How did Jesus preach the Gospel to a world in conflict with God? He, who was the perfect communicator, shared the good news in a variety of ways. Each means perfectly tailored to transforming the hearts of the hearers. He was fully immersed in the culture of first century Palestine, but was able to seamlessly identify when to embrace and when to challenge the surrounding milieu. My family recently moved to Lebanon. It did not take long for me to discover that my new Lebanese culture communicates very differently than I was accustomed to in America. In my desperation to proclaim the gospel I knew I had to grasp the complexities of these new cultural interactions.
I found myself reacting diametrically different in each conflict that arose in everyday life. Every time there was something that appeared to be an insignificant issue (or no one else’s business) I was faced with what I received as hyperbolic, dramatic, and direct conflict. Incidents include: Walking with my son in a street without sidewalks, sitting in the wrong spot during a meeting, and walking thorough puddles with an untied shoelace. Each time I experienced raised voices, eye contact, hand gestures, and a general befuddlement regarding my behavior. In contrast there have been mistakes I have made that I knew created tremendous hurt and breaches of trust, but I have never heard a word about it from the individuals involved. On the contrary, the people become even more polite and gracious in each of our direct interactions. Needless to say, I was bewildered.
This culture that led with emotion took captive all of their passions in certain issues and unleashed them in others. I realized that there is a foundational difference in conflict styles based on cultural values. Refer to the figures below: