“Fellow Israelites …
- from Acts 3:12 & 17
Twice in Peter’s speech in Acts 3 he uses this phrase: “Fellow Israelites.” We’re listening in on a family conversation. And it isn’t an easy one.
Later in Acts, we’ll see how many of Peter’s fellow Israelites turn against him, the apostles, and the fledgling Christian church. But that isn’t the case at this point in the story. At this point in the story, they were listening and engaged.
Peter focused on the common ground he shared with his hearers. They would have had similar experiences growing up: heard similar stories, encountered similar hardships and shared similar hopes and dreams. They would have had similar heroes: Father Abraham, Moses the Law-bringer, David the Giant-killer. They would have had similar core values and aspirations. Peter leaned heavily on this common ground.
This approach to conversation and conflict is rare in our day and age. So often we’re blindingly aware of our differences. We fixate on the things that divide us. We sling blame, call names, and assume the worst. We draw artificial and arbitrary battle lines and defend them to the death of our relationships. Surely there must be a better way.
Peter was going to poke at his fellow Israelites (as we’ll see in the next few days). But his decision to start with what they share in common teed up the conversation to be one that his hearers could hear.
Think through conflicts and opposition that you’ve experienced or are experiencing. What kind of difference do you think it would make to find common ground with the person/people with whom you’re in conflict?