Acts 17:16-34

Chris Cross was always getting in a tangle. But it wasn’t that he was always getting tied up and knotted with string, it was because he always talked at cross purposes.

For instance, the other day, someone told him to look at the plane. But he didn’t look where they were pointing, and simply replied, ‘Plain what?’

The following day, someone asked him to tea. And later he was found at the golf course, waiting for his friend at the tee.

And the day after that, in a discussion about hobbies, someone told him of a friend who was into dyeing, and he spent the next two weeks looking for their funeral notice in the newspaper.

Needless to say, people found it very difficult talking with Chris Cross. Because no matter how careful they were with words, they could never be sure he would take them the right way.

Now of course, sometimes it didn’t matter; sometimes the result was just plain funny. But other times there were serious consequences. And there is no better example of that, than when a complete stranger tried to have a serious conversation with him.

‘God is good,’ said Peter.

And Chris thought, ‘Well, I’m glad he isn’t misbehaving.’

‘God is joy,’ said Peter.

And Chris thought, ‘I know Joy, and the last thing I would have said was that she is God.’

‘God saves,’ said Peter.

And Chris thought, ‘Why does God have savings? I wonder which bank he uses?’

Now clearly Chris Cross’s mind wasn’t on what Peter was saying. Indeed, Peter may have wanted to talk about God, but he just wasn’t talking on Chris’s wavelength. And it wasn’t necessarily that Chris didn’t want to know what Peter was saying, it’s just that the words that Peter was using had completely different meanings in Chris’s mind. They just weren’t speaking the same language.

But that wasn’t Chris’s fault. Peter had to find another way. And Peter knew, it was not going to be easy. So over the next few weeks Peter tried to see the world through Chris’s eyes. And with a lot of effort he came up with what he hoped would be a solution—a way of adapting God’s message to Chris’s understanding.

Now needless to say, Peter still didn’t always get it right, and Chris still didn’t see everything Peter’s way. But Peter was determined. The message was too important to ignore. But bit by bit he has some success. He also found that he learnt to see what he believed from a different perspective. And that helped him too. He also found that in no time they became the best of friends.

Yes, a very strange friendship at first, because of all the misunderstandings. But the more time they spent with each other, the fewer the misunderstandings became. So that they are well on the way to truly understanding each other. They also now have their friendship, which was not something in Peter’s mind when he first approached Chris some time ago.


Now in life we probably all know people who have a habit of getting the wrong picture. People who seem to live on a very different plane. And to be fair, we have probably all had times when we have taken things the wrong way too. And sometimes it was very funny, and other times there were serious consequences.

But if you met someone like Chris Cross, who always took things the wrong way, what would you do? Would you give up on them, or would you try and try and try, like Peter did? And how would you tell them about God? Would you use words which are strange to them, or would you try to use something that is more familiar? How would you try to talk the same language?

The Apostle Paul often found himself in places where the Christian concepts of God were not familiar. So to those who knew what he was talking about, he used one language. But to those who had no idea what he was talking about, he used another. The message was the same, but he adapted his words so his listeners could understand. And that sounds a pretty good idea to me.

So if you met someone like Chris Cross, what would you do? Would you just give up on him, or would you try and try and try to help him understand?

Posted 12th September 2019
© 2019, Brian A Curtis