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Not Beyond Reach - Let's Talk about the Hard Stuff, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
June 20, 2024 6:00 am

Not Beyond Reach - Let's Talk about the Hard Stuff, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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June 20, 2024 6:00 am

Is it possible to discuss hot-button issues – like politics, social justice, or Black Lives Matter – with those we love without starting an argument? In this program, our guest teacher Aaron Pierce says: Absolutely! As he picks up in his series, Not Beyond Reach, Aaron describes how to get past divisive topics and clear the way for the Gospel to pierce people’s hearts.

Main Points

Politics

  • Fear and the political savior.
  • Followers of Jesus should be hope-driven not fear-driven. - 1 Peter 2:11; Philippians 3:20
  • Don’t make secondary things primary.
  • We live in an activist culture.

Sexuality

  • Recognize that beneath the mask of intense moral conviction, there’s deep confusion and brokenness.
  • We need to approach with empathy – understanding their reality properly.
  • We need to make a critical distinction between temptation and sinful action.
  • We need to approach with love in action.
  • The key spiritual apologetic assumption we’re challenging is related to purpose.

Jesus first; sexuality, behavior, and discipleship second.

  • Many have a legalistic view of Christianity; that actions and behavior have to change first.
  • They don’t understand that submitting sexuality and behavior is a part of discipleship and trusting that God’s ways are better than my ways.
  • Until they have an encounter with the living God made possible by Jesus’ death and resurrection, and surrender their life to Him, and invite the Holy Spirit to live in them, none of it will make sense.
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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Is it possible to talk about politics, social justice, and Black Lives Matter without launching an argument? Is there a way to remove the barriers that are dividing you and those you love? Your kids, your grandkids, a close friend?

The answer is absolutely yes, and you'll learn how today. Stay with me. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. And as many of you know, Chip's our regular Bible teacher for this daily teaching and discipleship broadcast.

But for the past handful of programs, he's passed the mic over to his friend Aaron Pierce. Aaron leads an international outreach ministry called Stiger, which is on a mission to share the hope of Jesus Christ with today's youth. And for these last two broadcasts, Aaron's going to highlight two very divisive issues that often stand in the way of young people accepting the gospel. He'll explain how we can navigate these hot-button subjects and clear a path to lost people without compromising the truth of God's word. Well, there's a lot to get to, so here's Aaron with his message. Let's talk about the hard stuff.

I want to start by just telling a story. You know, we were in the center of the political universe when George Floyd was killed, and, man, it was crazy times. And I remember taking a small group of people from the Stiger Minneapolis team the Saturday after it happened, and going down to see what was happening with the huge protests, and just standing there with a group of people. And buildings were still on fire from the night before.

And we were in the center of the political universe. And just the intensity of the situation, and seeing thousands and thousands of young people, mainly young people, all around just angry, and searching, and crying out for justice. And it was so interesting because there was just this deep sense of anger, but also a sense of hollow solution.

Like, the solutions just rang so hollow, and it was really clear to me, just looking around and seeing all these people that were fighting for something, that they were looking for a human answer to a sin problem. And it was really an interesting thing. And the dynamic was really strange, actually, because I remember being here, thousands and thousands of people, but there was really no sense of leadership.

It was a weird dynamic. People were looking. It was a crowd that was ready to be led.

And so I was just thinking about that. And we just were there to really just observe and pray. And then we came back a couple days later.

And this time, we went actually right to the spot where George Floyd was killed. And when we got there, there was a big box truck and some speaker set up. And there were some people with a microphone talking, and there was a huge crowd all around them. And so our group came, and we kind of got to the edge of the group with a number of people, including Serena, who was part of our team, an African American woman who was very bold.

And I remember sitting there, looking at it, and remembering the moment in the crowd before, and how the crowd was actually very much ready to be led. And so I said to Serena, because it made a whole lot more sense for her to do it, I said, hey, go up there and ask for the microphone. And so she did. She walked up, and she asked them, and no one was going to say no to her. And so they gave her the microphone. And first she sang a song, which was really cool, drew people in. And then she just began to preach the gospel. And she began to share how the ultimate solution to the brokenness of the world is Jesus. And it was very clear, very bold, and people were glued to what she had to say. And she invited people to pray to receive Jesus, and people raised their hands, prayed out loud, right on the spot there. And then we had hours and hours of conversation right there at that spot.

And then that whole summer, our team went out back to that spot. And I have never experienced a time when people were more open to spiritual conversations and talking about Jesus ever than in that season. And there was that real season of hunger and openness that summer, in that moment.

And it was a really cool and powerful experience. And I think what it speaks to is that while these issues, these topics of politics and sexuality are very divisive, and they're very kind of intimidating topics, they're also incredible opportunities for the gospel. They're moments in which we can connect. And actually, rather than seeing them as things to avoid, or putting them in that box of politics, they're actually opportunities to connect on a deeper spiritual level with people. And so part of it is reframing in our own minds, these things are not scary topics, but these are actually opportunities if we approach it in a different way. And so that's part of what I want to talk about is how do we approach this in a better way, starting with the idea of politics. So politics has ruined more than a few Thanksgiving gatherings.

That's like the thing that you hear today, right? A lot of times there's a tension often between the dad and one child on some political issue, and we have this hyperpolarized world. But I think that the part of it is that there's an opportunity here that we can reframe this, and that's what I want to talk about specifically through the political lens. Now one thing I want to make very clear as we talk about this is that this is in the context of how to develop relationships and engage in spiritual conversations with secular people. So we're not making political statements or saying how Christians should or should not engage in the political process. That's not what this is about.

So remember the context of this. So the first thing we have to understand is the concept of fear and the political savior. And this is an issue that we have as Christians in the church. So much of the Christian response to the decline of Christian influence and the moral decay of society has been characterized by fear. So there are new books published every year foretelling the inevitable downfall and collapse of American society because we've forgotten our Christian roots. The internet is filled with podcasts and blog articles decrying the evil forces at work to undermine Christian values and marginalized Christian voices. And then as the hostility grows, we have these projections and these images of pastors being arrested because they're preaching the Bible and Christians being fired because they won't bow down to the ideology of the day.

And all of these things, believe me, there's some truth to some of that, right? There's truth to that, but the challenge is that it's created a culture of fear and anger. That's the culture that we've created. And so what happens is when we have a culture of fear, we see secular people as the enemy.

And then we adopt a zero-sum game of winning and losing. That becomes the mentality. So in the game of winners and losers, the end goal, the end goal of defending Christian values, of saving our country from the enemy justifies the means of achieving that goal, right? Even if those means are completely anti-Christian in attitude and approach.

It justifies it because the consequences are so severe, right? And so that is the mentality. And so this fear has led many Christians to look to a political savior, to a political power, which is ironic, right? Because that's what the Jews wanted when Jesus came, right?

And so it's the very antithesis of what Jesus did while he was on earth. And so the big paradigm here is that followers of Jesus, of all people, should not be known for fear but for hope, right? We should be known for hope. And we have a hope that is unshakable by circumstances exactly because we do not put our hope in earthly things. That's why we have an unshakable hope.

Because it's not put in a political party or a politician or even in our religious freedom that our country provides. That is not where our hope is. Our hope is in Jesus.

And only Jesus. So if our country collapses and Christians are persecuted like first century Christians in Rome, by the way, I hope that does not happen, right? But if that does happen, we still have hope because we know that we are but sojourners and exiles, as it says in 1 Peter 2.11.

And that our citizenship is in heaven, as it says in Philippians 3.20. We still have hope if everything collapses around us. And that is why our engagement in the political process but also in engaging non-religious people should be hope-driven, not fear-driven. That's a big, big paradigm shift in how we approach this because that shapes the way we engage. That shapes the way we see everything.

It's hope-driven, not fear-driven. And so that impacts the way that we see them. Them is a big issue today in our culture, right? Because we live in this hyper-polarized era unlike any time in history and it's us versus them. Even if them is an exaggerated caricature that bears little resemblance to the kind of the complex nuanced reality of who we are, right?

We like to put these cartoon characters of the other side that we can easily dismiss. And so it's easy to hate people that are on their other side because they are no longer image bearers, they are the enemy, right? And so a while back I became friends with a pastor that I really respected on Facebook and I really appreciated a lot of his teaching. But what I didn't realize until we became friends on Facebook is how politically outspoken he was. And there's not necessarily anything wrong with that, that's not what I'm saying, but it was his approach and tone that really surprised me. And it became abundantly clear from looking at his posts and the way that he talked about them that he didn't have any liberal friends, right? That he didn't have any friends that saw the world different because the way he talked, I mean if he did at one point, they unfriended him a long time ago, right?

So here he was shouting eloquently into his social media echo chamber filled with like-minded followers having zero influence on anyone that didn't already agree with him. All while fostering a culture of fear and hostility towards them. And so here's the thing, what do you think about or how do you talk about them? Specifically those that are politically opposed to you. Or do you envision real people with hopes and fears just like you? Do you see them as people that Jesus loved so much that he died on the cross for them? Or do you envision nefarious people with malicious intentions out to get you?

Like what do you envision when you consider them? And I don't mean to be naive, but approaching the world through a lens of conspiracy theory or malicious intentions doesn't help you foster a love for people. And so we need to remember who the real enemy is.

Right? We are in a war. We are in war, but it's not against people. It's against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms as it says in Ephesians 6-12.

And it's a war for the souls of a generation who have been deceived. And so I prefer to approach people using this thing called Hanlon's razor. And Hanlon's razor says, never attribute malice to that which can be adequately explained by ignorance or deception.

And so maybe, maybe you'll be duped every once in a while, but at least you'll continue to foster a love for people and see the best in people. So let me illustrate this with a well-known verse. You've probably seen this verse before. It says, when I saw the crowds, I was angry and defensive with them because they were malicious and plotting to hurt me. Right? You've heard this verse, right?

No. This is what it really was. When he, Jesus, saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. That should be our approach to people. Right? Rather than these malicious, nefarious people that are out to get us and this fear and hostility and fists up, we should see them as people that are confused and helpless and like Jesus have compassion on them.

That should be our approach. And so the thing to remember is that often people's motivation politically or otherwise is technically good when you consider their underlying assumptions. Right? They're operating on an assumption, on a worldview where to them they believe they are doing right.

Right? And so the challenge is not what they're doing, it's the worldview that they're operating under. So to give you an example, during the whole George Floyd thing, one of the days that I was there, I met a group of people and there was one woman, young woman, and she described herself as a revolutionary Marxist. And I remember talking to her and thinking, wow, this woman personifies the very definition of the enemy.

For many of my conservative Christian friends, like this is the enemy personified. And it was interesting because there was actually a lot to admire about her. Right? Because she was passionate about the brokenness of the world. So she wanted to do something about it. Now her framework that she was operating on was different than mine. Like the main framework for her is that she believed ultimately humans were good and that if we could just get the right law and the right political system and the right education, we could solve our problems. Right?

Now, I challenged her on that because I said, you know, it doesn't matter. What happens is the generally when you change a political system, evil and oppression still exist. And of course, we're talking about sin and the heart. But the point is, I can actually see this person in a loving, compassionate way rather than like the definition of the enemy that's trying to get me.

Right? So that's the first thing. It's our approach to other people. What is our approach or how do we feel and look about them? The second thing is that we can't make secondary things primary.

Don't make secondary things primary. And it sounds obvious, but our goal is to win people to Jesus, not our political perspective. And they're not the same thing. And often it seems that Christians are more passionate about their political affiliation than Jesus. Like the things that they're most getting passionate and worked up about on social media is their political stuff. Right? And there's some of those issues to me that are so secondary and so like good Christians can have different views on it. But we're so passionate about it. Right?

We often get stuck in these downstream battles and secondary issues rather than introducing people to Jesus. Right? And in terms of societal influence, the law is actually very limited, almost useless in shaping worldview or changing someone's heart. Right? And so we need to not confuse political power with societal influence. Right? And frankly, we're kind of there right now.

We've actually some of the right leaning morality, we've kind of won in some ways politically, but I don't think we've had a lot of societal influence in other ways. Right? So we have to make sure, again, we separate that.

And let me be clear again. This is not about how Christians should engage the political process. This is about how do we reach secular people. Right? So we need to remember that so that as we engage with people who have different political perspectives, we need to make sure we're doing our best to get out of the political box like we talked and avoid debating secondary or symptomatic issues.

And instead, our goal is to point them to Jesus. Right? Now, again, I would say one more time, we're not advocating political apathy or abstaining from the political process. But as Christians, we should seek to engage and influence every sphere of society, but not from a place of fear and not as our ultimate source of hope. Right? If politics is not our ultimate source of hope, then we're not going to adopt that win-at-all-cost mentality because that's not our ultimate hope.

So that is my key point. This is Chip Ingram, and you're listening to Living on the Edge. Before we get back to our guest teacher, Aaron Pierce, let me ask you, are you nervous to talk to friends and family members about Jesus? Do you wish you could share the gospel in a natural, easy, stress-free way? Keep listening after this message, and I'll tell you about a resource we've developed that will help you do just that.

Stick around to learn more. With that, here again is Aaron. So, next thing about politics. We live in an activist culture, and I think this is awesome because this activism really operates on a framework that connects to the gospel in a powerful way. We talked a lot before about filtered reality and how we kind of project ourselves, and one of the projections is that we're activists, that we're making a difference. Often it's pretty superficial and amounts to nothing more than a social media post and wearing a bracelet, but nonetheless, there is a desire to fight for something, to be part of something bigger than myself, to care for the oppressed and the marginalized, to meet the needs of the voiceless, to stand for what is right. All of these things are good biblical things.

In fact, the reason this is in them is because they were created for good works in advance, whether they know Jesus or not, and God has put that in them. A more fair way to live out a secular humanistic worldview is just to live for yourself. It's just to get what you can. It's about pursuing pleasure and happiness, but an activist culture is about laying your needs down for the sake of others. So it's a really interesting thing, and so even though a lot of the things that people get into, like environmentalism, racism, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ, sexuality, feminism, mental health, suicide prevention, and economic justice, these are the hot topics. These are the things the culture cares about. Even though a lot of these things either are outright anti-biblical or get twisted, it says something about people. What it says, most importantly, is that they believe the world is not as it ought to be.

Remember when we talked about spiritual conversations, finding a truth that they believe and affirming that? Those that are politically active, that is a key truth that we can affirm in them. And then the question, how do we solve it? How do we solve these problems that we're dealing with? Is it really a political thing, or is it something bigger and deeper than that? And so my challenge to you is, these things have often evoked a lot of angry, political, them reactions.

And my challenge to you is see them as opportunities to connect and to affirm, and then have a conversation seeking the truth together. How do we take care of this planet? How do we see racial equality?

Where does love come from? How do we treat people who are different with dignity and love and respect? How should women be treated? Can we acknowledge the fact throughout history that there's been a ton of marginalization, and what do we do about that?

And of course, Jesus was so radical in the way he treated women, right? And so see these as opportunities, not as political conversations. All right? So, I'll give you an example of this.

This was last year. I ended up meeting a couple of these guys. They're, you know, kind of tough-looking tattooed people, and I saw them and I thought, oh, they kind of look interesting. So I went up to them and I said, like, hey, what's, you know, how are you doing? And then I said, what do your tattoos mean?

Because tattoos are personal and they're easy things to connect on. And so I said, yeah, what are your tattoos mean? And he looked at me, the guy in the back there, and he said, well, which one?

And I said, that one. And I pointed to one with a circle with three downward-facing arrows. And I found out later that that actually was a symbol representing Antifa, which is a left-wing political movement with some extreme and sometimes violent elements to it. But he said, well, it means anti-fascist, anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian. And I was like, ooh, okay. And so I asked him, like, what does that mean to you?

Why do you believe that? And he talked about, like, kind of the corruption of the system and how you've got all these billionaires in their yachts while the poor are struggling and how that's unjust and all this kind of corruption and political stuff. And then he began talking passionately about implementing his kind of socialistic, almost communist system in order to bring about equality. And at that point, a well-meaning Christian man that was there doing outreach with us began to have an argument with him about capitalism versus socialism. And hopefully we realize by now, like, that wasn't the moment for that.

Frankly, he completely missed the point of that moment and that this was not the time to argue about capitalism and socialism, blah, blah, blah. This was a moment where we could connect. And so I kindly but firmly took over the conversation and I followed basically a process, a process of, first of all, affirming in him some good things that I saw. So I said, man, I respect you because you see the brokenness of this world. You see suffering and you're not willing to just stand aside. You want to do something about it. I respect that because I agree with you that the world is broken as well. And I'm an activist too. I'm a Jesus activist.

So I'm connecting on his playing field, right? But then I reframe it. And I said, but the problem is that no matter what economic or political system we seem to put in place, we can't get rid of the corruption. We can't get rid of the evil and the suffering. And that's because I believe the core problem is a corruption of the heart.

I was using his language and that there is no political system that can solve that. And then I challenged him and I told him that as a follower of Jesus, I believe that we can't fix ourselves. And that the only solution was a spiritual renewal and restoration found through the death and resurrection of Jesus. And then we end up having this really deep, long conversation. And eventually he ended up opening up and he said, well, you know, yesterday I was at a funeral and the pastor came up to talk to me and he was talking to me about this stuff too. And I said, well, man, I think God is pursuing you. And he said, yeah, I think you're right. And it was a pretty amazing conversation with an antifa guy that wants, you know, that for most people is like the enemy that we should stand against. Right. So how are we going to engage the political process in a different way?

That's our challenge. This is Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram, and you've been listening to the first part of our guest teacher, Aaron Pierce's message. Let's talk about the hard stuff from his series Not Beyond Reach. He and Chip will join us here in studio with some additional thoughts about today's program in just a minute. Young people today are often unfairly stereotyped as rebellious, selfish and overly harsh. But in these programs, Aaron's peeling back those generalities to reveal the hopeless, lost and unloved feelings plaguing this generation. Learn why today's youth are primed to hear the saving message of the gospel and how, with a simple step-by-step process, you can share it with them.

If you're a parent, grandparent, pastor or fellow young person, don't miss a second of the series. Well, Chip's here in studio with me now, and Chip, you know, many of our listeners may not know this, but we take time every Monday to pray together as a staff. And each week we get dozens of emails or calls asking us to pray for a fractured family or a broken relationship. Chip, take a minute, if you would, and talk to those who are experiencing that kind of hurt right now.

Well, Dave, thank you. As I read through all those prayer requests, what I see over and over and over is there was an argument, there was hostility, there's disagreement about politics or Black Lives Matter, what it means, what it doesn't mean or about masks or about church or about truth. There are literally hundreds of thousands of people right now listening to my voice, living with a breakdown in their family. With a teen or young adult where you don't talk, you don't connect, you care about them deeply, you have deep convictions about God, the truth, the gospel, and you have a barrier instead of a bridge. And what I would say is you have to address this. First, humble yourself. Ask God, is there anything you need to address?

And then let me tell you, you don't have to give up the truth, but you have to have a different method of connecting. And this book called Not Beyond Reach by Aaron Pierce will give you a game plan and a blueprint to break down the walls, understand where your teen or young adults coming from, and show you specifically how to rebuild that relationship that will lead to the gospel. Let me encourage you, get the book, but more importantly, put it into practice. To order this book by Aaron Pierce, Not Beyond Reach, go to LivingOnTheEdge.org or the Chip Ingram app. Learn what you can do to skillfully and intentionally share the truth of the gospel in this post-Christian culture.

Again, to get your copy of Not Beyond Reach, visit LivingOnTheEdge.org or the Chip Ingram app. With that, here again is Chip and Aaron with some meaningful application for us to think about. Aaron, I got to tell you, I love today's message, and I really love that moment where you talked about kind of interrupting your friend who got in the argument about capitalism and socialism. And once you then kind of told your friend, you know, that may be a valid issue some other place, but not right now, your approach didn't end in an argument, but it ended in an open heart. What do you say to a parent or a grandparent or maybe even a pastor who deeply cares about friends or family? But right now, there's division, there's strife, there's lack of connection around socialism, capitalism, politics, masks, vaccines, you know, something that really is a secondary issue.

What do you say to that person about how to restore that relationship? Yeah, thanks, Chip. This is so important. And my plea and my encouragement for parents and grandparents who love their kids, who desire nothing more than for their kids who've walked away to come back, to be, to encounter Jesus, my challenge is don't let yourself get entangled in these political downstream things that become barriers. Don't make secondary things, which are not unimportant, but they're not the ultimate.

Don't make secondary things primary. Our goal is not to convince people to adopt our political perspective. Our goal is to introduce them to the person of Jesus. And when they meet Jesus, when they see the beauty of who He is and what He has done for them, when they realize that He is good, that He loves them, that He knows them better than they know themselves, it's in that realization, that revelation that they're willing to submit themselves to Him, that they're willing to make Him Lord of their life because they realize that He is good, that He sees the whole picture and that He wants good things for us, that He's like a good Father who doesn't create a moral code to control us or to limit our freedom.

He creates these moral guidelines, this law for our good, that He wants us to thrive, that He wants us, He wants good things for His children. And it's not till I realize who Jesus is and the beauty of who He is that I'm willing to submit myself. And in doing that, after I encounter Jesus, then all these secondary things, they take care of themselves.

They make sense after I submit myself to Jesus because I know that He is good. So my challenge to parents is don't let these political things get in the way of the relationship with your kids so that then stand in the way of your ability to share Jesus with them because it's Jesus that will make a difference. That's so true, Aaron. Great application for us to think about.

Well, before we go, I want to quickly remind you about our mid-year match. If you're benefiting from the ministry of Living on the Edge but aren't yet on the team, there's never been a better time because between now and July 9th, every gift we receive will be matched dollar for dollar. If you'd like to partner with us, go to livingontheedge.org or call us at 888-333-6003. That's 888-333-6003 or visit livingontheedge.org. App listeners, tap donate. On behalf of CHIP and everyone here, thank you in advance for your generosity. Well, join us next time as our guest teacher, Aaron Pierce, wraps up his series, Not Beyond Reach. Until then, I'm Dave Druey, thanking you for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-20 12:11:06 / 2024-06-20 12:22:49 / 12

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