Episode 2-2: Grace and Truth in Heat-to-Light Conversations

Episode 2 April 12, 2021 00:23:30
Episode 2-2: Grace and Truth in Heat-to-Light Conversations
Thinking Christian
Episode 2-2: Grace and Truth in Heat-to-Light Conversations

Apr 12 2021 | 00:23:30

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Show Notes

Someone’s brought the heat of cultural conflict into your home or your church. Maybe it’s their own dispute with Christianity, or maybe they need your guidance on an issue they’re dealing with elsewhere. Either way, it’s got potential to be difficult, possibly even to turn hot. Heat-to-light transformations depend on keeping Christ at the center and knowing what to say about the issues, but not just that. They also require that we approach them according to the character of Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

John 1:14 and 1:17 tell us Jesus was “full of grace and truth.” It says it twice, for emphasis, I believe. This is the way we must approach all our relationships, but especially interactions that have potential to turn hot. Today’s podcast is about walking in grace and truth, and how that looks in practice.

There’s more to be found on Jesus Christ in a free download. It’s an entire chapter of Tom Gilson’s Too Good to be False: How Jesus’ Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality. Find it here! And if you’re enjoying this Season 2 of the Thinking Christian Podcast, on “Heat to Light: Nurturing Spiritual Growth Out of Cultural Conflict,” please give it a great rating on your podcast app of choice, and click the “Follow” or “Subscribe” button there, too. Thank you!

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:22 Greetings. This is episode two of season two, the season I'm entitling from heat to light from cultural conflict to spiritual growth. Last week in episode one, I was focused on Jesus Christ because it's my conviction. As I hope it is yours, that Jesus Christ is the center of everything that we do in the Christian life, because he's the center of all reality. He's the center of all life of all love of all truth. As we encounter heat, as we encounter cultural conflict in the world, we have to keep our footing from, we have to keep our stance on the proper foundation, which has to be Jesus Christ himself. Not only because he's the truth, but because he is the life and he is the way the conflict that comes these days so much has to do with was saying that there's a better way. That there's a, a more good approach, a way that's better for people. Speaker 0 00:01:24 This can't be the case if it conflicts with Jesus and his teachings, because he is the ultimate in goodness in life. And by the way, I've written on this extensively in a book called too good to be false. How Jesus' incomparable character reveals his reality later in this podcast, I'll let you know how you can get a free chapter from that book, just free for the download. So you can get a preview of why it is that I say what I do about Jesus and his centrality and how you maybe even can explain it to others who would not be so quick to agree with it as you or I might be. So that'll come later in this podcast, but this is part of a season, which I'm introducing now in which I'm going to be talking about how we as church leaders, as even a parent's family leaders can help take the cultural conflict in which we are engaged in and move it from the heat of disagreement and dispute toward the light of spiritual growth. Speaker 0 00:02:26 We're going to see that conflict. We would run into it in media and social media all the time, but we're also going to see it in our families and our churches. And so on. We're going to have people challenging us about the truth, asking how it's possible, that the way of scripture, the way of Christ could be a right when, when the culture is telling us so many other, uh, other things are better. That whether it's from marriage to morality, to sexuality, to intersectionality, to whatever it might be, how are we going to be able to explain and move people from this? What what's almost becoming an overpowering movement towards, uh, new ways of seeing morality and truth and rightness and move them from there to the real truth founded in our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. How are we going to do that? Well, last week, as I said, I started with Jesus Christ at the center. Speaker 0 00:03:24 Really. I think that this whole idea of moving people from in moving congregations, moving families, whatever it might be from heat to light has three parts to it. The first one is the one I've already covered, but I'm certainly not done covering because it will come up in every episode and every lesson, every webinar, every course that I teach during this heat to light season of teaching. And that's the centrality of Jesus Christ. The second one is, well, the sequence is not important. The second one I'll mention here, it is knowing the truth and flip side of that coin, knowing and understanding the lies that stand up and contest the truth, understanding what God says, but also understanding what culture says clearly enough, so that we can give a reasoned and well-informed answer. And the third aspect, along with the centrality of Jesus and understanding the truth and being able to address the lies. Speaker 0 00:04:28 The third aspect is knowing how to engage with people. And there was a pastor who told me once when we were talking about one of these relevant topics who said, I don't know, Tom, I don't like debate. What he was really saying was that he didn't want to have the fire of, of dispute of confrontation in his church. He didn't feel maybe ready to handle it. Didn't think it was writer or whatever, but my goodness, you can avoid the debate, not without ignoring the lies, not without ignoring the truth, not without moving Jesus out of the center. So how do you do it? How do you have conversations about these hot topics without alienating people unnecessarily? How do you do it without maybe giving into people unnecessarily on points that aren't true? How do you do it and maintain a stance that is true and loving? Speaker 0 00:05:26 Well, Jesus himself sets a glorious example. I was first tuned into this by Dr. Henry cloud in his book, changes that heal where he pointed out it had already been there, but he really pointed it out so that I could understand what was going on there. Two very important verses in the first chapter of the gospel of John two places, not just once, but twice. It says in verse 14 in verse 17, that Jesus came full of grace and truth, grace and truth. We see here, the brilliance of Jesus Christ as caught by the apostle John who wrote this under the guidance of the Holy spirit, which is that he showed that grace and truth could live together. Could coexist, not, not just co-exist, but, but joined together happily in one person in one person's life and ministry and teaching that Jesus was not half and half. Speaker 0 00:06:24 He was a hundred percent gracious and a hundred percent truthful. His grace, he always delivered with truth and his truth. He always delivered in grace. That was Jesus. And we can see it all through his ministry. I'm going to bring it up to a more current story in illustration. I was new on the job in a new position with the mission agency I was working with at campus crusade for Christ now called Cru. And I had a new position there of being in human resource leadership. One of my first responsibilities, there was to follow up on an applicant that we had turned down at least temporarily sometime before. And my predecessor who had had this previous conversation with him, gave him both grace and truth. See this applicant had a problem. He had, he was struggling with, he was under the control, really of a problem with pornography. Speaker 0 00:07:19 And my predecessor told him, look, we can't have you on our staff with that problem. That's just not consistent with being a missionary in a movement like ours, but here's what we would like you to do. We'd like you to work on that. We'd like to give you some time. And he gave him some suggestions on what to do to try to help overcome that problem. Well, I called this applicant back many months after that first conversation. And it was just to find out how he was doing, or maybe he called us first. I can't remember. It was a while ago, but I do remember how the conversation went. He thanked us, he thanked me to pass along to the person he talked to us earlier. He said, thank you to so much. I am I'm finally free. I knew it was wrong. I knew it wasn't right, but I didn't know what to do. Speaker 0 00:08:05 But with your encouragement, I I've, I've confessed the sin to my pastor because it was, and I knew it was sin. I've I've gone to counseling. I've thrown away all my magazines. Of course, this was before the internet. And he said, I feel free and I'm moving forward. And I love it. And he was, so that was grace in his life that brought him to a place of doing the thing that not only was right. The thing that he knew was right, which was to be living free of this addiction. Yeah, of course we know that's part of a person's longer story. He ended up being accepted for our staff, but worked in a part of the organization of which I was not involved. So I don't have the followup. I do know though, that that was grace in the form of truth. The truth was you can't be discipling people giving them spiritual direction when you're under that kind of a burden of doing wrong that's truth. Speaker 0 00:09:05 But the grace that came with it was the grace that led him to freedom and of repentance that's grace and truth working together. That's how Jesus did it. Not every encounter turned out that well, obviously we, we know that Jesus had conversations with people where he was trying to point them towards reality, point them towards truth, point them towards the grace, that he would give them if only they would follow him and they refused it. And that's happened to me too. I've had conversations with people who were caught in, they would say caught in, or maybe they wouldn't even say caught in the, maybe they're happy in some kind of a sin, the staff member who at the end of the conversation I had with them said, because I'm committed to continuing in this sin. I am resigning two weeks, hence, and I said, well, you got the first half of that, right? Speaker 0 00:09:58 You are resigning in grace. I could not allow him to think that it was okay in any way for him to be living in immorality. That way it would've just not helped him at all. Let me give you some backstory to that though, too. This was one of those occasions where, as I was preparing for the meeting with this man, I, someone, I actually didn't know, but it was my job as HR director to deliver him a final organizational decision. And I studied all that had been done to try to encourage and coach and cajole and persuade him to do what was right and how he'd resisted. And I read all that and I had talked to other people who'd been trying to do that with him and love and hate resist it. And I was angry. I got mad. I got so mad. I knew I, I was in no condition to have this conversation with the man. Speaker 0 00:10:51 And I didn't think I could do it. Well, I went to a counselor, a wise man who listened to me and we talked about various things like, you know, the usual counselor question, why is it that bothers you so much? That kind of a thing. One of the answers to that is that he was doing wrong and Oh, we don't need to go into all the depths. Here's the thing he said, though. He said, you're not going to just make that strong emotion go away. How about accompanying it with another strong emotion in Mark three, five. It says that Jesus saw the hardness of the Pharisees heart and he was angered, but he was also grieved check the context. My counselor said, take some grief along with you, grief for the pain. This man is causing grief for the, for the pain. That's leading him to do something that he himself knows is going to harm himself. Speaker 0 00:11:49 And that helped put me in a position where I could deliver truth with an attitude of grace. Jesus always delivered truth with grace and grace with truth. He never waffled on the truth. Truth has much to do with standards with right and wrong. It has much to do with things like, uh, homosexuality practiced as a physical act is wrong. Lust in the heart for someone not your spouse is wrong. The, the whole mistaken view of humanity that's contained in the movement known today as critical theory, critical race theory is false. These things are in opposition to truth. Jesus stood for truth in opposition to lies. He said to the Pharisees that they were children of the devil, the devil was the liar from the beginning. He was the father of eyes. Jesus stood against the lie. We have a responsibility to stand against the lie, but how do we do it? Speaker 0 00:12:56 How do we do it? Do we do it in an attitude of meanness of judgment of condemnation? Or do we do it with an approach that says, I love you. And I want to see you come to, to understand the goodness of God. Jesus kindness leads us to repentance. There are some who would say that Jesus was all about grace. I just listened, uh, because it's my job to listen to these things. Sometimes I listen to a progressive pastor teaching that cause he was incarnational truth. We should all live our incarnational truths, which means we should all do what we all believe is right. And nothing therefore is wrong. Um, if I've misunderstood him, I hope he answers the email I sent to him inquiring for more understanding of what he meant by that. But well, he said it himself, uh, living in polyamory and homosexuality is Holy. Speaker 0 00:13:49 Well, no, that's wholly wrong. It's unholy. It's a lie. It's bad. It's false. This is grace. Take into the extreme, without a touch of truth in it. It's, it's floppy. It's flabby. It's without shape it's without foundation and, and it's, and it's wrong. There is such a thing as right and wrong. So we cannot allow in our lives, in our family's lives. The comfort of thinking that these things are, are without consequences. I mentioned Henry cloud earlier. Great teacher. I really recommend you study his books on boundaries. That he, the one that he co-wrote with his partner, John Townson, I recommend you study his book changes that he'll have a chance to study with him directly on that. Now worked with him in some ways. In fact, I designed and validated, uh, an assessment tool that he used for his one week intensive leadership training courses for quite some time. Speaker 0 00:14:51 So I have a lot of respect for the man. And one of the best things I learned was this two-sided coin of grace and truth. So through this series, we're going to be talking about truth. We're going to be talking about lies. You're going to be talking about how to confront the lie with truth. We're going to be talking about being prepared for the lies to confront us, but all the way through. I want us to keep in mind that we're not talking about truth and lies in a vacuum. We're talking about people's lives. People that we love, our family members, our church members, maybe people we work with or go to school with. We're talking about people who we want to win to life, not just beat up with an argument. That's what I want to keep at the center of everything that I present here. Speaker 0 00:15:40 Just as I want to keep Jesus at the center of everything, I want to keep Jesus approach of grace and truth at the center. You will not see me backing down on truth, but I hope you do not see me giving up on grace either. Now, what do you do when people don't respond to truth in whatever measure of grace, you offer it with another great teacher. In my opinion is Dan Allinder who in his book, bold love has a very, a very memorable phrase. He says, with some people you want to offer them what he calls the gift of consequences, the gift of consequences. What does he mean by that? Well, it's a matter of grace actually. It's, it's bold love in action from the title of his book. And along with other things he taught in there, of course, his point is that there are people who are content doing wrong, things that are hurtful, not only to others, but to themselves. Speaker 0 00:16:38 And if we let them do it without putting any kind of a barrier in the way, any kind of a boundary, if we just kind of go along with that as if it's okay, if we don't tell them it's wrong. If we don't explain to them and love how it's wrong, if we don't grieve with them over, what's wrong. And if we offer them no consequences, if we offer them no consequences, they will continue to do it. People change when they feel pain, if people are comfortable, they don't change. Grace sometimes is expressed in the form of offering the gift of consequences. It's expressed in the form of giving truth. It's no sign of grace. It's no act of grace to let someone happily live in a lie without having an explained to them in love. And in sometimes in grief, having it explained to them, listening, caring that it's not true. Speaker 0 00:17:32 This is how Jesus confronted the Pharisees because they were living a lie. They were stuck in their smug religion, ism. As I call it with others, you can see him waiting for the teachable moment, explaining the parables. For example, he waited for his followers to say, did you mean by that? What did you mean about the parable of the sower and the soils in Jesus and in the writings of the apostles, there's always this call to repentance, to recovery, to restoration, to renewal. When that doesn't work, there is unfortunately a move towards separation. In first Corinthians five, Paul speaks to the Corinthian church about the man that they've been putting up with in his sin of incest. And he said, no, you need to deliver such a man over to Satan. And the idea there was as most commentary there, see it, that he was to be put out of the church so that he could be disabused of any wrong notion that it was okay within the church to be living that way. Speaker 0 00:18:37 And the purpose, he says, the end of verse, verse five in first Corinthians five is that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord, that he would be brought back to repentance and renewal and restoration. Sometimes when all calls all, please all urgings to follow the truth, all of our best teachings, whatever, when it doesn't work, we need to let a person know that this is, this is wrong and we're going to put a boundary up against it. We're not going to say that's okay for you to do around here because it isn't. And then maybe they'll discover that it's not okay. This is a move towards repentance to now in, in Galatians six, where Paul teaches about this kind of a thing. He says that this is something that should be done by those who are quote spiritual and that they should look to themselves less day to be tempted because there's all kinds of opportunity here for spiritual pride to sneak in and to destroy not only the effort, but actually to destroy the one. Speaker 0 00:19:40 Who's making the effort to bring a person to recover into repentance. But he doesn't say don't do it. He doesn't say never do it because you might get yourself in trouble. Never do it because you might be too proud. Never do it because it's, it's, it's not living in humility. He doesn't say that kind of a thing. He says, if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore that person. This is grace. This is truth. This is the way that I believe we can move forward. We must move forward. As we follow the Lord in our pursuit of confronting heat or having heat pursue us and confront us and others, having cultural conflict show up in our churches, on our doorsteps, whether we want it to, or not. As, as we have these encounters with cultural conflict, the way that we should be doing this, the way I pray, we do it. Speaker 0 00:20:34 This isn't an attitude where truth is always paramount and work. Grace is always paramount and where in every case, we are hoping and praying and listening and caring and, and guiding the person towards the light of God's truth. The light of God's life, the light of eternal life in Jesus Christ, grace, and truth must guide us. I may not say that in every episode or in every session that I teach in a course or a webinar, but it's going to be in the back of my mind. It's going to be at the heart of the method. I hope to present to you as you confront the lies as you present the truth, just as Jesus Christ himself is at the center of everything. Jesus Christ method must be at the center of all our interactions. Indeed. His whole character of grace and truth for as John says so beautifully, the word came and dwelled among us. Speaker 0 00:21:35 And we beheld his glory glory as of the only begotten of the father full of grace and truth. Now I said early in the podcast that if you want to know more about this Jesus and things that seasoned theologians, seasoned writers and speakers on the word of God have said were really surprising and even brought them into a, a refreshing and new way of, of knowing Jesus. The whole thing is in my book, too good to be false, how Jesus' incomparable character reveals his reality, but you can get a taste of it, a free chapter download just by visiting my [email protected], thinking christian.net. Look for the sign up there where you'll find it in a pop-up or on the page where it says that you can sign up and receive that free download. You'll get free updates. Also from teachings that I'm doing here in this heat delight series to go with it, you'll be informed of what's coming up in terms of webinars, courses, seminars, and of course, teachings like this. Speaker 0 00:22:37 As I go along and examine some of the, what comes next, the confrontations, the heat that's coming against us in the church. And I look at ways we can understand it better ways. We can hear people, listen to them, care for them, give them that grace, but also offer them the truth. This to be found in a biblical and scriptural view through Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy spirit and with prayer. So go to thinking christian.net, download that chapter and consider buying the book because there's a lot more to be found in it that you'll be interested in after you read the chapter, I appreciate your giving me the grace and I, I pray that what I've been offering you has been truth. I'm convinced it is in Christ through the scriptures for the thinking Christian podcast. I'm Tom Gilson. Thanks for listening.

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