Not too long ago, I delivered a sermon to my congregation about the importance of living out and sharing the Gospel message with people who are different from ourselves. After the sermon, a parishioner came up to me and told me that a Palestinian woman came into her office during the week, and she immediately felt uncomfortable. She admitted to prejudging this Palestinian woman and asked me for some advice to get over this prejudice and perhaps to share her faith with the Palestinian woman the next time she came in to the office. I told my parishioner not to share her faith yet. Before sharing her faith, I suggested that she first take time to listen to the Palestinian woman’s story.
Everyone has a story. A Palestinian woman in the United States, and especially in Alabama, definitely has a story. If we take the time to hear it, and to get to know her, we will start seeing her as a God-created human being rather than a media-driven stereotype. Hearing her story will transform the way we understand her, and it will help us to see her as God sees her. God knows her story. We should take the time to get to know it, too.
Listening should be the first step in sharing our faith with others. As Christians, we know that Jesus Christ is the answer. The Bible gives important advice about sharing an answer: “To answer before listening—that is folly and shame (Proverbs 18:3 NIV).” Listening demonstrates respect for others and establishes a conversation that is genuine, which is imperative for sharing our faith. As we continue to share our faith with others, I invite us all to make listening the first step.
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