How do you feel when confronted by an opposing view on gender identity? Abortion? Politics? Or Racism?
These topics can make us feel uncomfortable, can’t they?
The very thought of bringing up controversial topics in church makes us want to run for the hills. We might say something that might hurt someone’s feelings, or even worse, jeopardize a relationship. And so rather than threaten unity, many of us reserve our comments and take a backseat.
Or maybe you feel differently. You know the truth. You’re well researched. And you’re confident in your opinion. So, you are happy to say what needs to be said. But maybe chiming in to give some thoughts isn’t your only goal. You’re in it to change minds, right there on Facebook.
But if we think about it, does avoiding challenging conversations contribute to the unity of the church? It doesn’t. Bulldozing someone you disagree with, in the name of the truth, doesn’t get anywhere either. Yet, most Christians fall in one of these two buckets—avoider or aggressor.
If we’re honest, most of us probably lean towards avoidance. It’s just easier. If someone says something that we believe flies in the face of Christianity, we say nothing. But not saying something is saying something. It communicates that we don’t care or that we are too afraid to stand up for God’s truth.
Think about it. How many times have you made an excuse not to jump into a challenging conversation with another Christian? How often have you let fear or not knowing what to say stop you from speaking truth or confronting a tough situation?
As Christians, we are not to remain silent. Nor are we to go from conversation to conversation telling people how wrong they are in the name of truth-telling. Just like Jesus, right? Wrong.
We are to fight alongside one another and not be so ingrained in our views that we stop building relationships with one another just because we might disagree on a few issues.
Our goal Christians should be to create an open space to have an intellectual discourse that honors the Lord. Think of challenging conversations as a necessary evil. No one enjoys having them, but they are essential to get to the truth and strengthen relationships.
Paul makes it clear in Romans 14:1 that we should not “quarrel over opinions” as we have difficult conversations but aim to uphold the truth of God’s Word. We can no longer let the fear of offending someone or fear of rejection prevent us from opening our hearts to one another and working through our disagreements. It isn’t about the art of being right. It’s about doing the right thing amid difficult conversations.
Our goal Christians should be to create an open space to have an intellectual discourse that honors the Lord.
In order to have effective conversations, we need to understand the moral stigmas and problems surrounding tough issues in the church. In my new book, Challenging Conversations, I sort through the difficulties related to depression, substance abuse, pornography, pre-marital sex, divorce and remarriage, same-sex marriage, abortion, politics, and racism—all while learning to engage with those of a different opinion than yours.
So the next time you feel the desire to run for the hills, or the chance to show someone the six different flaws in their opinion, think about being a conversant Christian. Educate yourself on the issue and engage in a conversation with truth and love. After all, that is the way Jesus did it.