I was recently at breakfast in Nicaragua and my co-worker, who is fluent in Spanish, was discussing our order with the server. I was so proud of how much Spanish I was learning because I understood almost every word spoken. By watching the body language of both participants I was able to fill in the blanks. I proudly explained that I had understood the conversation and knew what we were going to eat and what was not available that morning. Except that I got it all wrong. I had heard the words, but I missed out on the context. And the few words I missed were apparently crucial to the meaning of the conversation. Some words were not used in the way that I thought they were. Evidently, I could not read body language either. I knew most of the words, but I understood almost nothing of the conversation.

Just like when people who are not Christians think they understand what it means to live as a believer. They hear words like church, forgiveness, grace, and baptism and they think they understand. But these words can only be understood in the context of our lives. They need to see us caring for each other, crying with each other, and helping each other see Jesus to understand church. They have to know our stories of what God has done in our lives to understand forgiveness and grace. They need to hear our “before and after” testimonies to understand baptism.

Sometimes they misunderstand our body language. They see marriage problems and think we are hypocrites. We see those same problems as laboratories of grace and reconciliation. They see our weaknesses and think Jesus does not change lives. We see those weaknesses and wonder how much worse we would be without Jesus. Some people think life is lived in a past tense. We believe life is lived in a present tense and will only get better.

Seeing is believing.
So if you think you know about us Christians, I would invite you to go behind the words and see the context of our life. I would be happy to talk about what these words mean. I would be even happier to connect you with people who would show you what these words mean. And show you what they could mean in your life. Write me at steve@hopeforlife.org or join the blog discussion at www.hopeforlife.org.

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