HOW TO LISTEN WHEN YOU DISAGREE

WE MUST BE AWARE OF THE ENEMY’S SNARES

2-timothy-2-26WHAT SATAN FEARS THE MOST IS LOVE,

THE BIRTHMARK OF A CHRISTIAN.

GOD IS LOVE, AND AS HIS CHILDREN, WE MUST REFLECT THAT LOVE,

ESPECIALLY WHEN WE DISAGREE.

NOTHING CAN BUILD A WALL FASTER THAN QUARRELS.

quarrel

OUR ENEMY KNOWS THAT,

SO WHEN A SUBJECT OF CONTROVERSY COMES UP

HE IS FEEDING THE FIRE

HE IS FEEDING OUR PRIDE

SO THAT WE WILL BUILD A WALL

BETWEEN US AND THE ONE WE LONG TO WIN TO CHRIST. 

I HAVE LEARNED THE HARD WAY IN THIS REGARD.

AS A YOUNG CHRISTIAN,

AFTER COMING ON SO STRONG WHEN I DISAGREED,

A WALL CAME UP BETWEEN ME AND ONE I LOVED.

I HAD TO GO AND HUMBLE MYSELF,

ASKING TEARFULLY FOR FORGIVENESS

FOR NOT REALLY LISTENING TO HER.

I TOLD HER, “I SEE IT WAS MY PRIDE — AND I AM SO SORRY

FOR NOT REALLY LISTENING

TO YOU ABOUT SOMETHING SO IMPORTANT TO YOU.

I PROMISE I WILL BE DIFFERENT.”

I SAW THE WALL BEGIN TO MELT.

PERSISTENT LOVE CAN MELT THE ICIEST WALL.

heart-melting

In light of our desire to be ambassadors for Christ, I have found it helpful to differentiate between the “useless” controversies that Paul address in 2 Timothy 2:23, and “defeater” controversies that Tim Keller addresses. If possible, I think is best to just steer clear of “useless” controversies such as the one Jesus diverted when talking to the woman at the well — “Where is the right place to worship?” If the issue is only going to breed division, such as can easily happen in a political election season, why not just steer clear of it if possible? If you know you are not going to change their mind, why even go there? You will only build walls. 

But it is different with “defeater” controversies. Tim Keller define them like this: “I believe THIS and the Bible does not, so I cannot believe the Bible.” He gives the example of evolution. In a free optional sermon 


Keller’s view, which is interesting, is that “micro-evolution” (in which God began the world and intervened using some forms of evolution within the species) is one that many respected believers hold. It is “macro-evolution) that is a defeater, for it pre-supposes God does not exist. He also has an interesting interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2, saying the genre of Genesis 1 is poetry, so we are asking the wrong question if we think it tells us “how” God created the world. Instead, it has to do with “why” God created the world. You may find this sermon helpful, especially is this is a topic that comes up with you and others.

A common defeater today is “I believe that those who oppose gay marriage are bigots, and the Bible opposes gay marriage, so I cannot believe the Bible.” This, again, is one that calls for careful listening. Keller says to listen to a person so carefully (to hear and not to respond) that you can repeat his argument back to him so well that he absolutely knows he has been heard. I had that experience with a niece over a year ago. I asked her,

“Tell me your story on how you came to believe so strongly in gay marriage.”

I listened, (she had friends that were gay and longed for respect and love and intimacy). I repeated back to her what she had said. I wept with her over her grief for gay friends who had been hurt by loveless Christians. I told her that a lack of love is always sin. I didn’t say much about my point of view, though  she knows I feel God has reasons for ordaining marriage to be just between one man and one woman. That discussion may happen another day. But I did feel God’s smile on our interchange, and I sensed a wall crumbling between us just by my listening. Many of you commented on the John Augsberger quote last week, so I share it again here.

augsberger

The truth is, often ideas about homosexuality, abortion, pre-marital sex… will not change until a person becomes convinced that Jesus is who He claims to be. But they will not even want to consider investigating His claims if Christians are prideful, boorish, and argumentative. Don’t let Satan bait you to throw up a roadblock.

ephesians-6-12-we-wrestle-not-against-flesh-and-blood-orange-copy

So this week, after our Bible study, I’d love for you to listen to an unusual talk on “Intellectual Hospitality.” And then we can discuss that with one another with hearing ears. As with any message, sift it before the Lord, but I believe when you sift, some gold will remain.

SUNDAY:

1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

2. If you have any praise reports on reaching out evangelistically, please share briefly here to encourage us all!

MONDAY-WEDNESDAY BIBLE STUDY

I think arguments find fertile soil in our heart idols of approval and control. It is so easy to lose our vision and fall into the hands of Satan who is egging us because of pride or frustration to take the bait and argue. Prepare your heart with this.

3. When you have lapsed into arguments with an unbeliever, why do you think it happened?

4. Give an example of a “useless” controversy and a “defeater” controversy that you have heard come up in that last year.5. Read 2 Timothy 2:22-26

A. What is Timothy to flee and what is he to pursue?

B. If you are to be an effective ambassador for Christ, what does His Spirit tell you to flee and what does He tell you to pursue?

C. What are we to have nothing to do with and why according to verse 23?

D. What must the Lord’s servant not do and what must he be like?

E. If God leads you to correct your opponents, how must you do it? Can you give an example?

F. What is your overall purpose in any conversation with an unbeliever? (v. 26) Are you aware of this? Explain.

6. If possible, give an illustration of a conversation you have had which kept the above principles in mind or broke them and the result?

7. How could you avoid useless controversies on Facebook? How do you decide, before God, what to post? Do you think there is a difference between “useless” and “defeater” controversies on Facebook? Why or why not?

8. Let’s try it. You are talking with an unbeliever, and she says: “I think the stand Christians have taken against allowing people who truly love each other to get married, just because they are gay, is very unloving.”  What would you do next?

9. One more. “What are you going to do in this years election?” How would you respond and why? What questions might you ask to draw him or her out?”

THURSDAY-FRIDAY  Lecture on Intellectual Hospitality

10. What thoughts do you have on the above — either negative or positive?

11. What gold did you mine that might help you to practice intellectual hospitality?

SATURDAY

12. What is your take-a-way and why?

COMMENTS (204) Post a New Comment ↓
Reply

WANDA — THANKS FOR YOUR GOOD THOUGHFUL ANSWER. HAD A CRAZY DAY TODAY — SORRY ABOUT THE DELAY IN APPROVING.

I DO DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN DEFEATER AND USELESS IN THAT KELLER DEFINED “DEFEATER” AND I BELIEVE THIS AND THE BIBLE DOESN’T SO I CAN’T BELIEVE THE BIBLE. NOT ALL CONTROVERSIES FIT THAT.

 

THANKS FOR YOUR GOOD AND THOUGHTFUL ANSWER.

 

    Reply

    Okay,  Dee.  Thanks for clarifying again.  I think I was too pre-occupied when I listened to Keller to figure it all out.  I also saw how you clarified for Laura and those examples help.  

Reply

8. Let’s try it. You are talking with an unbeliever, and she says: “I think the stand Christians have taken against allowing people who truly love each other to get married, just because they are gay, is very unloving.”  What would you do next?
 
I would probably say something like, “isn’t it funny how some people are tolerant of homosexuame but not tolerant of Christians?” I would then wait to hear the response, which would most likely be silence. I would not like the silence and would probably say, “I believe that we all have sin in our lives and need Jesus. I want everyone to have the choice to make an intelligent decision about whether they want to be in His presence in heaven and experience the pain free, loving place where there are no tears or needs. By not accepting Him, by sinning (fulfilling our own wants), means we are destined for a place other than heaven. I don’t want that for you or anyone.” 
 

    Reply

    I think that is good Laura — but I think it might be more effective to start with questions and drawing her out. Like, “Tell me your story and how you why you have come to believe what you do?” Then I’d repeat back to her what she has said so she knows she has been heard. Then, if the spirit leads — you might go into the other — but is there a way to make it less confrontative? I’d love to see you try — for you are a wise woman.

      Reply

      Ok, I will attempt….I think what you’re saying is to ask more questions instead of “telling” her. Maybe this should be the discourse:
       
      “Have you read the bible? Are you aware of its teachings? Do you know it speaks of life eternal for all who believe in Jesus? To me that’s exciting! Eternity in heaven where no tears or pain exists…What a thought.” There is one thing though about having eternal life; because we love Jesus, we strive to be more loving and sin free, as Jesus was. We are not perfect, we try. Sin is anything that distracts us from the ultimate goal of being with Him. It could be eating, drinking, swearing, as well as other behaviors that are ground in this world. That includes homosexual behavior. Jesus loved. He loved the prostitute and tax collector alike. However he did tell them to sin no more. He wanted them in heaven with him, ultimately. He wanted them to love the things of this world less than those of heaven. Are you aware that marriage is a biblical covenant between man and woman and God? It’s not that I, a Christian, wants gays to be unhappy. I love them because I wish eternal life for them.”
       
      I know this isn’t perfect, but it is a start. I will think more.

Reply

That’s much better, Laura. Still, I see this conversation happening more after you have really listened to her, felt her pain, and articulated what she has said. You are still teaching instead of listening — and that may happen — but first you need to hear what is keeping her from Christ. You can’t really “can” a conversation for you don’t know how the Spirit will lead — but here is a possible scenario

After asking her to tell you her story and how she came to believe in gay marriage –she is likely to tell you that she has seen their pain and wants them to be happy.

I would repeat this back to her so she knows you really cared enough to hear her. I would say, “You have seen the pain of those who wish to be married but are not allowed. You have seen the pain of those who feel unloved — even mocked by those who claim to be Christ.”

She might agree and appreciate that she has been heard. I think you’d even be wise to apologize for Christians who have been unloving. I might say, “I too have seen those who claim to be Christians caring mean and crude signs, and I know God is not pleased with them. And I am sorry for that pain — and I know Jesus grieves too. I do see this differently, but I don’t want to push my thoughts on you — would it be okay if I shared a little?”

If she isn’t comfortable, give her grace and let her know that’s okay. That will go a long way. If she is comfortable, I’f she gives you a green light, you might say, “The Bible does say that God’s plan is for one man and one woman for marriage — and that may seem unloving, but if there really is a God who made us, He also knows what is best. I think the real question is — is there a God who has revealed Himself? Is Jesus who He claims to be? If there is, we should listen. If not, then we can do whatever…but I think that’s the first thing to find out. If you have never read the primary documents, you might consider just discovering who Jesus is by reading the gospel of John.

Then I’d leave it and not get into an argument.

Those are my thoughts, dear Laura — just sift them before the Lord and see what is left.

I love your heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

    Reply

    This is golden, Dee. Thanks for sharing so specific a suggestion! Questions, humility and careful sharing!

    Reply

    Laura and Dee–I’m so thankful for this dialogue–I need this! Laura, I related to your first answer to #8. I tend to “hate the silence” too and like to be direct! And then in reading Dee’s response, I think I very much tend towards teaching more than listening. I’m impatient. So much to learn–but this is really helpful. What strikes me most her Laura is your desire to try–I can get so complacent, but you have a fire within you to share truth. Love that!

    Reply

    WOW!  I am also glad for this dialog between you and Laura because now I feel like memorizing it!  Ha!  I know that may sound staged, but at least I want to “read it again and again” (like Laura said!) because this just does NOT come natural for me!

      Reply

      :-)

Reply

Oh Dee! You are SO good at this! I’m glad you are my teacher!! I will now read this over and over to get it into my thick head.

    Reply

    Oh Laura — I stuck my neck out because I have seen your teachable heart, and I see it AGAIN1

    AND THANKS DIANE!

Reply

Just thinking after reflecting more on #3.  I’m not sure that arguments with unbelievers are always bad. When the trust and friendship are there first, arguing can happen and not damage a conversation.  When I was a grad ass’t, one of the secretaries told a friend and me that we argued like we were married!  And we did have vocal disagreements (to the extent that I probably haven’t had with anyone since).  We also did quite a bit together — volunteered a little, he visited my church, etc.  But we REALLY did have different world views and backgrounds.  We worked together and shared similar experiences in other ways, though.  And he even defended me to unbelievers who thought all Christians were mean.  So… I do think that it can be okay to argue and tease when/if it fits the personalities and we get along well in the first place.  I could get away with saying things to him that others probably couldn’t and vice-versa because we had a friendship as a foundation. In this situation, I think part of what was going on was that he was a teaser and I rose to the occasion! And I would guess I stuck out my tongue sometimes, too.

    Reply

    Oh :-(   I maybe just changed my mind after reading the passage again: A slave of the Lord should not quarrel.  Now I also am thinking about debates where atheists (or whomever) and Christians “argue.”  (And how about political debates between candidates. Although I don’t know WHY anyone would want to do that, we sure need decent people there)

    Reply

    I totally understand this Renee, and I agree! I have relationships at work just like this ?.

Reply

To all of my beloved sisters in Christ here on the blog……realizing that it is late Saturday….and few will read this.  Words really are failing me, but I wanted to express how rich and real these past few years of being an active participant on this particular blog study has been.  Dee, my love, affection and respect for you as a teacher and servant hearted shepherd know no bounds!  :)  The Lord is doing a wonderful work in hearts through this ministry and the women who are a part of this circle of sisters are teachable in a way that sometimes seems rare in this difficult world.  I have been filled to overflowing with His Word, His Spirit and His beauty again and again because of how He shines through EVERYONE here…..like facets of a precious jewel, reflecting Him in surprising and delightful ways!  Jesus has been leading me, through a perfect storm of trials and new opportunities in ministry as well, to leave active participation in the blog for a season – perhaps a very long extended season – as I try to follow in His footsteps into this new phase of life.  :)  You are all in my prayer journal and will be remembered in prayer from time to time…..but I have also left FaceBook for the foreseeable future  so will no longer be privvy to the prayer requests….  :(  .  Some of you have my email info and of COURSE I would love to converse on down the line!  My heart is full and my eyes are filled with tears as I type…..but He is calling me to spend my time a bit differently in the coming days…..so there will be silence from my little corner of Maryland for awhile to come!  I love you all more than words can say.  

    Reply

    OH JACKIE. You have passed those tears to me. What an amazing woman you are and I am forever thankful to the Lord for bringing you into my life. Your example. Oh, your steadfast faith in the face of such fiery trials, the way you listen, and LOVE, so well, so deep and true. I have no more words, but this comes to mind as is fitting for my thoughts:
     “For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,  that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints” Eph. 1:15-18
    I love you Jackie!

    Reply

    Oh Jackie, I sure understand, as I have had my seasons away from the blog as well, but you will surely be missed.  You are such an encouragement and kind “listener” here.  Lots of love to your, dear one.  Hope to see you pop back on sometime and I know I’ll see you one day.

    Reply

    Jackie, I will truly miss you here.  You have such godly wisdom and a loving heart. I hope the Lord leads you back here, but I do understand. I will continue to pray for you and your daughter as you walk through deep waters. I ditto Lizzy’s more eloquent words. I was so glad to have the opportunity to meet you in person this summer. God bless you.

    Reply

    Jackie, :'(       I’ll miss you!  But I definitely understand the need to spend less time online.  Praying for God’s blessings on you and your family.  Keep us posted…

    Reply

    Jackie — you have been such a rich contributor and mentor and encourager here — we will miss you so — but understand your need and you have my blessing in abundance. 

    Father, I pray that You will continue to be with Jackie, guiding her, multiplying her many gifts to glorify You, and upholding her with Your right hand. Unless You have a better idea, I pray You will bring her back to us too!

    In Jesus Name

    with much love!

    Reply

    I too will miss you here Jackie! I have loved learning from you; your knowledge and wisdom is great. I will pray for you and your sweet family, and still want to come to the farm sometime!!

    Reply

    Jackie and all blog sisters.  
     Blessed be the tie that continues to bind.   Whether we are active or silent bloggers or taking a break from the blog.  
     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcYFtihSg_8
     
     

    Reply

    Jackie, I will miss you but do understand His call for you “to spend more time differently in the coming days”. I will stay in touch through Email (I would need to ask one of the ladies for your address) and also with Cliff.

Reply

JACKIE.……You have been cement here……you have tied together so much with encouragement, depth and grace in your thorough, sensitive, compassionate responses.  Not just your deep answers to the study questions, but your, tireless,  never ending encouragement of each of us.    I’m sad and stunned  to think about ‘the blog’ without you.  :(  I am also so sorry for all the trials that you are going through.   You have gone through one after another while you have been here among us…..and your burdens have touched us all.   I will keep praying for you and each of your precious family members by name.  Never hesitate to get in touch with me.  You really don’t know just how often you come to my mind……and even my husband has heard and remembers so many very positive things that I have shared with him about you.  I honestly.…..(and this is not flattery)  do not think I have met anyone else in my life who is like you, in my mind.   Your testimony, both humbles and encourages me so many times.   I love you and all I can say is that I am so blessed to have ‘met’ you here…..and you will remain in my thoughts and prayers.   And if I even dare say this….’Come back soon!’ :)

Reply

I have learned so much from your  Bible Studies. Be Blessed. Thank you.

    Reply

    Always nice to hear from our silent bloggers! Thank you~

Reply

Jackie you are so loved here. I pray for where the Lord is leading you. I see such a heart that wants to obey. I can ditto all of the above comments and if I ever get down your way would love to meet face to face. Thank you for all your encouraging words and the words that have challenged me when I have needed to be challenged. I LOVE that most about you. I will too continue to pray when the Lord places you on my heart which He does for you and your family.

Reply

Jackie, I will miss you especially and am praying for your choice to follow as God leads. Thank you so much for always having special words to encourage. Blessings and peace, dear one.

Leave a Comment

Comment (required) If this is your first time here, please comment then fill out your name and email as stated at the bottom. Dee will approve you within 24 hours.

Name (required)
Email (required)