Jul 28 2019 How to Engage in Disagreements without Disengaging Friends

This is where we left off last week…

2 Tim. 2:23 24 And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,

So I wanted to put that up there – as we focus on the bold items… - so you can feel even guiltier this week than you did last week. Ha. If you do feel guilty, remember, we live in a world where quarreling is just something that people do. Think about in a marriage, there are often quarrels, and sometimes, they are not that important. So it is a reality for all of us, so we need to work on it together.

Cindy went to a place of business this week. While she was there, she witnessed the boss criticizing an employee in front of customers. I would suggest that this boss was not following this verse.

Often, we look at the political arena – and I don’t want this to be political – but we need to be transformed people who act like Jesus. Jesus always corrected with gentleness. Even when we think he didn’t, He did! I’ll mention that in a bit.

As we talk through this – we need to learn to live in our current reality – an antagonistic, filled-with-strife world – and we need to learn to do this in a way that is pleasing to God and winsome for the gospel. Whatever debates we engage in, our job is to win people to Christ! Not the argument! If you win the argument but lose someone to Christ, what have we won? Zero!

How we engage in the public debate – social/political/cultural/community/work – learning to engage as Christ engaged.

There are controversies and they are real. We can’t go long without running into issues that divide people and we need to engage in those discussions – in whatever realm or arena they are in. Debate and discussion is necessary and can be healthy if we learn to do it in a way that Christ would want us to do it.

Colossians 4:5 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Outsiders – those who are far from God – wisdom to make the most of the opportunity.

Grace – receiving what you do not deserve – unmerited favor. In your speech with others – make sure they receive from you what they do not deserve! Wow!

James 3:17 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

Wisdom – what comes first in the Old Testament? The Law – but then comes wisdom – and it expands the Law – and contextualizes the Law and puts it into reality.

Wisdom from above – pure, peaceable, gentle, full of mercy and good fruits –

In whatever arena, is our wisdom/communication pure – full of mercy? Mercy is not receiving what you do deserve. Do you communicate mercy and grace in your speech?

Jesus says this:

Luke 6:43 43 "For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from brambles. 45 The good person out of the good treasury of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasury produces evil, for his mouth speaks from what fills his heart.

Speech is always a reflection of what is in the heart.

We tend to excuse speech, unless it is directed at us. Here is what we do – we say, he is the boss, he pays the salaries, he has a right to criticize the employees in front of the customers.

The mouth speaks with that which fills the hearts.

Some say – but it is social media – that is how people talk on social media – Nope – they are revealing their true nature.

Well, he is a politician, that is what they do! Nope – they are revealing their true nature.

What does our speech reveal about our heart? Go back to an argument or discussion – did my speech match up to those verses.

Can I say – that is how it went for me? Or is there an area I need to shore up. Start with some small things so you don’t feel too bad.

Strife and Antagonism

Proverbs 29:22 An angry man stirs up strife, And a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression.

Proverbs 28:25 An arrogant man stirs up strife, But he who trusts in the LORD will prosper.

Today, stirring up strife and antagonism is profitable! You can make all kinds of money doing that on your YouTube or twitter – getting all kinds of attention. Children have known this for all of history! If a child feels he is not getting enough attention – they act up. Any attention from mom and dad is good attention – the problem, though, is we are talking about adults!

If you are a person who stirs up strife, you are angry, arrogant, or both. Filled with anger – or arrogant.

I think, what we have done – we are guilty of selective sin, condemnation, and judgment.

Galatians 5:19 19 Now the works of the flesh (the bad things) are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, (uh huh, those are all really bad things!) hostilities, strife (in the same list as sexual immorality!), jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things. I am warning you, as I had warned you before: Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God!

That is strong! We like to use this verse in certain ways and not others.

On the positive side – don’t feel guilty – we need to work on this together:

Seek Peace

Hebrews 12:14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.

1Peter 3:11 "And let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it.

On the positive side – what do we do with our speech? Seek peace and pursue it. In your job, community, church, cultural/political world.

What would happen if social media consisted of people who seek peace and pursue it? Facebook would lose most of its value! People love strife and it sells! We are talking about becoming an alternative community – people who seek peace and pursue it!

We need to turn these from cultural/political issues – and yes, we need to engage in the debate – but we need to do it as a kingdom thing – we are not citizens here – but an eternal kingdom – and someone posed this question:

Can a Christian be opposed to immigration – legal or not, if the immigrants are considered the least of these?

This is a divisive issue – and I’d like to move it to a kingdom issue.

We are part of the National Association of Evangelicals – That last word has gotten a bad rap of late – but it comes from the Greek for gospel – a gospel person. In our world, evangelical is a voting block – but that is not what it is about.

In this evangelical world – when it comes to immigration – there is a significant amount of agreement – and it is a big discussion among the NAE – There is a refugee and immigration crisis. Second – everyone agrees that immigration needs to be reformed. Within the evangelical world, there is agreement that there needs to be reform – the disagreement is how it needs to happen.

Most, when asked about immigration -most agree with legal immigration. Many Christians would say that certain aspects of our immigration system and laws are unjust, unbiblical, and immoral.

Just like there are other things that are legal, but immoral. And people are doing what they can to change those laws. How do we take this issue of immigration and make it a kingdom issue?

Leviticus 19:34 The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

The first thing we need to do – understand what the Bible has to say about this issue.

Aliens, strangers, and sojourners – filled with verses.

In the Old Testament – 3 commands to love – Love God with our hearts… Neighbor as self – and alien and stranger. When it comes to outright commands – that is what is there.

What we need to do when engaging – allow the scripture to inform the way we engage and the solutions to look for. The scripture will inform this area.

Second – this is huge – this which has turned into a political and cultural issue – is a huge gospel/kingdom opportunity for the church. An opportunity for us as Christians to engage in the gospel.

Urban Vision is a great example. They are doing a tremendous work with immigrants.

On August 9, there will be a cultural fest here in the Falls – to bring people together. The city initiated with churches – and it becomes and opportunity for the gospel and the kingdom. There are Christians going all throughout the world.

It would be great to get people who serve Urban Vision to share their stories. We have gospel and kingdom to move us forward – because that is what God is calling us to. It takes us out of arguing and anger and all that stuff – and allows us to serve. People can be reached with the gospel.

I have a friend who spends a lot of time in the Greek Islands where refugees are coming out of Syria – and Christians are there feeding and sharing the gospel. It is a phenomenal opportunity for the gospel!

Every week or two, at men’s group – someone has had the chance to share the gospel – this is what we are here for!

How do we engage the world?

Give a blessing

Not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. (1Peter 3:9)

27 "But I say to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (Luke 6:27)

How do we recognize high places that have not been torn down in our own lives? The most difficult high places will come in areas of strength… our shadow side. Let me give examples.

People with great leadership ability and skill – able to organize and motivate people – this is a great thing – we have all seen it in the church – people who use those skills to gain power over others and abuse it. I won’t give examples – but it is the shadow side.

Strong Christian with deep compassion – fairness and justice for the poor – the shadow side – excusing sin and improper behavior.

People who are focused on personal morality – shadow side – can become moralist and condemning of others who don’t meet their standard.

Peacemakers – bringing peace in relationships – a good quality – but they can avoid necessary conflict – because they love peace – and that is the shadow side of is.

Those who, when making decisions – focus on gaining wisdom and prudence – the Proverbs encourage that – but the shadow side – becoming indecisive and afraid to take a risk – paralysis of analysis.

Those who value excellence – demand perfection and self-condemning.

People who are hard-workers – pulled themselves up by the bootstraps – can become workaholics.

The servant – the one who is always helping – and we need servants – can have a hard time ceasing from doing and being still and knowing that He is God.

We can go on and on.

Romans 12:14 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse... 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

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