The ‘others’ are not just those who agree with our position.
(Notice how I gave that sentence a space of its own? In my opinion, it’s that important).
When we only have conversations about our beliefs with only those who agree with our positions, it isn’t an honest conversation. Don’t get me wrong. We need fellowship with fellow believers that encourages, and strengthens us. However, we also need to cut the eye-teeth of our beliefs in the arena where iron sharpens iron.
Sadly, a great deal of the time, Christians use the Bible as a source that, in reality, shuts down conversation rather than encourages it.
Maybe we’ve all sloganed, “The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it.” As a statement of faith, it sounds good (on the surface). Problem is…it’s more often than not a conversation stopper.
When I say, ‘a conversation stopper,’ I’m not only referring to communication with others, but also God.
Isaiah 1:18, “Come now and let us reason together…”
The context of this charge is regarding sin. However, in principle, it is appropriate to apply to matters of faith. Interestingly enough, the Hebrew word that is used for ‘reason’ in this statement infers a challenging discourse. It is often used in the context of arguing a case or pleading a cause.
The phrase ‘come now’ is in the imperative mood which means the whole process of conversation/debate/arguing your case with God is exceedingly important.
If we are not expressing our hearts and minds to God, how are we going to hear His response. Btw….in my experience, His response is always full of genuine understanding, acceptance, and heart touching revelation.
Here’s my first bottom line for this article:
He says ‘come boldly’ to His throne of grace. (Hebrews 4:13) It’s the throne of grace, not the throne of judgment. So, make it a habit of communicating with the Lord about your faith issues. He welcomes you. Your concerns, doubts, and crises of faith are important to Him!
When you come to Him, He will not ‘throw scripture verses’ back in your face. He will not chide you for not believing His Word as you should. If He does speak the Scripture to you as His response, it will come with a fresh, liberating, enlightening revelation to your heart and mind that increases your strength, and your sense of freedom.
His objective will always be to build you up, stir you up, or comfort you. He obeys His own purposes of prophecy.
Don’t run in and run out. Keep the conversation in front of Him until peace settles over you. Jesus said, “Come to me, and I will give you rest” (literally, ‘rest you’.) – Matthew 11:28-30 It may take a while, but waiting will be worth it!
Here’s my second bottom line:
Growing in communication with ‘your neighbor’ is also vital to growth in faith. Honest discussion. Hearing each other out. NOT taking disagreement with your position as a personal attack on your faith.
It’s probably not God’s purpose for you to ‘set them straight.’
There may be more than one right thought on matters of faith in the human arena. If we don’t listen to each other, how will we grow?
Some of my most valuable lessons and convictions were birthed from open (and sometimes very hard) debates with atheists. Why? Because the sincere ones made some very credible observations and exposed weak spots in some places, I felt secure, at the time.
These conversations forced me to communicate continuously with the Holy Spirit. They also helped me develop a deeper humility of attitude than when I entered the communications. In the end, I’ve grown leaps and bounds in my faith. It has become more genuine and authentic than ever.
This principle also holds true with brothers and sisters in Christ that are on a different page than you!
So, we end where we began:
“Faith has a seed-bed. It grows in the atmosphere of communication and community. Communication and community with God and others.”
If you have any questions, or observations, communicate with me. I’m safe 🙂