To engage or not to engage? That is the question

As someone who wants to love the LGBTQ community, I have been listening to and reading what I can to help me know what the Bible says so I can know where to stand, learn a winsome way to articulate where I stand, and stand in love and grace. Most recently, I read Sam Allberry’s book “Is God Anti Gay.” I posted about it on twitter… Then someone I dont know and never met replied to my post on twitter as if it was anti gay and basically said that God wants him to be gay. I did not affirm that. I only affirmed that he has intrinsic value and worth, was knitted in his mothers womb by the God who created the universe, and told him that the book would be good for him to read. He posted a pic with an expletive. Clearly a hurting and misled person who seems quite angry. The swear words dont bother me. If we want to engage the world, we cant walk around offended all the time. I did not respond. Somehow his post got removed… I dont even know how to do that. But if I want to learn apologetics, Im going to be on the front line of a lot of angry people asking hard questions and/or throwing anger my way so Id better get used to it, right? So when is the time to walk away? How do we walk away kindly? How do we know when to continue engage? Where is the line drawn?

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Hello Shari, your post is leading me to ask if this happened on the RZIM Connect forum? If in fact it did that responce per our guidelines would have been deleted for negative content.
Please share this with a Moderator below.

Your moderator team includes @KMac, @jspare, @Joshua_Hansen, @Lizibeth, and @RachelW . @CarsonWeitnauer).
I will await your reply
Mike

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Goodness no! Im so sorry I wasnt clear. I will edit my post to include that it happened on twitter. My most sincere apologies!!!

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I fixed it, Mike. Again, I am so sorry I wasnt more clear.

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That’s a very good question, @Shari. And that’s an excellent point you’ve made that if we’re going to engage the world, we can’t be constantly offended by lost people acting like lost people. It’s one I have to remind myself of. Frequently!

Jesus said in Matthew 7:6, Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. It sounds like you’re wondering how to know what you’re dealing with, and when to withhold your pearls.

I’d say the key is whether they’re willing to receive, to give an honest ear to your pearls of wisdom. If they’re just going to trample what you say underfoot and then attack you for saying it, then they’re not ready for it.

Of course, if this is a stranger we’re talking about, you can’t always know how they’ll respond until the topic comes up – not always. Some people do wear their feelings on their sleeve, and you can pick up on their defensive or hostile attitude right away. But usually you have to get to know people a bit, establish some sort of relationship with them, to earn the right to speak honestly about touchy things.

When you post things online the way you’ve described in this case, then the sort of reaction you received may be par for the course.

There are just some people who will not let you disagree however respectfully you try to do it on some topics. And you’re right – the reason is their anger, and it really has nothing to do with you. In those cases, you’ll just have to disengage and walk away.

Guilt is an intolerable burden for them to live with!

I hope you’ll find some of these thoughts useful.

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Oh, thank you so much @jlyons for your kind response. You truly got to the heart of my question. Your answer was helpful and you made me feel smart for asking it. :heart::heart:

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Well, yes - you were very smart to ask about how to handle difficult situations!

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Hi Shari

Thank you for your great question. I can really read of your heart and desire to evangelize to a lost and hurting world. The first thing I will add is not to think that when a person responds negatively to you that it means you have automatically done something wrong or were not operating in God’s will. I know this might not be your case Shari :slightly_smiling_face:. Sometimes we can judge ourselves and our apologetic technique, if you will, by how kind and cordial and receptive the participants were during the conversation. Now it is true that for Christians we should always be speaking out of a place of love, but must not mistake rudeness or rejection from the people we speak with as necessarily a failure on our part. Jesus and the apostles faced abuse and rejection and so it is something that we all can expect to face.

One of the things that I tend to try and do before engaging in any conversations of this nature, is to always check my heart. If I am there to win and argument, and not to represent Christ and lead people to know His love for them, then I may as well walk away. So for me, developing a heart that is falling more in love with Jesus is so important. It means that I speak out of the outflow of His love in my life. It means that I always recognize the value of the person right in front of me. Because of this value, if the person doesn’t want to engage or is not sincerely wanting to seek answers or truth, then I respect the person and meet them where they are at. There are many other ways we can love people without giving them an argument :slightly_smiling_face:. The times I might push further into a discussion will be if I sense the Holy Spirit telling me to do so. It is always important that we operate out of the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

In the case of the person that you were talking to on twitter, he doesn’t seem like somebody who really wants to talk more about it, and so, I probably also would not have made any further response. I possibly may have asked him a question to try and get more of his thoughts on the subject and start some sort of conversation.

So always respect the person you are talking with, love them and meet their needs, even if this need is not to speak with you anymore, haha. If they are being abusive to you in word or action, it is also a pretty good sign they don’t want to have a meaningful discussion anymore. But every conversation is different and so discretion and discernment are needed :slightly_smiling_face:.

Blessings

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Hey Shari @Shari. Great question. You are right, it is not always easy. As God said men love darkness that they dont want to come to the light. All of us are guilty of this. Now it is true that people’s response to our statement does not mean we did something wrong, but we can always get better. One thing Frank Trek and other apologist I have heard speak about is questions are always better to start with than to say statements. People dont want to be told :sweat:. But if you ask them a question, they could come to the same conclusion you want them to go or they may see the logical fallacies that they might be making. When he says God wants him to be gay. You could say how did you come to that conclusion? He might say he told me, I read it on scripture line, I just feel it etc. That can help you delve in to have more conversation with them and challenge their thought. If he misread a scripture, you could offer another question and say, could that be interpreted this way or that. Or if he says Oh because Jesus is love and he wants me to be happy. You get the idea. It is how Ravi says dont shoot at the rubber dummies. Back in the day in one of the wars, they dropped rubber tires from the planes to distract the troopers and missiles from the ground while the real soldiers dropped from the planes elsewhere. As Christians, we dont want to be shooting at targets that are not there, but questions will help see where they are coming from.

You are doing an amazing job tho. Keep it up. As Christ said

John 15:18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you."

I hope this helps.
God Bless.

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Thank you!

Thank you @Brian_Upsher and @Danageze! I totally appreciate what you added and am thankful you added it! The truth is that I tend to struggle with people pleasing and I also do have a tendency to automatically assume I am the one in the wrong when someones response seems unwarranted in that I wonder if my words came out wrong but I have worked purposefully on letting go of my people pleasing as it is death to me. At the same time, I have seen terrible things said to people that reeked of smugness and pride all under the guise of “love” because “it was truth.” Yet if God is love and Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, then truth without love is a lie, right? I love your suggestion on asking questions. My pastor is masterful at this yet in the moment, I am so busy questioning myself that I cant think of any questions to ask others. My confidence clearly needs to grow. Part of the reason my confidence is low is because I have had some brain issues that have caused short term memory loss and also caused word loss. (From extreme, prolonged stress) Im much better in written word communication but even that leaves much to be desired at times. So my own best “apologetic technique” is to say I’m sorry. LOL!!

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Thank you @Danageze! I included some of what I wanted to say to you in the other post I tagged youbin but I also wanted to say thank you for your encouragement and your practical suggestions of dealing with this situation in particular as I am sure I will deal with it again and now I will be better prepared! :slight_smile:

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Hey Shari @shari, thank you for reply and honesty. I always tell myself that God is the one who changes heart and that our job is to just point to the savior. When people are searching, nothing can stop them from finding the answer. It takes steps before someone goes into the “active mood.” For me what got me started seeking and asking is seeing a true Christian with actions and lifestyle of a true Christian. At the time, that was my roommate. He didnt even say a word. He just lived a life different than I. Never judged me. Then I just started to ask. Dont feel pressured to know all the answers. You dont know where people are in their journey to God and you wont know what specific thing you do that might get them one step closer. It could be your smile, or just your love back when they hate you. My Ethiopian grandma who may have had at best a 5-6th grade level education, who cant even articulate science or all the fancy apologetic, she shows the love of God in her own way. Keep doing what the Holy Spirit guides you to do. I am sorry that it has been difficult for you and I pray that the memory issue gets restored in God’s time. It is not easy in no way, but always remember to rely on God to know that no memory issue is an obstacle in God’s hands. The devil might tell you otherwise and make you anxious but tell him, no I am a God’s child and I can always point to the sign post that says “Come find Jesus,” even if I cant say a word.

My one good friend used to say “It is an honor to serve alongside with you” - Same to you.
God Bless you.

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Truth without love is a lie - great quote - thank you!

My last pastor (before I became a pastor) used to say something very similar:

If you state a biblical position, but you do it with an unbiblical disposition, then your disposition can drive people away from your position - it’s just as important to have a biblical disposition as it is to have a biblical position.

Or another way of putting it - Love has always been the spirit behind every letter of the law.

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Thank you, Dan @Danageze you really made me smile! My brain may not help me adequately communicate with words but God has gifted me with love and mercy. I splash it on everyone around me. :slight_smile:

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@jlyons, Dont quote me on that! Although I may have just said it, it sounds too smart to come from me. LOL I may be unknowingly quoting someone else! Because of my brain issues, I ask God to write His Word/Truth on the tablet of my heart and bring it to my mind because “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” :slight_smile:

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Shari, I’m touched by your heart to spread the Gospel online. I don’t have philosophical advice on how to know when to engage (frankly, I’m not sure myself) but do have practical tips.

I follow the Facebook group “Church Social Media Managers” on Facebook. It’s almost 20,000 Christians from around the world who share advice and trouble-shoot problems. You may get inspiration from how other folks handle social media.

I have also heard encouraging stories from the Digital Outreach Volunteer program run through Focus on the Family. They assign you social media posts, with the opportunity to share Christian love and receive feedback from a Focus on the Family mentor. This doesn’t address your question of how to know when to reply. However, it may be an opportunity to learn of helpful resources and approaches you can take on your own personal page?

I’ve been proven wrong on Twitter before, and I declined to reply because it seemed like it would only continue the painfully long thread/argument. (And maybe that’s just an excuse for not wanting to publicy admit I was wrong.) :woman_shrugging: However, know sometimes you’ve put a pebble in someone’s shoe you may not know about until eternity. Keep fighting the good fight and loving your neighbor!

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Thank you @Brittany_Bowman1 for responding, for sharing your experiences, resources and encouragement! :slight_smile:

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Amen! The Lord brought up the same verses to mind when I read @Shari‘s post. I also believe that even when someone is not open to receive the gospel and our effort may seem futile, we should actively pray for them and their salvation and that God opens their heart to experience Him. I truly believe that God brings the lost into our lives for a reason and we are to intercede and stand in the gap. I remember when I had a similar facebook incident with two other ppl 5 years ago and they said some awful things and I just felt sorry for them. Since then the group had been taken down but till date I still pray for them with the random names they had up back then, but I know God knows who I’m talking about and all. Anyways, may God bless you on your endeavors to win souls for His Kingdom!

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Shari, no problem didnt think it was just checking, thanks for correcting the post.
Hope you found the many responces insightful and helpful in dealing with your valuable question. We have many loving caring concerned folks here based on all the responces. God has truly blessed this forum.

Biblical Love 1 Cor 13 uneqivically overrides any thing contrary to restoration of all relationships on our part. It also says live at peace with all men as much as it depended on us.

I came to adopt a term of phrase called care front, not confront. Mathew 18:15-17 shares about the sinning brother. And at times a conflict is simply why, how, something was said, or done, maybe even misinterpreted by us or others. I do not have this available to me but a study showed that 97% resolution was possible. Lastly always forgive before you begin, it creates an open mind to understanding

Mike

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