Are you familiar with the saying, “you can’t understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes”? It’s about empathy. It’s about understanding. It is an expression that reminds us that we cannot truly understand what another is going through until we have been on the journey they have.
If you have ever been in a season of pain or trauma, then I suspect you know the power of having someone “walking in your shoes”. You know the difference it makes when someone takes the time to see things from your vantage point. Often their effort helps you look beyond your current circumstance.
Have you ever considered walking in another’s shoes when it comes to faith? How does the Buddhist, a Mormon, an Atheist, Agnostic or Humanist view the world? This is not about how to win an argument, but having empathy for the experiences, background, and belief which frames up another person’s worldview. It is about making the effort to know the person God loves.
So often when we hear the word gospel, we think of a story to be told or a message to be relayed, After all, the gospel is essentially sharing the good news. It is telling the story of the most remarkable demonstration of the love of God who sacrificed Himself so that we could be restored back into relationship with Him.
Yet, there is something inside everyone of us which hates being told what to think, but we love being heard, seen and understood. Jesus masterly demonstrated this attitude toward people. Whether it is speaking of faith and politics with a Samaritan woman at a well, or kneeling beside a woman caught in adultery, he demonstrated empathy with people. Paul following his example would quote Greek poets in Athens, deliberating acknowledging their thirst for truth and openness for the possibility that there was more they did not know.
Could it be, that part of communicating the love God has for all people, is to seek to understand and value another?
Perhaps next time belief or worldview comes up in a conversation, stop and consider the world through the eyes of another. Walk in their shoes. Understand their past and their hurts?
Could it be that we need to show people we care, before assuming they care about what we know?