WE MUST BE AWARE OF THE ENEMY’S SNARES
WHAT 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
12. What is your take-a-way and why?