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In the aftermath of the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, it is clear that black Americans and white Americans, many of whom are committed Christians, have vastly different perspectives on the trial and the verdict, and each side is saying to the other, "Don't you get it?"
Of course, in Jesus, we are all ultimately on the same side, and there is no black or white (or red or yellow or brown) in Him. But on a practical level, we often have different perspectives based on our upbringing and ethnicity and culture, and at a critical time like this for our nation, it is imperative that, as believers, we talk to each other, not past each other.
When I teach on apologetics, I often start by laying out two foundational principles:
1. To do good apologetics, it is essential that you understand the other person's objection.
Unfortunately, we often respond to what we think the other person is saying, and so we pass each other like ships in the night. A good way to avoid this is to restate the other person's position in your own words, saying, "So, if I understand you, this is your objection, correct?"
If you can do that to their satisfaction, you've already come a long way.
2. To do good apologetics, it is essential that you feel the weight of the other person's objection.
This is more easily said than done, since it requires you to get into the shoes of the other person, to see the world through their eyes, to be able to articulate a position you differ with, even to challenge some of your own views along the way.
It is a costly and painful process but one that is crucial if we are to reach those outside of our camp--theologically, culturally and socially.
How do these principles apply when dealing with the current racial conflicts in America?
As a white male raised in a middle-class, suburban home on Long Island and with a happily married mom and dad, I do not see the world through the same eyes as someone who grew up in grinding poverty on the streets of India or who was raised in the midst of gang violence in inner-city Chicago.
In order for me to gain these perspectives, I need to recognize the limitations of my own perspective and listen with an open heart to those from other cultures and backgrounds.
Having ministered overseas on more than 120 trips since 1987 and having spent countless hours with believers from other nations, I have a better understanding of how Americans are perceived in many parts of the world. Not everyone likes us!
The same can be said of us New Yorkers. What we consider to be normal, direct, appealing and even funny is often perceived by other Americans--especially in the South--to be arrogant, abrasive and obnoxious.
On the flip side, what many Southerners consider to be polite and discreet appears to New Yorkers to be hypocritical and deceitful.
Dare we listen to each other and, at least, become sensitive to these different perceptions? Dare we ask if everything that is our part of our culture is actually correct, let alone Christlike?
As I have listened carefully to African-American callers on my Line of Fire radio broadcast and read their comments on my Facebook page, I have done my best to practice these principles, asking myself where I have blind spots, trying to see where I have a limited set of perceptions that needs to be augmented by their different perspectives.
Source: Charisma News
Michael Brown is author of The Real Kosher Jesus and host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network. He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.