priest or pastor you would get given sound instruction.

In our passage today Paul is talking about how to win people’s confidence, he becomes all things to all people.

He tries to find something in common with them so he can engage in conversation that hopefully will lead to him being able to share the Gospel.

Do you do that in your own life?

When you meet someone new do you try to find out what their interests are to see if you have something in common.

I confess I do that all the time.

I know that Wilf and Barbara like bird watching.
So do I.

I know that Peter our Chaplain loves yachting and folk music and gospel music.

I was never into yachting but my dad was,
and I grew up a fan of Peter ,Paul and Mary.

I know that Shirley comes from Victor Harbor and that her family name is prominent in the early days of Victor Harbor.

I also know her son and grandson are involved with the same cricket club I used to play with.

I would like to think I could go round the whole congregation here and have something in common with everyone.

I don’t think I could do that yet.

I should be aiming at that though.

Mind you when you ask someone what their hobby or interest is you might want to make sure you have time to listen because they might have just been aching to talk to someone.

So when you ask that question you might need to be a little “long suffering” like God is with all the yet to be saved sinners.

Do you know that is the reason given in the Bible why Jesus has not yet returned as He said he would?

2 Peter 3:9

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

2 Peter 3
But don’t forget this, dear friends, that a day or a thousand years from now is like tomorrow to the Lord. He isn’t really being slow about his promised return, even though it sometimes seems that way. But he is waiting, for the good reason that he is not willing that any should perish, and he is giving more time for sinners to repent. 10 The day of the Lord is surely coming, as unexpectedly as a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the heavenly bodies will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be burned up.”
There are some great principles Paul gives us in today’s passage for what is really the art of Christian Conversation.

Remember that book that came out years ago?
“how to win friends and influence them”

My middle son gave me a copy of that one day and said "you should read this dad.
It’s been a huge help to me. My favourite book."
He is a successful Real Estate salesman at present and he amazes me with his people skills.

So let’s look at what Paul says, for as Christians, we need to win friends and influence them in the direction of Jesus.

"20 When I am with the Jews I seem as one of them so that they will listen to the Gospel and I can win them to Christ."

Paul of course had been brought up a Jew and it was relatively easy for him to converse with them.
In the same way it may be easy for us to converse with those of our own culture.
The dinky di Aussies!
Mind you the dinky di Aussies might be challenging for us.
Dirty jokes!,
Bad language!
entertainment that is very morally wrong,
to name a few.
20 continued."When I am with Gentiles who follow Jewish customs and ceremonies I don’t argue, even though I don’t agree, because I want to help them."
A good principle here to avoid argument.
Where people have their own beliefs about things like diet and even football it is a good idea not to argue about these.
Argument can quickly sidetrack you however much you think the other person is wrong.
"21 When with the heathen I agree with them as much as I can, except of course that I must always do what is right as a Christian. And so, by agreeing, I can win their confidence[a] and help them too."
It is a good idea to engage in cultural activities with others to the best of your ability without compromising your faith.
This principle of agreeing where you can without compromising your faith is a very good strategy.
There are times when you have to quietly and graciously disagree.
I remember a time when a friend was getting married and he was having what the call a “buck’s night” before the wedding.
They proposed a visit to a striptease establishment.
I politely declined attendance and gave my reasons.
To their credit all those guys decided not to go there also.
When I think about these strategies of Paul, and how we can use them too, an idea came to me.
By identifying with people where they are at it gives people a sense of acceptance.
They are appreciating we are showing interest.
The need for acceptance is universal.
Acceptance amongst family
At work
At Church
With your spouse
With those who care for you.
And most importantly that God accepts us.
Many of us suffer from feelings of inferiority and rejection,
But God accepts us.
He sent His son Jesus to die on the cross for us and draw us to Him.
For most of us who have become Christians it may have been as we have listened to a preacher do his thing.
But it is usually because a Christian has taken the trouble to find some common ground and befriend us and bring us to a point where we are happy to hear the Gospel and receive Jesus.
You know John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, his cousin, so that we would recognize him when He came.
And Jesus became like us.
He trod the same earth as us.
There is a wonderful verse that simply says
Ephesians 1
“6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;”

“Accepted in the beloved”
accepted by Jesus.
Accepted by God.
How wonderful!
As we go our separate ways this morning let us endeavor to find common ground with those around us.
Common ground is not hard to find if you are looking for it.
It can be simply that meeting in the coffee shop here is a place of common ground where conversations can start and friendships develop.
The bowls mornings that Dean and Valmai organize are a great place for common interest and friendship.
So lets communicate how God would have us do.
Full of accepting love and no judgement!
Let us be the bringer of the good news of Jesus to others.
Years ago in most Churches of Christ in Australia they had "Dorcas" groups.
These groups were based on the activities of Dorcas in the Bible. 
These were groups of ladies who met regularly making all manner of thins for people using their sewing skills.
It brought a lot of like minded people together.
Doing good things with their domestic skills.

"Acts 9


36Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. 37At that time she became ill and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in a room upstairs. 38Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, “Please come to us without delay.” 39So Peter got up and went with them; and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, “Tabitha, get up.” Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. 41He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. 42This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord."
We in effect, when we find common ground, can be the voice of Jesus to those who desperately need to hear His call.
Amen

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 Bible Passage

1 Corinthians 9:16-23Living Bible (TLB)

16 For just preaching the Gospel isn’t any special credit to me—I couldn’t keep from preaching it if I wanted to. I would be utterly miserable. Woe unto me if I don’t.
17 If I were volunteering my services of my own free will, then the Lord would give me a special reward; but that is not the situation, for God has picked me out and given me this sacred trust, and I have no choice. 18 Under this circumstance, what is my pay? It is the special joy I get from preaching the Good News without expense to anyone, never demanding my rights.
19 And this has a real advantage: I am not bound to obey anyone just because he pays my salary; yet I have freely and happily become a servant of any and all so that I can win them to Christ. 20 When I am with the Jews I seem as one of them so that they will listen to the Gospel and I can win them to Christ. When I am with Gentiles who follow Jewish customs and ceremonies I don’t argue, even though I don’t agree, because I want to help them. 21 When with the heathen I agree with them as much as I can, except of course that I must always do what is right as a Christian. And so, by agreeing, I can win their confidence[a] and help them too.
22 When I am with those whose consciences bother them easily, I don’t act as though I know it all and don’t say they are foolish; the result is that they are willing to let me help them. Yes, whatever a person is like, I try to find common ground with him so that he will let me tell him about Christ and let Christ save him. 23 I do this to get the Gospel to them and also for the blessing I myself receive when I see them come to Christ.