Weaving the message of Jesus into our words and work:
VII. Problems, problems, problems...
A. Be careful in groups!
· You can often get "hit from the side"
· It is difficult to adapt your conversation to more than one at a time
· You will always get 'questions' in a group! And unanswered questions will affect others who did not ever CONSIDER those questions before that incident!
· People are not as open or honest with you, compared to 1-on-1
B. When the Tuff questions come up...
1. Questions come up (during these discussions) for several different reasons--you need to sense which one:
a. Avoidance - they are trying to avoid the issue of where their relationship with God is
· "I cannot believe in a God who would..."
· "Before I would even consider becoming a Christian, I would have to see proof that..."
b. Enslavement - they are enslaved/obsessed with this problem, and it stops them from moving forward with God
think about God a lot, but I cannot see why He would let X happen..."
think God is up there somewhere, but the church is so full of hypocrites and
· "But doesn't the bible somewhere say 'YYY'?"
c. Need for respectability - they have heard this argument from someone respectable, and feels that it needs to be addressed so that THEY can feel respectable in the process.
I read somewhere that the Bible was full of myths...
don't scientists pretty much believe that God doesn't exist?
· "One of my college professors taught us that the apostles turned the man Jesus into the God-man Christ."
d. Need for personal integrity - they are positive toward the faith, but feel that they cannot accept it 'with integrity' without some comfort level about this question/issue.
this all makes a lot of good, good sense, Chris, but I must admit that I am
still a little uncomfortable with some of the ethical behavior in the
· "Donna, your story about your experience in college I find very appealing...I think I agree with your thinking...but I've always been hung up over how ignorant men wrote the bible"
e. Testing YOU - they ask the question to see how YOU will handle it, testing YOUR character and integrity in your beliefs
what about other religions? Don't they lead to God too?"
how can you believe in a God that lets so much evil happen?
· "But why do you think the New Testament stories are true?"
f. Lack of perspective/knowledge - they THINK this is a big issue, but it might not be at all (e.g., John 4 and the woman at the well questions)
know, Carl, this is making a lot of sense to me, in my situation...I just don't
think, though, that I could ever give up my chewing tobacco..."
· "But I don't think this is practical for me...Debbie was raised Methodist, and I was raised Catholic--I don't think we could agree on a church we could go to."
2. The main aspects of your response:
a. Love -- take them seriously
b. Gentleness -- kindness, warmth, and at their pace
c. Honesty -- never, never bluff and never, never minimize the seriousness of some of the questions
d. Perspective -- try to keep the question in perspective (if it is important, treat it so; if not, try to postpone discussing it) and to stay on track with the main issue (i.e., Jesus)
3. The main categories of questions:
a. The character of God
1. Suffering and evil in the world
2. Illegal human sacrifice of Christ on the Cross
3. The OT God as being bloodthirsty, warlike, etc.
4. The glory-hungry God ('worship me or burn')
5. The unfair God ('Jesus-way, or No way'...no matter when/where you live)
b. The reliability of the Bible
1. Authorship by humans (and uneducated, gullible ones at that)
2. Authorship for bad motives
3. Transmission/translation errors
4. Pagan myths got merged in
5. Evolution/Science disproves it
c. The character of the church
1. Crusades and religious wars
2. Hypocrites, racists, weirdo's, and bad evangelists
3. Disunity of the Church (denominations)
d. Misconceptions about the nature of a relationship with God
1. I have to give something up
2. I have to start pretending to be good
3. I have to hang out with hypocrites and self-righteous jerks.
4. What to include in your response:
acknowledgment of the issue
that's a good issue/question that many people are concerned about
b. appreciation for their honesty with you
"And I truly appreciate your honesty and openness with me about your concern here."
assurance that there are answers that
will probably help them with the issue
me assure you that you are not alone in asking this question over the past
centuries (smile), and that there are many, many approaches and answers
available, to help you feel comfortable about this."
d. (as needed) a brief summary of a possible answers [See chart]
[The chart of "tuff
statement that you have gotten answers,
later in time, to questions you initially had
too had some initial questions--and many more after that (smile)--but after I
began opening my life up more to God, I got satisfying answers to them. "
reminder that the God of honest
relationships is also the God of truth, and that He cares for their peace of
mind in this area
good news is that the God who wants us to be honest with Him about who He is
and who we are, is obviously committed to truthfulness, and with His good
heart, is also concerned that we come to peace of mind about this issue, over
to find information on this for their further research, if they are interested
this problem is really eating at you--to the point of impeding your thinking
process about the more fundamental issues of you and God--then I will be happy
to find some material to help you de-fuse this. Do you think you need me to do
that for you, or is it something that can wait until you work through the more
to ask God for peace of mind in this area, as well as the initial area of
this is a troubling issue for you, why don't you also ask God in private to help
you find peace of mind in this issue, in addition to the other challenges in
your life we have been talking about over the past few weeks?"
i. suggestion that they keep thinking through the more fundamental issue of where God should be in their life and experience.
"I know these kinds of questions can be troublesome, and even difficult to work through in times like this, but let me encourage you to keep the more fundamental issues at a higher priority in your thinking, Steve. The deep issues of our hearts, lives and values should probably not take a back seat to this slightly more academic question...just my suggestion, from one who faced a similar issue when I first opened up to the bigger issues of life."
5. Know where to point them for more info...