We spent the Easter break in the beautiful city of Geneva in Switzerland, which is a melting pot of many cultures living alongside one another. Not a day goes past without one hearing French, German, Italian, English and Eastern European languages being spoken in the street.
I have recently been considering how communication takes place between people of different cultures. I think this is what Paul is talking about in our verse for today, as Corinth in the first century AD was also a melting pot of people of many cultures.
Some cultures will use direct speech in giving feedback, whilst other cultures prefer understatement and a cushioning effect, rather than too direct an approach. Some cultures like to leave a lot unsaid, whilst others like to spell things out in detail.
These differences can sometimes be misunderstood. The direct approach could be seen as rude, whereas the leaving of things unsaid could be interpreted as a lack of understanding or interest.
In trying to pass on the good news of the gospel to others, it would be wise to bear these differences in mind, so that we can convey the joy of the gospel and its lifesaving features as effectively as possible.
The apostle Paul says, ‘to win as many as possible’. Later on, he says, ‘I have become all things to all men, so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22b).
Whilst Jesus was physically present on this earth, He spoke the truth across many a cultural divide, be it in conversation with His disciples, with a Samaritan woman, or in speaking truth to a Roman governor. I pray that we may share His sensitivity towards, and His love for, the incredibly diverse groups of people that make our beautiful world such an interesting place.
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