Intro: The other day John and I were able to enjoy brunch with some new members of our spiritual family. It was a wonderful time of sharing good food and fellowship. When we got home, John mentioned he was blessed to find he shared a lot of common ground with the one gentleman. Common ground is a pathway to meaningful communication in forming relationships. Common ground is also a pathway for the gospel of Christ.
In a culture that is ever-changing and people’s views of life can be extremely different, we must work at finding common ground with one another. Unbelievers and believers need this discipline. People tend to focus on personal differences, but God leads in a way that helps us actually see some similarities (2 Cor 1:4). For example, we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God with our lives (Romans 3:23). We have had different experiences in life, so it is best to humbly acknowledge the reality of that fact. We do not have to agree on everything; we are simply looking for some mutual interests or a place agreement.
When we are talking with someone new, we must be fully present and willing to listen to his or her life-story. Start by asking open-ended questions in order to explore and gain more information in a non-judgmental manner. Keep looking for points of agreement. When a conversation reveals some common ground, park there and talk about what you share that is similar. Jesus will be parked with you.
In our passage today, the Apostle Paul tells us one of the ways he shares the Christian life is by giving up his personal rights for the sake of other people. He allows us to understand that Christian freedom is connected to Christian responsibility; we are examples of Christ to others, so we must be careful. Paul’s goal is to glorify God and tell others about the strength and salvation of Jesus for human life. To fulfill his goal, he basically tells the believers at Corinth [and us] to find common ground with others, avoid being a religious know-it-all, make others feel valued and accepted, be sensitive to the needs of others, and look for God to open opportunities to talk more about Christ our Living Hope.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 NLT
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. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. 21 When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of 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.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for keeping us mindful of our Christian responsibility to love, seek to help, and restore others in a right relationship with you. Please guide me and help me find common ground with those who need you, today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.