Monthly Archives: April 2013
This post was inspired by a recent sermon I preached on the same topic. It can be found in it’s entirety by clicking here.
Don’t you hate it when people want you to take their “side”? They argue just for the sake of arguing.
I am sure there was a time in the not-so-distant past when the majority of people actually respected each other’s opinions and feelings, but today people are much more concerned with us knowing their opinion and making their opinion ours. You know what I’m saying right? You’ve probably been baited into one of these conversations (more like one way transmissions) lately.
“It’s the Angels. THE ANGELS! Hamilton, Pujols, and Trout! Amazing offense, phenomenal defense. Don’t you know anything about baseball? You’re team is terrible. The Angels are the best!”
“What? How can you say that about our president. He is doing everything he can to improve our country. He has done his best to clean up all the old messes and move us in the right direction. You’re ignorant if you don’t feel the same way!”
Has someone made one of those statements to you? Maybe it wasn’t about politics or sports, but there are an unlimited number of other things people try to “push” on us. I can’t tell you the last time I had a conversation with someone that didn’t include them trying to sell me on their opinion or idea. I mean how dare they try to tell me I am wrong and they are right. Why can’t they understand that I have a brain? I have a heart, an opinion, and a point of view too!
Then it hit me! I too was that person. I began to realize that every time I got into a conversation with someone, I was trying to share force my beliefs with on them. For me, the topics have ranged from business success strategies to politics to Christianity. Too often I would take these “conversations” to a whole new level. I would get my sword and my shield out to prepare for the fight I was willing to start…..and win.
It wasn’t long before I began to see what I was doing to others. I was doing the very thing that they were hurting me with. I made them feel like their opinion didn’t matter. I made them feel stupid for thinking their way was even remotely possible. So what would it take to change the way I engaged others with my opinions and theirs? Simply, instead of trying to fight with them I decided it was time to join them. Not to take their side and compromise my opinions or beliefs for theirs, but to come to their side with an open mind and attempt to learn the who, what, and why of their point of view.
This type of approach is especially important when it comes to the topic of Christianity. It is hard for me to admit this as a pastor, but most Christians do a terrible job of listening to what non-believers (people that are not Christians) have to say. They don’t seem to care about the thoughts and opinions of those outside their circles and it is such a shame for a multitude of reasons:
Typically more of the goings-on in a city happen outside the church circle than inside it.
There is much wisdom to be learned about the local church from people that don’t participate in the church circle.
When trying to engage the culture outside the church, it is important to know what the culture is all about.
Just because God knows everything doesn’t mean Christians do!
As a Christian, I think it’s time we go right to the word of God and see how God calls us to engage in conversation with people of other opinions and beliefs. In Acts 17:16-32, the Apostle Paul steps into a cultural context with which he doesn’t have much favor, and instead of putting up a fight with them he talks their talk. Paul spent time in the city of Athens sharing his heart for Jesus while listening to what they were saying. He apparently studied what was of importance to them (Acts 17:28) and he showed respect for them (Acts 17:22). Paul didn’t walk into Athens with guns ablazing but instead took his time to share in an effective manner. Surely he wanted to do his best to get his message across clearly and not jeopardize his opportunity by upsetting his audience.
What about us? How can we take a different approach to the same old fights?
When people are hanging out in the local bars until all hours of the night drinking and having a good time, don’t immediately attack their actions by labeling them horrible sinners. Maybe in fact they are there because that is where they have found a strong community of friends who don’t instantly judge the book by it’s cover.
Or the next time a conversation comes up on the topic of same-sex marriage, listen intently to why the defending party believes their side is the right side. Maybe it is due to the fact that they don’t believe in God at all. In that instance, fighting with them about God’s definition of marriage is pointless.
It’s not to say that we should never fight for what we believe is right. But each of us must do a better job of learning more about the other side of every opinion and belief. You never know when stepping to the “other” side wins that person right back to your “side”.
Summer is coming and churches everywhere are preparing their teams for missions trips. Maybe it’s a high school
group, a college group, or just a mish-mosh group from church that has a heart to go and reach an impoverished or unreached people group.
The planning and preparation required to go on a foreign missions trip can be so intense. Logistics, finances, passports, and clean bills of health. Who wants to go? Who can go? Will they get together all they need to in the amount of time they have to?
But what about the rest of us? What will we do this summer? Well as for me, I’m excited to say I’m going on a missions trip too. What’s crazy is I’m actually not going out of the country though. I’m not even leaving the state. Most likely, I won’t even be leaving southern California. So how do I claim to be going on a mission’s trip if I’m not really going anywhere? I think Jesus has my back here because He said…
Did you catch that? He said Jerusalem. And He was talking to a bunch of guys in……yep you guessed it, Jerusalem. Now, I am in no way discounting the amazing and overwhelming work that needs to be done all throughout the world. There are people groups all over that have never even heard the gospel. How will they ever meet Jesus if someone doesn’t tell them (Romans 10:14)? We must go to them. It’s not even an option but a necessity. I have gone to a foreign country on mission and it was an amazing blessing. And I will go again too! My heart is for the gospel to go to all the world. But what I am not going to do is miss out on my opportunity to go on a missions trip every day for the rest of my life.
I have family that needs Jesus, I have neighbors that need Jesus, I live in a city with surrounding cities that need Jesus. And others that don’t need to meet Jesus (because they already know Him) still need the love of Jesus. There are people within my local reach that need food, money, and care for the things they are struggling with. I don’t want to miss those opportunities because I’m in my Jerusalem.
What about you? Are you going on a missions trip this summer? If you are, I pray that God provides all you need to get where you want to go and that your trip is a magnificent work of God. But as you prepare, don’t miss the mission that God has you on every day. If you’re not going on a trip, realize that God already has you on mission right where He has sovereignly placed you. He is going to put before you opportunities every single day to be His hands and feet. I encourage you to look for those opportunities always, in everything you do. At home, at work, and at the grocery store.
You never know when your missions trip to the mall ends up being a life changing moment for someone God has divinely caused you to collide with.