My brother Mark recently finished serving a Latter-day Saint mission in Recife. He recounted the following experience to us recently:
we had a funny incident on monday. we took this family we are teaching to a family night with a ward family. it was really good. they told their crazy sweet conversion story and then we ate pastels. (not the crayons the food) the funny part was when the member started talking about kolob and the theory of relativity and where god lives (he likes to study) and the book of abraham etc. bless his little heart, but our investigator asked him a quite serious question. “o céu é o fim do mar?” or translated “Is the sky the end of the sea?” i didnt say anything, or laugh. until we got home (at 10:00 at night). then we laughed our heads off. but thats about all you learn when you grow up in the interior [or backwoods] on a cane farm.
So is the sky the end of the sea? I wonder how often I ask questions, both of God and my fellow, which make no sense because of my limited perspective.
In a broader sense, this is a marvelous reminder to always consider one’s audience when discussing anything, especially the gospel.
Now that’s no new thing. Both presentation and preparation are integral elements of our message and our messengers, and there is no room for arrogance or faltering in us. As we seek to live the gospel, we must truly live the principles we seek to preach, whether by sermon or counsel.
For though I be free from all men,yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews;to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
Richard Feynman commented that if we couldn’t reduce a principle of quantum mechanics to the level of a college freshman class (not necessarily mathematically, but qualitatively), we didn’t really understand it. It is too easy to toss around the deeper things of the doctrine of Christ without understanding the bases and without being prepared to explain them.
Jesus counseled us not to cast our pearls before swine. This is not meant as a slight on anyone investigating the gospel, or anything else–I myself am often the swine, heaven knows–but the point is that the sin is in casting the pearls where they cannot be appreciated (not yet!), not in the rending by the swine. We each have to develop slowly, along a unique trajectory only the Lord knows.
I guess what I’m trying to remind myself is to rely not on the speciousness of rhetoric or logic, but on the integrity and testimony of Christ. Sensitivity to each’s needs, without getting carried away by our own systematic philosophies, or the programs, or our judgments, is the keystone of sharing and loving. All things to all men, we can share the gospel.