Today’s New Testament lesson in the Daily Office recounts the story of Paul before the Council in Jerusalem. After being arrested by Roman authorities because of some perceived rabble-rousing, Paul is made to stand before the leading members of the Jewish community and give an account of this strange, new teaching about the resurrection of the dead.
Paul, clearly an astute observer of his situations, notices that his inquisitors are both Pharisees and Sadducees (Pharisees believed in resurrection, Sadducees did not). So, in order to weasel his way out of the questioning and to shift attention from himself to the internal squabbles, Paul uses this divide to save himself from their questioning.
Which brings me to my point: Christians need to be perceptive when we engage others when we are witnessing to our faith. In his testimony, Paul spoke of things that the Pharisees and Sadducees understood. Well done. In the same way, when conversing with others we need to start in a place that they understand. Pardon the extreme analogy, but you wouldn’t say to an Eskimo that something tasted as sweet as a pineapple. Duh.
This might be a sneaky way of engaging people in conversation, finding those places in their life that will help you make your point. The cool thing is that you won’t be the first Christian to do it.