Scripture reading: Luke 16:19‑31. Text: "For I AM SURE (CONVINCED in the New International Version) that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38‑39. Revised Standard Version.

Professionals strongly recommend COMMUNICATION should take place between disagreeing parties and among people in general. What are the purposes and the goals of communication? They are not only to share ideas, exchange views, and to learn about how others think but also to convince him/her/them that I am or we are right. This opens not only a can of worms but also a box of dynamite or throws a spark into a powder keg.

IS IT IMPORTANT TO CONVINCE? WHAT IS BEHIND THE PROCESS OF PERSUASION?

Please study carefully our Scripture reading. The rich man, who after death found himself in damnation, is asking Abraham to send Lazarus to his five living brothers to warn them “‘. . . lest they also come into this place of torment.’” 28th verse. The dialogue between them ended with Abraham's reply: “‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.’” 31 v.

The original Greek word that is translated to convince means, according to the W. E. Vine: An Expository Dictionary of the New Testament: "to apply persuasion, to prevail upon or win over, to persuade, bringing about a change of mind by the influence of reason or moral consideration." Please be careful because this Greek verb does not always appear in the original text where the English translations mention to convince or conviction, e.g. John 16:8, 2 Timothy 4:2.

CAN YOU CONVINCE OTHERS? WHY SHOULD YOU? CAN YOU BE CONVINCED? WHY SHOULD YOU BE?

The basic concept is, I wish to convince the other one(s) because I assume that I am right and represent the truth. Not the whole, perfect, complete truth because such truth is not represented by one person, but I feel that I AM MORE RIGHT than he/she is or they are not correct, therefore I wish to HELP him/her/them!

Due to the simple fact that we are human beings, we find ourselves on the "OPPOSITE SIDE" and gaps divide us and turn one against the other. Just to mention the most noticeable gaps: the gap between the genders, the generations, the social‑economical and the educational‑intellectual groups. And there are also racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural gaps. Do we all speak the same language?

There are stonewalls which cannot be cracked because you can never convince a mother about her child, a husband/wife about his/her spouse, an infatuated young one about his/her sweetheart, or a business man about a good deal when the profit is high and the business ethics are low. Also, you will not be able to persuade a religious zealot or a political fanatic.

Many (and I do not say that you do) belong to one of these three groups:

‑ the GULLIBLE. He/she can be easily influenced or even brainwashed.

- the STUBBORN. Their minds are like cement-thoroughly mixed, permanently set.

- the UNCOMMITTED. He/she is sure he/she is wiser than to listen to anyone, he/she

waits until the outcome of the debate, election, controversy and then makes a

decision.

Why is conviction and being convinced so important? Because tragedy can occur in two ways:

‑ suddenly or during a short period, like any fatal accident or heart attack, or

- as a result of many small wrong decisions which will eventually accumulate and

result in trauma, disaster, or total loss. See our Scripture reading, please!

Jesus' whole ministry can be characterized with these two words: FRIENDLY PERSUASION. His message was CLEAR, to the point but never FORCEFUL, like His "I AM . . ." statements in the Gospel according to John: “‘I am the bread of life.’” 6:48 ‑ “‘I am the light of the world. . .’” 8:12 – “. . . ‘I am the door of the sheep.’” 10:7 ‑ “‘I am the good shepherd. . .’” 10:11 ‑ “‘I am the resurrection and the life. . .’” 11:25 ‑ “‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. . .’” 14:6 ‑ and “‘I am the vine, you are the branches. . .’” 15:5. Who knows the future, to whom do we listen, and in whose interest it is that we shall be convinced?

The Rev. Alexander Jalso is a retired United Presbyterian minister living in Ligonier.

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