Cafe Chat......What if they don't think like ME?

I am so glad you joined us for a chat today at the Internet Cafe! The topic is not a light one, but a very thought-provoking question.

Today at the Cafe, Kim asks us:

When it comes to an issue or truth that you believe in, maybe even feel like God revealed that truth to you; how do you respond to another Christian that might have the opposite view from you? Do you feel like the way you respond lines up with how God would want you to respond?

First of all, God ALWAYS wants me to respond in love.

This question is a little "tricky" because how I respond will definitely depend on if this is truth that God has revealed to me personally, or the Truth AND how God CALLS me to respond. There may be things in my own personal walk that God has spoken to my heart. But, that doesn't mean that He is teaching everyone (my friends, my husband, my small group members) the same truth at the same time.

Here's an example. Several years ago, when I was just beginning my walk with the Lord, He placed on my heart to throw away all of my Halloween decorations. I had several "cute" ghosts, witches, etc. I had a desire and conviction to GET RID of everything that represented Halloween. For me, (and this is where we have to be careful. I don't want anyone reading this post to feel condemned if God hasn't laid on your heart the same convictions!) I couldn't stand any Halloween decorations to be in my home- no matter how "cute"! I filled a whole garbage can with decorations.

Now, here is the thing.....I know several Christians who do "celebrate" Halloween and put up witches, ghosts, Frankenstein, etc. God may not have placed on THEIR hearts to toss all of the decorations. I am not to condemn them and tell them all to throw away their decorations. I AM NOT THE HOLY SPIRIT! But, I do share openly with my friends what God has shown ME about it.

Here's another one. There are several TV shows I would not watch because they are not glorifying to God. If I would watch them, the Holy Spirit convicts me and I feel uncomfortable. But, that doesn't mean that I go to my friends and tell them to stop watching their favorite TV shows. I DO openly and honestly share what God is teaching ME and the struggles I may have with obeying. I share how the Spirit is led me and taught me, and allow the Holy Spirit to do the convicting.

God has taught me a truth that I need to get up and spend time with Him daily first thing in the morning. I don't "impose" this truth on others. Again, I share with them my personal experience of needing the Lord's presence and guidance first thing. I share with them that I need to fill up on Him before I try to go about my day, otherwise I find myself depending on my own strength and not Him. But, I can't force this truth on others. I share my own experience, but the desire and truth has to come from the Holy Spirit.

Diet Coke. I used to be addicted and drank several cans a day. God spent a lot of time teaching me about my body being the temple for the Holy Spirit and that DC was horrible for it. God has convicted ME of not drinking it. Although now I drink it in once in awhile, FOR ME, going back to a lifestyle of having it daily would be sin.

So, it is IMPORTANT to SHARE what God is teaching you personally, but don't be judgemental and condemning. I have learned the hard way that only God can do the work of the Holy Spirit.

But, there is a difference between what truths God is teaching you personally and THE Truth. I believe we need to be honest with one another with His Truth and sin.

For example, if a friend would start gossiping about someone on the phone with me, I would stop the conversation and say something like, "I'm sorry. I don't feel comfortable with this. I have struggled with gossip and need to be careful not to engage in it. I don't like to talk about someone when they aren't here."

Now, I am a chicken in person. I can think of two times I walked into a group who was gossiping. I excused myself and walked away immediately without participating, but didn't say anything. I didn't say, "hey guys, this is wrong. We shouldn't talk about someone like that. It's gossip."

And, for me, it's much easier to be honest and authentic in a small group. We are all there to grow in our maturity in the Lord. Our hearts WANT to turn from sin, to walk closer to the Lord, to press in. So, speaking the Truth in love is "welcomed."

But, there are times in life when God WILL call you to sit down with someone, IN LOVE, and confront them about a sin.

God has called me to confront a friend about her sin, BUT, HE INITIATED IT!!!! He opened the door for the conversation. He placed on my heart such a strong command to talk to her that when I stalled, trying to avoid it, I had such a sense of unrest, no peace. I knew without a doubt that God was commanding me to talk to her.

I have a friend that is caught in a sexual sin. God placed on my heart to sit with her and confront her lovingly, sharing with her that this sin was not God's best for her and that it hurt Him deeply that she would walk in disobedience. I knew it could only be God because we had an incredible, loving conversation full of tears (from both of us). The conversation brought us closer together as friends. Her sin, which was out in the open but never discussed had become "the elephant in the room." After our conversation, we can openly talk about. And, she knows that I care about her enough to bring up uncomfortable things BECAUSE I love her.

My hairdresser, on the other hand, is a different example. He is homosexual. I have known him for 8 years and God has NOT placed on my heart to confront him. Instead, I pray for him and LOVE him. I share with him personal stories of my own convictions and battles. He asks many questions. I wait for a time when GOD OPENS THE DOOR to talk to him about it.

Wow, I know this is a long post....didn't mean to ramble and I don't know if I even answered the question! LOL! These were the thoughts that came to my mind....

I guess one last thing. Kim asked us how we respond to people with the opposite view of us with truths God has spoken to us.

Again, I believe we need to be honest, but NOT try to be the Holy Spirit. I think politics is a good example.

God has laid on my heart that I can NOT vote for a politician who is pro-choice. Period. No discussions. I also care if the politician would support gay marriage. I would not vote for him. God has revealed to ME personally these truths and I am passionate about my political beliefs. But, I have had conversations with other Christians who do believe the OPPOSITE. They voted and were concerned with economic issues. And, although we had conversations where I prayed over the conversation, gave bible references, and shared what God has taught me, they didn't change their beliefs. They voted the same. These conversations were difficult. And, I have to admit I couldn't believe they thought differently than ME! (I tend to need to be "right", especially when I know God has taught me things).

I had to be intentional in NOT allowing these conversations to taint my love for this person. I dreaded seeing another email in my inbox from her. I would have liked to avoid responding. AND, I needed to pray over each word of my responses, making sure God was directing my words. I had to be aware and alert and not allow strife to enter in my heart. When I saw here at church at Christmas, a fleeting negative feeling came over me. But, I pushed it away, hugged her genuinely and tightly and wished her "Merry Christmas." In that instance, all negative feelings vanished I did feel love towards her. Through it all, the words I heard at a Joyce Meyer conference in September kept rolling through my mind: "We are not responsible for anyone else's vote. In the end, we are only responsible for our own."

Please stop over at the Cafe and join our chat!

6 thoughts shared....:

Toknowhim said...

Wow, what a great post... We have some things in common... We will have to get together and "Chat" again :)

Thanks for sharing!!!!!! Kim

Kathryn said...

Oh, Tracy, I so appreciate this post! And, I loved your clarification of THE TRUTH and the truths that God personally reveals to each of us.

Many of my recent convictions have been the same as yours. About three years ago, I "spiritually housecleaned", throwing away any music, books, movies, memorabilia, and anything else the Lord laid on my heart. None of it was "bad", but anything that did not honor, glorify, or please the Lord was removed from my home, even if it was "benign" stuff. I just followed the lead of the Holy Spirit. I didn't sell anything or give it away. I THREW it away. The Lord convicted me that if it wasn't beneficial for me to have, it wasn't beneficial for anyone else to have, either.

This past autumn, under the conviction of the Spirit, I trashed every single Halloween decoration that remained in the garage. He has also taken away my desire to watch some television shows, which, while they are not "bad", just have no overwhelming eternal value. My family and I have become increasingly convicted to eat and drink more healthfully, eliminating much of the processed food and beverages from our diets.

And, Tracy, although I "decked the halls" this past Christmas, I also have begun to pray about even having Christmas decorations after I read Jeremiah 10:3-4 with fresh eyes: "For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter."

This Scripture made me question my decision to decorate in the secular tradition! Now, I do not idolize my Christmas tree, but I wonder if it is a compromise and a poor witness to the watching and unbelieving world. Even if it is not evil, is it a waste of time? Does it detract from the nativity? Does it consume us when our time could be better spent on things of eternal value? I'm feeling so, and I'd love your thoughts.

Oh, girl, don't get me started! I could keep typing, but this is long enough. :-)

Thanks for a wonderful post!

Veronica Lee said...

Hi Tracy. I love your blog. Welcome to MBC!

Denise said...

God bless your dear heart. said...

Very interesting insight. I think many of us desire to be right, especially when we feel we have Scripture to back us. However, often we have to realize "How" we respond is just as important as any truth we have to share.

And yes, what God places on my heart today may not be placed on another heart for a year or more. Until that time, I must obey, but not harshly enforce or judge others who are not in that same place of obedience.

Blessings to you!

Faith Imagined said...

Great post! Lots of truths in it!!!