The Whole Story

Read:  Acts 7

Before forming opinions and making judgements do you try to hear the whole story?  We live in a time in which people often form their next opinion to share while failing to listen to what the other person has to say.  Often we can grow, mature, become more knowledgeable, and even sometimes form a different opinion once we hear the entirety of what a person has to share.  It reminds me of a funny story I once heard……

One day an old man was casually walking along a country lane with his dog and his mule. Suddenly a speeding pick-up truck careened around the corner, knocking the man, his mule, and his dog into the ditch.  The old man decided to sue the driver of the truck, seeking to recoup the cost of the damages. While the old man was on the stand, the counsel for the defense cross-examined the man by asking a simple question: “I want you to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the following question: Did you or did you not say at the time of the accident that you were ‘perfectly fine'”?

And the man said, “Well, me and my dog and my mule were walking along the road … ” And the counsel for defense said, “Stop, stop, I asked you, tell me ‘yes’ or ‘no’, did you say you were ‘perfectly fine’ at the time of the accident?”  “Well, me and my dog and my mule were walking along the road and … ” The defense attorney appealed to the judge. “Your honor,” he said, “the man is not answering the question. Would you please insist that he answer the question?” The judge said, “Well, he obviously wants to tell us something. Let him speak.”

So the man said, “Well, me and my dog and my mule were walking along the road and this truck came around the corner far too fast, knocked us into the ditch. The driver stopped, got out of his truck, saw my dog was badly injured, went back to his truck, got his rifle, and he shot it. Then he saw that my mule had broken his leg so he shot it. Then he said, ‘How are you?’ And I said, ‘I’m perfectly fine.'”

In the Bible there are many times in which the whole story needed to be told to understand what God was doing and how he works in our lives.  Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin in Acts 7 is a perfect example of this.  He starts with Abraham and tells the story of what God has done and is doing all the way through the life of Jesus.  In verse 52 he tells them, “And now you have betrayed and murdered him.”

Stephen of course was the first Christian martyr.  He was stoned for his testimony.  People will not always accept the whole story even when it holds truth and explanation.  As Christians we need to continue to tell the whole story of scripture to the world.  It is good news that can bring hope and salvation through Jesus Christ.  As we converse with others let’s be sure to hear them out.  Let them speak, try to hear what they are saying, and then have a pleasant and peaceful conversation.  Yes, we can agree to disagree on various things in life, but we must be respectful and willing to hear the whole story before we form opinions and make judgements.

Make it Personal:  Try to be a better listener this week.  Let someone speak without forming your next words in your mind while they are talking to you.  Be peaceful and loving in your conversations with others and try to see the situation in their context or through their lens.  You may not always agree, but if you hear them out they may just hear you out as a witness of God’s story and God’s work in the world.

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church