We started our ‘30 Days of Love’ journey by looking at ‘Love as Endless Hospitality’ and today we are going to spend some time looking at ‘Love as Courageous Conversation’.
While we may be tempted to say the answer is ‘more people’ and/or ‘more money’, if our goal is more people and more money - even if the goals are reached, the church can still die. Why? Because the solution for a weak church or weak Christianity is not more bodies, bigger buildings and more money.
We need to rediscover the lost art of courageous conversation.
When was the last time you found yourself saying, “I’m in need of a real good lecture?”
When was the last time you found yourself feeling like you needed to be judged for the choices you made or didn’t make?
When was the last time you gained/learned/received real spiritual insight because you attended a church service?
Coffee? This is not a date!
Courageous Conversation part 1 - The Second Date (or what I thought was the first date)
Courageous Conversation part 2 - The urgent Saturday Early morning conversation
Now for some courageous conversations: Let’s take approximately 2 -3 minutes and talk to one another. Get into pairs and each answer the following:
When was the last time you had a courageous conversation?
Who was it with (no names please)? (e.g. Family member, co-worker, friend, at church, etc.)
Was it a good experience?
Was there a personal lesson/reflection you are willing to share?
While we were out of town these past 10 days, God began to speak as I continued to wrestle with what it means for us to be a place of hope, love, grace and peace. The answer? “You are an image bearer we want to know!”
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
It is imperative that we begin to embrace our createdness as being ‘image bearers’ as we live out the gospel in every aspect of our daily life.
To recognize one another as image bearers (regardless of one’s present relationship with the church) means having the courage and responsibility to know one another and the only way to ‘get to know’ one another is by having ‘courageous conversations.’
The following verses alone are enough to encourage lively and courageous conversation:
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good? To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today. Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. Your ancestors who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky.
Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said: “Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And as if this were not enough in your sight, Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant—and this decree, Sovereign Lord, is for a mere human!
These verses are an excerpt from David’s Prayer which was in response to God’s promise to David found in vs. 1-17
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
As ‘Followers of Christ’ it is good and important for us to wrestle, debate and learn from the questions these verses present. However, what may be even more important is after reading these verses or hearing teachings on these verses, is to have the courage to ask/say — So what? What difference does this make? In fact, I enjoy it when someone asks a question or challenges something I have said in a teaching. Truth be told, it does not happen enough. Now I am not talking about being argumentative or simply asking questions for the sake of asking. I am talking about begin engaged enough to hear or read something and ask ‘what does it mean?’, ‘why does it matter?’ or ‘How does this apply to living out the gospel today in 2017?’
Are we, as followers of Christ and members of the body (the church), ready to embrace questions of doubt, skepticism, anger, etc. from fellow image bearers?