“We can find common ground only by moving to higher ground.” – Jim Wallis
Finding common ground with people can be difficult. It’s not just that we’re busy, though that’s part of it. It’s that we’re so busy that, when we have time to enjoy ourselves, we want to spend that time in the way that relaxes us the most. If you’re a runner, and you have time to relax on the weekend, you want to get out and run. If you enjoy sitting in front of a chessboard, you would tend to go to places where other people share your love of chess. Of course, if you never played chess, you would not find it fun or relaxing, and not something you would want to invest your free time on.
If we want to find common ground we must first find some shared interests. We must often, step out of our comfort zone to make a connection with someone. The ability to connect with people and share your own faith starts with being interested in others around you. We never know how the Lord will use daily situations to draw people together and to Himself. Faith and love are deciding to take a risk to have a conversation with someone that you wouldn’t have had on your own because you believe God put them in your life for a reason. When we put our personal interests aside we can actually begin to look around us at the people God has placed in our lives to love.
Philippians 2:4 says, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” You don’t see that too often: people looking out for the interests of others? Paul himself says later in this same chapter: “All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 2:21). Looking for the best interests of others is not something we do, but fortunately Jesus does. Jesus gave up His throne in heaven. He took on our human flesh. He lowered himself so low that He died on the cross to save us. No one does that if they are thinking of themselves. The way to look at the interests of others is to see that Jesus has your best interest in mind. Since He does, “look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others.”
Taking an interest in others starts in our families and close relationships, but carries into every part of our lives. We have the opportunity to build connections that will last for eternity. We have an opportunity to make investments for eternity. We make connections when we become flexible and figure out the best way to meet people where they are, respecting who they are and how they believe.
Our challenge is to create shared interests and connections in a way that not only tells people about the gospel but models it. Find common ground and start there. Talk about the common ground. Start getting to know people whom you don’t agree with, whom you don’t like, whom you think are crazy. Sit down. Share a meal. Listen to a story. Find some common ground. And begin to build on that common ground. You will begin to connect, to find something more, something greater, something amazing.
- Are we looking for common ground or common differences? What are some ways we can devote more time to building relationships or making current ones better?
- To what extent do you invest the necessary time and energy to make meaningful connections with others? What stands in the way? What choices are you making?