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Not Beyond Reach - Let's Talk about the Hard Stuff, Part 2

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
September 19, 2023 6:00 am

Not Beyond Reach - Let's Talk about the Hard Stuff, Part 2

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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September 19, 2023 6:00 am

Nothing has caused more animosity between the Church and the culture than issues surrounding sexual freedom, gay rights, and transgenderism. In this program, our guest teacher Aaron Pierce winds down his series, Not Beyond Reach. Learn how we can engage people on these sensitive subjects, with unconditional love without compromising the truth.

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Sexual freedom, gay rights, transgenderism. For the last few decades, these are the issues that have caused the most animosity and anger between the church and the culture. So how do we engage people on these tough subjects with unconditional love without compromising the truth? It's a tough one, isn't it?

Well, that's today. Stay with me. Thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Chip's our Bible teacher for this international discipleship ministry focused on helping Christians live like Christians. We appreciate you joining us as we wind down our new series from Aaron Pierce called Not Beyond Reach. As a staff, we've been praying that Aaron's words would deeply resonate with you and challenge us all to better communicate the message of the Gospel with today's youth.

If you've been motivated by this series, share it with someone in your life, won't you, through the Chip Ingram app or by downloading the free MP3s that you'll find at livingonthedge.org. Well, in our last program, Aaron explained how political differences have kept people from receiving the Gospel. Today, he'll identify the other significant hurdle we face and why we must approach unbelievers with radical love, empathy, and compassion.

Well, with all that said, here's Aaron for part two of his message, Let's Talk About the Hard Stuff. Sexuality is undoubtedly the issue that draws the most hostility from secular culture, right, towards the church. And if you're going to be actively engaging in secular culture, the topic of LGBTQ plus is unavoidable.

Like, it just comes up. And societal attitudes have changed rapidly in the last few decades, right? Those that identify, we talked about this, those that identify as LGBTQ has grown exponentially with each generation.

And so it's a crazy thing. And in today's culture, there's very little room for rational conversation that challenges the mainstream narrative. It's tough, right? Because discussions about LGBTQ rights are emotionally charged, and they're drawing on themes of justice and equality connected to the civil rights movements of the 50s and 60s. That's what makes it so hard, right? Because you don't want to be on the wrong side of history, and anything less than total affirmation of all things LGBTQ is quickly labeled as homophobic and bigoted. And it's a big challenge. Secular workplaces celebrate Pride Month with no regard for anyone that might not agree with it. Like, it's a really tough context.

And the allies, frankly, are the most vicious in their defense, right? So this is a really challenging time for Christians who hold to a traditional biblical sexual ethic. It's hard, and the thought of engaging these conversations can be terrifying and paralyzing. And so the challenge is, and what I want to begin to unpack, is how should a faithful flutter of Jesus live in a Pride Month world?

How do we do that? And so let's talk a little bit about some key assumptions. The first step in engaging this topic is to recognize that beneath the mask of intense moral conviction, there's actually deep confusion and brokenness. At the core of the confusion today is the circular statement, love is love. Now, this statement, as you know, is a banner for LGBTQ rights, and it implies that people should be free to love whoever they want, however they want. But the question, of course, is what is love?

Right? And pop culture messages and love are so confused and conflicted. I mean, love is sex, love is lust, love is a feeling, love is whatever I want it to be. And the reality is that we're just confused. And we are desperate for belonging and acceptance. That's the core truth that you can hold on to is that people are desiring belonging and acceptance, but they have no idea where to find it. Even within the LGBTQ movement itself, there's so much confusion, division, and incoherence. I mean, the L, the lesbians and old school feminists are fighting with the transgender movement.

I mean, because what are women's right if there's no such thing as a woman? Right? And mental health care is in disarray because no longer are we seeking to align people's mental state to their physical realities or objective truths, but instead align their bodies to their psychological feelings. Right? It's a crazy confusing time. And as we already discussed, as it relates to politics, Jesus' response to the confusion was compassion.

Right? That is always Jesus' response. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. So like Jesus, as we engage this topic, and you know, LGBTQ community and their allies, we need to start from a place of radical love and mercy.

That's where we start. So part of approaching this with love is approaching it with empathy, which means that we need to understand their reality properly so that we can have a better empathy. So while some of the explosive growth in those that identify as LGBTQ is just kind of just a trend, and oftentimes when people are looking for a place to connect and belong and be affirmed, they're going to identify this way. And so there's some of that for sure going on, but many people really do experience same-sex attraction. And they do experience, you know, gender dysphoria and other things that are confusing as it relates to their sexuality. And over the years, debates have raged about whether you're born gay or whether it's a choice.

And the truth is that the reasons are complex and they're not the same for everyone. And then we need to make a critical distinction between temptation and sinful action. It's a really clear thing because temptation is not a sin, but the action in thought indeed in response to the temptation is. And we know this because Hebrews 4.15 tells us that Jesus was tempted in every way, just as we are, yet he did not sin.

He was tempted, but he did not sin. And so the truth is that we are all sexually broken, all of us. Each one of us to some degree is the product of sin of others, our own sin and our fallen nature. And so that is why we approach this whole topic with humility, empathy and compassion, because we are all in that place of brokenness and it changes the approach and the mentality that we have when we gauge people. And then we can approach it with love and action. We've talked about this in other contexts, but one of the lies of our culture is that in order to love someone, I must affirm their lifestyle and behavior. And this is one of the biggest challenges as it relates to sexuality. And as we engage this topic, particularly if we're engaging people that are hostile as it relates to this topic, this is actually the first assumption that we need to challenge. Like we can't talk about, is homosexuality a sin or God's original design for the body. We need to talk about, can I love you without agreeing with you?

That's actually the first thing that I need to talk about. And so it's challenging, right? Because sexuality in our culture has been tied to identity. And so a rejection of my sexuality is a rejection of my core identity, which makes this so incredibly tough. So that is why the best way to challenge this lie, the lie is to love someone, I must affirm. The best way to challenge that is not to argue and debate, but actually to prove it by living out that love. That's the way you're going to actually challenge that lie is you're actually going to love them even though you disagree with them. And this doesn't have to just be people that are LGBTQ.

It can be someone that's politically on the other side or anyone that might disagree with you. How are you going to demonstrate that you can love them in action while not agreeing with their lifestyle? That's how you prove it by doing it. And so remember that people are longing for deep relational connection. Like that is an assumption you need to remember is always true. And so if you can continue to be a friend and develop authentic relationships with people, you are able to show them Jesus through your actions. And that is often where it starts.

And again, it can be really simple things. You know, I remember we were doing an outreach and a gay couple walked by and we had some free water. We said, hey, you want some water? And they're like, yeah. And they were like, what are you guys doing here? Oh, we're Christians.

They're like, oh yeah, well, we're not religious. And I was like, oh, okay, that's fine. And we began to talk and it's like, well, what's going on in your life and is there anything we could pray for you guys for?

And one of the guys' mom had cancer. And I was like, well, hey, can we pray for her? And they're like, yeah, sure. Can I put my hand on her shoulder?

Sure. And so I put my hand on the shoulder and just prayed for healing and also just prayed for God's love and just prayed for them. And the end of it, one of the guys looked at me and said, man, I'm not religious, but that was really cool. You know? And so it's the example of showing love, proving that I can love you and not agree with you, proving that. And that doesn't mean compromising our theological beliefs at all. Okay.

And remember that being in a relationship in association with someone is not synonymous with affirming their lifestyle. It's about challenging that lie that stands in the way of them meeting Jesus. That's what we're doing. Chip here and you are listening to Not Beyond Reach, our newest series taught by my friend Aaron Pierce. Before we get back to him, I want you to know that listeners like you help us support pastors globally, develop discipleship resources and spiritually engage the next generation. I want to invite you to join us today by going to livingontheedge.org with a gift that can make a difference. Now back to Aaron.

So give you an example of this. This is Josiah. So it's me and Serena and Josiah, we met him at a park and we started to talk to him and he's, it turned out he's kind of a pretty lonely guy and we started to talk to him about what's going on in his life. And he told us his life story and he had grown up in a Catholic church. It really didn't mean all that much to him, went to college, walked away from it all and ended up becoming gay. And he had just moved to Minneapolis, but he was pretty disconnected and he had a boyfriend, but they had just broken up and he was feeling pretty, you know, pretty lonely. And so we just began to talk to him and in the end we were pretty clear from the beginning that we were Christians, but we just began to talk and develop a relationship and ask him about other stuff in his life. Like it's not always about sexuality.

They have more to them. And so he was, he was, he was an artist and he was showing some of the art that he was creating and that he was working on a business and I was like, man, that's cool. I was like, Hey, I have a little bit of business background.

We should get together. Maybe I can help you with your business plan. And he was like, yeah, that'd be awesome. So we exchange contact information and a few weeks later we met at a caribou and we looked at his business plan stuff and we just talked about how can you, you know, how can you do this business well?

What are some things you need to be thinking about? And then I, and then I began to challenge him and I said, Hey, a couple of things that I think are really helpful when you're thinking about a business is that you've got to think about being in business is hard and you need to find something, something to hold onto an identity that can't be shaken because you're going to come across storms and you need to look to something that's going to hold you in the storm. And I said, for me, I find my identity in the unconditional love of God because no matter what I do or no matter what I, what happens to me, I know that that unconditional love of God will never go away.

That's where I put my hope. And I didn't tell him, okay, now you have to, I said, now you've got to find your thing that you're going to hold onto that circumstances can't shake. And then I said a little later and I said, you know, the other thing is just the goal of just making as much money as possible isn't, isn't enough.

Like that's not a good enough goal. You need to find a purpose, a purpose that is beyond just making money. You know, because I said, because I believe that each of us were put on this planet for a purpose and that, that we are called to find that purpose and live that out. And, and what I was doing, and I'll talk about that here in a second, is I was challenging the narrative that there is no purpose, that there's no purpose for our bodies and that there's no purpose of like trying to align ourselves to, to a transcendent purpose. Right? So again, I was having a spiritual conversation, not a gospel conversation, and I was having a friendship conversation with the guy who had grown up at the church but had rejected it and is walking in a, in a lifestyle in which he believes Christians are his enemy.

Right? So this is the kind of approach that we have to take if we're going to engage people in this, in this community. Now, a couple other key things to understand in terms of just when you're engaging the topic, because there are some key assumptions. The key spiritual kind of apologetic assumption that you're challenging essentially is related to purpose. Because the question is, is there a transcendent universal purpose for sex, marriage in our bodies? That's the question. Or are marriage and traditional sex ethics a social construct that can and perhaps should be abolished for the sake of personal happiness?

Like that's the, that's the question essentially that we're asking. Now in the secular world, meaning and purpose is self-defined. So there is no transcendent designer that has imparted a particular way to live our lives. You know, in this world, you sex, which is now devoid of the consequence of procreation, thanks to contraception and abortion, is, is a personal source of pleasure and self-expression governed only by the concept of mutual consent.

Like that's the only kind of thing that you've got to say within. So, so sex in any form or context that does no harm to others is viewed as the ultimate expression of freedom. And it's kind of this like liberating, unshackling of social constraints that have oppressed our true identities. Like that's, that's the worldview that shapes the kind of sexual ethics that we have today. And so you can, you can't be your whole self. There's a quote I heard in this conversation.

If you listen to the roles of others, it's kind of the mindset that you hear. Now, of course, sadly, the consequences of this sexual free-for-all is, is a completely different story, right? Loneliness, anxiety, depression are at epidemic levels, especially amongst young adults. Sexual violence has been linked to a copious amount of time viewing increasingly hardcore pornography and sexual satisfaction is plummeting. So sexual freedom has instead led to bondage and addiction. Now in the Christian view, worldview, because here's the, here's the paradigm.

We don't want to talk about what you can't do. We want to present a positive view of sexuality, a positive vision for sexuality. And in the Christian worldview, we were created intentionally by God. He created our bodies, minds and souls with a clear purpose and a way to operate them as revealed in the Bible that will allow us to thrive, to thrive spiritually, physically, emotionally and sexually. So God's designed for sex and marriage and our body is not about control or limiting our happiness. It's about protecting us from harm and allowing us to thrive.

That's why he's created his, his way of doing things. And this is true in other areas as well. And this is one of the ways you can kind of make this logical leap because the more scientists discover about the body, let's say as it relates to nutrition and exercise, the more we can align ourselves to that truth, right? Like there's certain foods that we're learning, well, this is not really good for us, so I should stop doing that so I can live in alignment with the truth of how my body was designed to operate. And that is a truth that secular culture will buy into by and large, right? And it's the same truth as it, as it relates to our sexuality because what happens is we're trying to approach someone with love and we want to point them to Jesus, but inevitably you're going to have someone say, well, is homosexuality a sin?

Do you affirm homosexuals? And dodging that question at that point is just unhelpful, right? So, so what do you do in that moment?

Here's how I think you should handle it. First of all, I usually respond to those, well, do you really want to know? And what I'm begging the question there is, are you, do you really want to hear what I have to say or are you just kind of looking to fight me?

And even by asking that question, it makes them go, hey, no, yeah, I do really want to know what you have to say. And then the second thing I'll say is, okay, well, if you want to understand my view on sexuality, you need to see it in context. And too often we kind of just take it out of context and we don't understand where that all fits in.

So, so if I'm going to explain it to you, let me give you the context. So the context here is that I believe that every one of us, it has incredible value because we were created by God. That he loves us and knows us and that he created us for a purpose. And that because of that, no matter how I live my life, every person deserves to be treated with love and dignity and respect.

So I'm challenging the first narrative already right in that. And I'm also giving a basis for human value and dignity that the secular worldview does not have. And then I say, and because I believe that we are created by God on purpose, that he created us, like we've talked about, to live in a certain way for our good. That his rules are not about control or limiting our freedom or fun.

He's like a good dad that wants the best for us. And that when we live in alignment with that, it's how we thrive and how we are healthy. So my view on sexual ethic fits there. Now you may not agree with it, but you understand that it doesn't mean I hate people and that doesn't mean that I want to take away your fun, but I actually want what's best for you. And that is the basis why I believe that sexuality is intended between one man and one woman in the context of marriage.

That is how it is for our good. Now that's the context from which I can explain it. Now they may still be offended or they may still not like it, but at least they understand the context, right? So that is my encouragement is that's the way you can approach that question if it comes up. Now last thing is Jesus first. Personality and behavior and discipleship second, right? The goal here is that we're introducing people to the person of Jesus and as they get to know Jesus, then the secondary things of their behavior and their sin will be dealt with afterwards. So one of the challenges for the LGBT community and secular culture in general, especially those that grew up in the church, is they have a very legalistic view of Christianity, right? And the LGBTQ community in particular believe that to become a Christian, I have to act and behave a certain way first.

And that's not true, right? They don't understand God's grace and unconditional love and what they don't understand is that submitting my sexuality to God's design is a discipleship issue based on trust that God is good, right? And which means I know him, I trust him and that his ways are better than my ways. And that until I have an encounter with the living God made possible by Jesus' death and resurrection and I surrender my life to him and invite the Holy Spirit to live in me, none of that will make sense.

It doesn't make sense to give up my sexuality unless I know a good God who I trust and who I will submit to. And so that's why they need to encounter Jesus. And so as with anyone, the goal is not to convince them to adopt your moral framework, but to introduce them to the person of Jesus. And Jesus is the ultimate answer to the intimacy that we seek. He's the only one that will satisfy our deepest desire for belonging and acceptance. And when I experienced the profound love of Jesus and understand the beauty of who he is and what he has done for me, all that the world has to offer pales in comparison. I love the song Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus that says, turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full into his wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace. So rather than focusing on their behavior, focus on introducing them to the person of Jesus and surrendering their life to Jesus.

They are convicted and empowered by Holy Spirit to make him Lord of every part of their life, including their sexuality. You're listening to Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Aaron Pierce has been our guest teacher for this program, Let's Talk About the Hard Stuff, which is from his series Not Beyond Reach. He and Chip will join us in just a minute to share their application for this message. As a parent, are you concerned about the spiritual health of your kids? Do you sense they're drifting from the Christian faith or perhaps they've already rejected it? In this new teaching, Aaron's going to give us some hope.

He'll unpack a series of intentional conversations you can use to better understand and reconnect with your kids and eventually lead them to the truth of Jesus. Now, if you've missed any of Aaron's messages, catch up on the Chip Ingram app. Well, Chip's here in studio with me now to look back at what we've learned in this series and talk a little bit more about the resource we've developed alongside it.

Chip. Thanks, Dave. Well, I have to tell you, if you've been challenged by Aaron's messages, you are not alone. What he has shared in this series is a wake-up call for believers to step in and meet the very real need of reaching and discipling today's youth. I just want to encourage you to take the next step, become equipped to reach the young people in your world through this brand new resource. Not Beyond Reach is a book that is packed with practical strategies, real-life examples.

It is a biblical model, and what I love is I've been with Aaron and the team. I can tell you they're reaching youth all across the world, and the fact of the matter is what they have learned is what we need right now, and that's why we're making this book available. Can I encourage you to get it today? Maybe you've intended, maybe you've thought about it, go to LivingOnTheEdge.org, order the book, and get committed to connecting and reaching the people you love the most.

Those inside your home are those young adults that, right now, quite honestly, they're not walking with God, and you don't know what to do. Well, help is on the way. Get the book. Thanks, Chip. To get your hands on this brand new book, Not Beyond Reach, visit LivingOnTheEdge.org or the Chip Ingram app.

Discover the simple process you can follow to share the gospel with those who question or outright reject Jesus. Place your order for this insightful new book, Not Beyond Reach, by going to LivingOnTheEdge.org or the Chip Ingram app. Well, here again is Chip and Aaron to share some helpful application from this message.

Thanks, Dave. Well, Aaron, you have wrapped up your series today by pressing, I think, maybe the biggest hot-button issue and conflict between the church and culture there is, sexuality. As we wrap up this whole series and this tension between, you know, loving and holding to the truth, affirming people, but at the same time not affirming a moral lifestyle that contradicts what's best for people because God has made it really clear, it reminds me of just the need to be bold and winsome, to be loving. And this message really reminded me of a lady that I've read some of in the last few years that's been really powerful.

She's such a sharp intellect. Her name is Dr. Rosaria Butterfield, was a very outspoken lesbian, and she tells the story of meeting for dinner with a pastor and his wife, evangelical pastor and his wife. She knew where they stood, they knew where she stood, and literally, I mean, for, I mean, it sounded like a couple years, like almost every week they would have dinner and they were just friends and it was a safe place and she could ask all her questions and they could have disagreements and she has this great line, so many people talk about my conversion and the change in my life and they always want to bring up my homosexuality. Little did people know that homosexuality wasn't the big issue in my life.

My sin before a holy God, that was the big issue. It was out of the bridge and the friendship and then the love and the Bible and then the truth and their life that brought her where the Spirit of God would reveal to her what she needed was a Savior and that Savior is Jesus. That's the message of this book, isn't it, Aaron?

It's really that we need to build bridges, we need to love, we need to stand strong on the truth, but we have to do it in a winsome, loving way that accepts people where they're at, builds a relationship, opens the door to spiritual conversations, and then after that, you have a gospel conversation and then in due time as the Lord allows and there's trust and they know they're loved and accepted just for who they are, we have cross conversations where we bring them to the point where they realize there's a Savior who loves them and loves us right where we are. And I just want to say, Aaron, thank you so much for sharing with the Living on the Edge family and I'd just like to end this whole series by giving you a chance to kind of answer one question. What do you hope that people will get from listening to this series and from reading the book that we put together? Thank you, Chip. It's been such an honor and a privilege to be able to do this with you and my prayer is that this book and the series that we're doing together would just be a source of hope and encouragement for parents and grandparents and for pastors and youth and young adults that this generation, while often it can be very challenging, this generation is not beyond reach.

Amen. Thanks, Aaron. Hey, before we go, let me remind you of an easy way to listen to our extended teaching podcast. Here, Chip, anytime on Amazon's Alexa Echo and Echo Dot. Just say Alexa, open Living on the Edge and you'll be able to enjoy that day's full length teaching.

Try it today. Well, while Aaron's all finished teaching us, we have one last program for you in the series. Listen next time as Aaron joins us in studio again to share what's next for Steiger and our partnership to reach this lost generation. That's all coming up on the next edition of Living on the Edge. I hope you'll be with us then.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-29 12:44:53 / 2023-10-29 12:56:01 / 11

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