I watched as a shoreline drifted into view from the deck of the ferry. The sky scrapers were the most obvious feature, cutting the horizon like the distinct ridges of a key.
This was a distinct city. A distinct people. A distinct culture. Yet as we walked around, I saw the same homelessness, the same couples holding hands, the same game of trying to make sense of the case of deli cheese. Life is an adventure that we all live in little distinct ways, but the same general outline. Like a key.
So what is the key to getting off the street and into someone’s apartment, history, individual story?
The apostle Paul practiced this a lot in his travels around the world. Acts 17 tells how he first went to the Jews, people of his own culture and background. But he jumped at the chance to speak to a group of intellectual Greeks as well.
“22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.”
He reached out to them in a personal way, approaching from their cultural understanding.
Each person is like a key with their own personal set of ridges and slopes. And Jesus is the master key-smith, the door where every key can feel welcome, if they are shown to it and venture to discover what is on the other side.
God, thank You for a wide variety of people who have created unique cultures. And within these distinctions, each individual has their own story. God, please help me to learn how to share Your love in a way that matches their key. To Your glory, Amen.