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Not Beyond Reach - Softening Hearts with Spiritual Conversations, Part 2

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
June 17, 2024 6:00 am

Not Beyond Reach - Softening Hearts with Spiritual Conversations, Part 2

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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June 17, 2024 6:00 am

Has social media and the 24/7 news cycle convinced you that winning an argument is the most important thing? Even when we talk to our kids, grandkids, or friends about Jesus? In this program, our guest teacher Aaron Pierce has some challenging words for us to think about as he continues his series, Not Beyond Reach. Learn how to have healthy, spiritual conversations with those we care for that will attract them to the Gospel.

Main Points

Gospel conversation vs. spiritual conversation

  • Gospel conversation – is the biblical narrative of creation, fall, and redemption that is centered around the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
  • Spiritual conversation – is presuppositional, which means that it addresses the underlying assumptions that the gospel is built on.

How do you start a spiritual conversation?

  1. Ask the Holy Spirit for supernatural discernment. - 2 Corinthians 4:4
  2. Be WISE about your communication and avoid certain pitfalls.
  3. Everything has spiritual implications.

Four things to look for during spiritual conversations

  1. Idols – things they are putting their hope and identity in.
  2. Felt Needs – dealing with anxiety, depression, broken relationships, etc.
  3. Lies – things that they are believing that stand in the way of them hearing biblical truth.
  4. Truth – things they are already believing or living out that is in alignment with biblical truth.

How do you appropriately engage in a spiritual conversation?

  1. You are not convincing people that you’re right. You are encouraging them to pursue the Truth.
  2. Create an open environment where it’s okay to doubt, ask hard questions, say something naïve, and process in real time.

Have I failed if I don’t share the gospel?

  • I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. - 1 Corinthians 3:6
  • You are not the hero; Jesus is!
  • Respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
  • The goal is to move people closer to Jesus at every interaction.
Broadcast Resource About Chip Ingram

Chip Ingram’s passion is helping Christians really live like Christians. As a pastor, author, and teacher for more than three decades, Chip has helped believers around the world move from spiritual spectators to healthy, authentic disciples of Jesus by living out God’s truth in their lives and relationships in transformational ways.

About Living on the Edge

Living on the Edge exists to help Christians live like Christians. Established in 1995 as the radio ministry of pastor and author Chip Ingram, God has since grown it into a global discipleship ministry. Living on the Edge provides Biblical teaching and discipleship resources that challenge and equip spiritually hungry Christians all over the world to become mature disciples of Jesus.

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Has social media, talk shows, and the 24-7 news cycle convinced you that winning an argument is the most important thing, even when it comes to talking to your children or grandchildren or a close friend about Jesus? Well, today we're going to learn how to have spiritual conversations that actually attract instead of repel the people that we love the most.

Stay with me. Thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Living on the Edge is an international teaching and discipleship ministry motivating Christians to live like Christians. And boy, Chip posed some pretty challenging questions for us to think about because so many Christians have fallen into the trap of talking at nonbelievers about Jesus instead of talking with them. So in just a minute, our guest teacher, Aaron Pierce, will help us change our approach as he continues his series, Not Beyond Reach. Last time, Aaron opened our eyes to the concept of spiritual conversations that rely on the Holy Spirit's leading and careful words. Today, he'll further explain what those dialogues look like and why we must lovingly engage with people.

So if you're ready, here's Aaron with the remainder of his talk. The next key principle is to recognize that pretty much everything has spiritual implications. Like everything that we do and that we talk about has spiritual implications and that as skilled missionaries to our culture, we need to be in tune and skilled at drawing those conversations out in a natural way. And that these are often very important things about us. And our goal is to move from the secular and the superficial to the spiritual, how to move our friendships and our conversations from the superficial to the spiritual.

And again, recognizing that I'm just going to list a number of things here. These are just a handful of very general topics that have spiritual implications and that are part of daily life. So when people discuss morality or purpose, you know, the purpose of their, what do they do, their job, right? Or their identity, which is a big one today, or love and family, you know, work, beauty, hope, dreams, sickness, loss. All of these things, which are universal in terms of connecting with people, have spiritual implications. And a lot of times when you're engaging in spiritual conversations, it's about asking questions that tease out the spiritual implications, right?

If you don't have to tell them, you can just ask the question, like, are there universal human rights or where does human value come from? Why is it that humans are valuable? Why do we believe that? Or in the issue of purpose, what makes life worth living?

Like, why do you, what do you get up for? And you ask this question because everyone believes this, but isn't life more than just survival? Isn't it more than just pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain, getting old and dying?

Isn't there something more than that? We're talking about things that bring satisfaction. You can ask people, like, why is it that satisfaction in material things is so fleeting? Or why is happiness so elusive? Why is it like something we can't hold onto for very long?

What is that? You know, we're talking about, again, felt needs. Why is suffering and pain such a universal thing? None of us argue with the existence of pain and suffering, but why?

What is that? How do we fix ourselves? So a lot of these things are things that we interact with on a daily level with people as we build those friendships. Remember, the context here is we are developing authentic friendships with people. And that gives us the ability to ask harder questions or get deeper about these things. And that doesn't necessarily mean I'm going straight to Jesus and the message of the cross.

That is our goal. But I'm now challenging the underlying assumption. I'm getting people to think about why they believe what they believe, or to even begin to see the incoherence and the inconsistency of what they believe without putting them on the spot.

Because when I ask a question about human value, that's much different than saying, why are you pro-choice? You know what I mean? I just ask essentially the same question, but very different context, and very different, much more receptive to actually progress and productivity in a conversation. So again, the goal here is that we need to become good missionaries by knowing how to tease out, to ask good questions that bring out spiritual conversations in everyday life. And it's really cool because when you do this, man, you can have an amazing conversation.

One really cool example recently, we have a team in Houston, was out doing a prayer walk in kind of a secular part of the city. And they end up connecting. And it was really cool because they end up, through a series of conversations, end up being led to, essentially it was like this secret rave club. And it was this really intense club. They had to go through all these back doors to get there.

And they're packed with people, not a Christian place. And they were there. And this guy, Roger, this middle-aged suburban dad guy, was there.

And he's feeling very out of place. And he's like, what am I doing here? And so they decided to split up in groups and go talk to people. And they were talking, and then all of a sudden this one girl, who's kind of like this very charismatic, outgoing girl, walks up to their group and is like, hey, what are you guys doing here?

You guys are kind of interesting. And she starts to talk to them. And then she said, you know, what are you really, I want to know you guys.

What are you good at? Which is a very interesting question for her to ask, right? And they're all asking these questions. And then Roger is thinking, man, what am I going to say to this girl? And it gets to her, and he's like, to him, and he says, well, you know, I guess I'm good at being a dad.

I love being with my kids, my boys. And the girl just was floored. Boom. Just stopped her right in her tracks, tears in her eyes. After a moment of pause, all of a sudden she just gives Roger a huge hug.

And she's like, we don't have a lot of those around here. And then Allison, one of the girls there, end up taking her aside and just having a deep, powerful conversation, praying with her. But it was a father's love, right? It's a spiritual, it has spiritual implications.

So many people long for that kind of love. And so again, the reality is that spiritual things are all around us. And how can we be in tune? And he didn't say anything about Jesus and the cross, but he spoke a truth that connected in her and opened her to the ultimate truth. And so again, that's the idea of the spiritual implications. Now what you're doing when you're having these conversations is that you're looking for four things. You're discerning and you're identifying four things.

You're looking for idols. And idols is a weird connotation in the biblical sense, but it's just things that they are putting their hope in. Things that they are putting their identity in. Things that if they put their hope in an identity in, they're going to be crushed by that because it will let them down. It can be lots of things.

It can be career and work. It can be their bodies if they're into health. It can be lots of things that you are putting your hope and your identity in.

What are the idols? And you're not calling that out. You're just saying, okay, I see where they're putting their hope. Because then in a loving way, eventually you're going to be able to challenge that. Or what are the felt needs that they have? People will tell you pretty honestly when they're dealing with anxiety or depression or broken relationships.

A lot of people, a lot of us, all of us struggle with broken relationships. So identifying the felt needs that they are experiencing and then looking for lies that they believe. And by that I mean like what are things that they are believing that is out of alignment with biblical truth, that is standing in the way from them hearing the gospel message? What are lies that they're believing? Oftentimes it's going to be lies about sexuality, what they believe about what is the purpose of sex and how they're living that out. Or it's lies that they believe about truth and morality or the church or whatever.

What are the lies that they are believing? Begin to identify those things. And then fourth, begin to identify truth that they believe or are living out without realizing that they're already living in alignment with biblical truth. And the reason you want to do that is because you can begin to affirm.

You can identify things that they believe or ways that they are living in their character and in their behavior that is already in alignment with biblical truth. That gives you an opportunity to affirm and connect with them. So if they're passionate about caring for the oppressed and those that are marginalized, you can say, I really respect and appreciate that because you're living in alignment with biblical truth without even knowing it.

I don't say it like that, but my point is I can connect. Or if they're a very gracious and kind and generous person, I can call that out. I can affirm that truth in them and I can begin to build that platform. But then that also gives me the platform to meet their felt needs, to say that your pain actually matters, that the pain you're going through matters and that there is hope for healing, that there is hope for relational restoration if that's the problem, that you can bring hope and healing and you can pray for people.

It's amazing how open people are to being prayed for, for their felt needs. And then as you build that affirmation of truth, you've met their felt needs, you can also begin to challenge the lies and the idols that they have in their life. And you can say that these things are actually causing you harm, that these things are actually not in the way God designed it and God's not here to control you. He's here for your good, that His ways are for your good. And so you're looking for ways to connect both in the terms of affirmation and challenge your conversation to at least one truth of the gospel. So that truth can be about human value and dignity because we were created in the image of God.

I can say like, I see that you value human life. Well, I want to affirm that and I'm with you and here's why. Or we can challenge the fact that in secular culture, for example, one of the lies of secular culture is that we can fix ourselves. That with enough education and the right political system and laws, we can fix ourselves. And as Christians, we can challenge that. We can say, no, I don't see that truth.

That's not true because it doesn't seem to matter what system, what education we do. We can't get rid of evil and pain and corruption. Right now, we're challenging something that they believe. But it's all based on that relational trust that we've built up as we seek to identify idols, felonies, lies and truth in our spiritual conversations. Now, here's a couple of things that I want to talk about about the way, the how we do this. This is the what, but how do we do this in a good way?

So the first is that we want to approach this. We are not convincing people that you are right. You are encouraging them to pursue the truth.

Those are two very different things. And it's actually quite liberating to just encourage people to pursue the truth because I don't have to know everything. And I can just be honest and transparent. It also evens the playing field.

It's not me coming at them from a place of superiority and I know and you don't. Instead, it's like we're in this together and let's pursue truth. And here's the beauty, Jesus is the truth. And so we need to trust that an honest pursuit of truth always leads to Jesus. And that that's why you're encouraging them not to, because when it's I'm right and you're wrong, then it creates defensiveness.

It creates an adversarial approach. But when it's like, hey, let's pursue the truth together and you exhibit some humility along the way, it opens them up to pursue the truth along with you. And then there's going to be questions and things that come up that you don't know the answer to, and that's okay. When you've approached it from this way, you can be like, well, let's figure that out. Let's look into that. Let's try to understand that. And now you're pursuing the truth together. And that's where you want to get.

And then the second thing is that you want to create an open environment. So here's the thing, we live in the time of cancel culture, right? Now as Christians, we think we're like the only victims of that. And so we're like, oh, everyone's out to get us.

Maybe, maybe not. But the point is everyone deals with this cancel culture environment. And so everyone's afraid to say something wrong that's going to get them canceled. And so what that creates is it creates a sense where we're not willing to say things or process things in an open and honest way because we're afraid. And so what you want to do is you want to counter that cancel culture by creating an environment where it's okay to doubt, where it's okay to ask hard questions, where it's to say something, even to say something stupid or offensive, like I'm not here to catch you, I'm not going to tweet this later.

This is like in a great open environment and to process in real time. And here's the cool thing. When you do this and you show that this is real, this is like a great space for people because they feel this is not something the world has. Everyone is like, I'm out to get you.

If you say the wrong thing, I'm going to slam you. And it's such a freeing thing to be around people who may or may not agree and to respect and love each other and allow for that environment. And again, I'm not saying this because I don't believe there's an ultimate truth.

There is. But you want to create an environment where the truth can be pursued. So then when you've done all that, then you just do the basic work of apologetics. You listen and ask a ton of questions. Be patient, respectful, and gracious, like it says in 1 Peter. And then the whole thing that we're doing, as we talked about, is we're trying to understand what are their assumptions.

Remember, what are their idols? What are their felt needs, the lies and the truth that they believe? What are the inconsistencies, and how can I begin to challenge them? What are the questions or truth behind the objection?

Again, this is something that is both discerned by our natural listening but also spiritually discerned. Like, what is the real issue that you're dealing with? A lot of times people's hostility is based on pain that they've experienced. And so that's the real issue, not the intellectual objection that they have.

And so how can you identify the real issue? And then, of course, our whole heart is win the heart, not the argument. And as someone that likes to debate, my parents had to teach me this one growing up because I like to win even if I lost a friend in the process. And so the whole idea is you're trying to win people's hearts, not their arguments. So this is the context of how to engage in a spiritual conversation.

Chip here, and you're listening to Living on the Edge. I'll get right back to our guest teacher, Aaron Pierce, in just a minute. But first, here's a question. Has someone special in your life walked away from God or maybe is really intensely opposed to the Bible? Stick around after this message and let me tell you about a tool that we've developed to help you skillfully and intentionally share the gospel in this post-Christian society. Don't miss it, okay?

Let's get back to the series, Not Beyond Reach. I want to end this part by just asking the question, have I failed if I don't share the gospel? And my answer to that would be, depends. Because success is about obedience, not about you feeling good because you share the gospel. It's about what did God ask you to do? So if he asks you to share the gospel and you didn't, then yeah, that's a failure. And by the way, there's grace and you can get back up and do it again, right?

But if he asked you and you didn't, then yes. But there are also times when we need to be discerning of the Spirit where it isn't the right time. And sometimes we become such Jesus robots that we vomit our scripts without being discerning, right? So that the point here is, in 1 Corinthians 3, 6, that it says, I planted the seed, Apollo swatted it, but God has seen to make it grow. The idea here is we all have a role to play, right?

And the big thing is that we are not the hero Jesus is. Like that is an important point and it's also very liberating, right? Because it's not about me. It's about responding to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and being obedient. And if you're really in tune, if you're growing in intimacy with Jesus and you're in tune to the Spirit, then in particular moments you're going to, maybe he's going to call you to a prophetic word of challenging someone and speaking truth and it's going to be confrontational. Sometimes that's the way it is. Other times, all you're there to do is be a friend.

And it's because it's not a formula. It's about obedience to an act of a living God that's working inside of you. And so that's what we want to, how we want to do it. And the goal here is that we are moving people closer to Jesus every time we interact.

That's the goal. That every time they interact, I am moving them closer to Jesus. I am breaking down maybe some relational challenges. I'm challenging a truth or I'm affirming something in them. But I'm drawing them closer and closer to Jesus by the power of the Spirit every time I interact with them.

All right. So this, this is our goal as, as how to engage in these, these spiritual conversations. And I'm going to show you a video because I just want to illustrate to you how, how much people are very much open to this and how much they desire it. We've, we've done a series of focus groups in which we basically use these principles and people are so hungry for this kind of spiritual conversation.

So we'll end it with this video and then we'll be done with this section. I think a thing would be that religion, I see religion as more as like a way that people use to teach values and teach like what is right. That's why you'll see like, you know, Christians here are going to be a lot different than Christians in the South, Christians across the world. Same with any religion.

You know, there's no, I'd be hard pressed to find a religion that's the exact same everywhere because people will take their values and apply it to the religion and use the religion to justify their values. So it really can't just say like one religion would be right when people are taking it and using it to amplify what they already believe. And it also is about implications because as you said, when what we believe about the world and what's true and who we are has massive implications for how we act, a distorted view of Christianity has led to some horrible things. But I would also argue that a view of the world that says there are no consequences, I'm just a highly evolved animal and the best thing for me to do is survive and dominate the week, that could equally justify and has justified some horrible things, which is why this discussion isn't just Halloween candy and costumes, which is why there are serious implications even to things that we can't fully grasp or fully prove.

What do you guys think? I was just going to add like, right, you could go down that route of doing something bad or believing an ideology that has like negative implications on the world, right? But then if we factor in the whole idea of love, right?

Like if you're going out killing people because like you think that that's your truth and that's like good for you, right? If you factor in love to that equation, that's not a loving thing to do to kill people, right? So I suppose like love could be a like foundation for which we can strive for the truth. The definition of God's love for us in the Christian idea is that he sent Jesus to basically sacrifice himself for you.

That's the ultimate expression of love. And so I think that is a kind of one of the, I think the challenge is, is so much garbage gets in the way of something that it distorts our view of it. But if you consider the Christian view is actually not that it makes like bad people good. The Christian view is it actually makes dead people that are spiritually dead alive. That's actually the Christian message.

And the reason that I find hope after this life is not in my deeds, but actually in my connection in relationship with my creator. What was really surprising is people did engage. You know, even after it ended, people didn't want to leave.

People wanted to stay. People wanted to talk. Yeah, I really do appreciate the opportunity to get to hear the opinions of other people and the viewpoints of other people. So, yeah, it was a good conversation. I feel like I'm kind of left with my head in circles a little bit. I definitely think about the truth, but I don't always necessarily have an answer because like we kind of talk about there maybe isn't necessarily one.

So I guess I'm kind of left with my brain going, I guess a little bit. It's almost as if these people weren't strangers anymore, that they were actually sitting there together and actually enjoying this kind of conversation. And it was just an incredible example of how hungry the youth culture is today to have deep and meaningful spiritual conversations. I haven't had like a lot of chances to have conversations like that. I was really happy to be here.

It's a very welcoming environment. Yeah, it's eye-opening. Getting to hear like a whole bunch of like different perspectives and like, you know, I wasn't like frowned upon to like disagree with anybody. I came into it pretty skeptical, but after hearing everybody's ideas, what they were talking about, finding your purpose, all that, it's really, I definitely do believe it more.

There's got to be something else. This is going to have me leaving with a lot of thinking going on, and I love to think and I love to hear what other people think about the world and the concept of spirituality. So 10 out of 10, we'll do this again.

Pretty cool, right? So here's the thing, we can do this, you can do this. Like this isn't just for like apologists, you know, people that are intellectual. All of us can have these conversations. So again, spiritual conversations and non-religious, literally a tool that's helped you to have these conversations with people in your life. Seeing that you're building that bridge from a friendship to the gospel through spiritual conversations.

You're listening to Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Aaron Pierce has been our guest teacher for this program, Softening Hearts with Spiritual Conversations, which is from his series, Not Beyond Reach. Chip will join us in just a minute to share a few of his thoughts from this message. If you're 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 series, Aaron's going to give us some hope. He'll describe a set of intentional conversations you can use to better understand and reconnect with your kids, and ultimately lead them to the truth of Jesus.

If you've missed any of Aaron's messages, catch up any time through the Chip Ingram app. Well, I'm joined in studio now by Chip, and Chip, you know, we've talked a lot about how lost and confused this next generation is. But the research tells us there's a big group of 20 and 30-year-olds who are on fire for God and eager to make a difference. So what advice do you have for them as they do life alongside other young people? Well, what I'd say is, number one, I love hearing from them. A handful of them text me or do Instagram, and that's really cool.

But what I would say is this resource by Aaron Pearce, Not Beyond Reach, is a playbook for them. They're smart, they understand, they get the whole social media world, but what do you do? You know, if you jump in with the Bible, if you just tell them, hey, this is what we learned when we were growing up, or hey, what happened? We went to the same Christian school together.

Those probably aren't places to go. There is a way to build bridges, to have spiritual conversations, to share the gospel, and to reconnect with fellow young people, because those deep needs of belonging and esteem, despite all the noises out there, and what I would say to them is, you're the Daniels, you're the Joseph and Marys. You know, God always takes young people to reach other young people and change the world. Get the book, Not Beyond Reach, and then put it into practice and let us know how it goes. Thanks, Chip. To get your hands on this book from Aaron Pearce, 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 resource, Not Beyond Reach, by going to LivingOnTheEdge.org or the Chip Ingram app. Well, Chip, before we wrap up, let's get to your application for today.

Thanks, Dave. I just want to pause and have just a couple of what I think are important comments about something that Aaron said in his message, What if I don't share the gospel? You know, a lot of people approaching the idea of witnessing is like, you know, if you don't share the gospel, if you don't close the deal, if you don't get them to sign on the dotted line, you kind of blew it. And for some of us, we've grown up that way.

We don't see it as an arc and a process. And I just have to say that this idea of building relationships has helped me a bunch. I was playing golf just last week, and I bumped into this couple twice now, and we had a good relationship, and I've asked lots of questions.

Where are they coming from? And she happens to come from Chile, and he's fluent in Spanish, and I'm always trying to learn that. And, you know, he's a tech guy, and just great relationship with him. And then the second time we played, Oh, it's good to see you. We're going to play again. And she hit a shot. She goes, Yes, I'm praying to the universe that I'll hit the ball better today. And just after, you know, we've had all these conversations, I smiled at her and said, I got to tell you, I actually know the God that created all the universe.

I don't have to pray to the whole universe. And she leaned forward, and she goes, Oh, you must believe like my mother. And she's someone who grew up in a very strict religion, felt a lot of guilt, walked away from it. But that conversation began just a warm relational talk about what God is really like and how we might know. And then to my surprise, I walked into the pro shop, and I had a book, and as I walked in, this lady's husband walked in and goes, Oh, did you write that? And I said, Yes. And it's the book called The Real God.

It's who God really is and the attributes of God. And he goes, Wow, I'd love to read that. I took a little golf pencil, signed a note in it and gave it to him. He looked at me, grabbed it and said, I'm going to read this and I'm going to tell you what I think.

I said, I'll put my email in it. Here's my point. It's building these kind of relationships that will open the door for the gospel.

Here's my question. Who are you building relationships with that's different than you, where God will open the door in due time if you love them right where they're at? That's a great challenge, Chip. And once you do step out and build that bridge to someone, we'd love to hear what happened next. Email us at chip at livingontheedge.org. Again, that's chip at livingontheedge.org. We look forward to hearing how God will use you to reach and rescue the lost in your life. Until next time, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-17 04:10:53 / 2024-06-17 04:22:58 / 12

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