Changing the Conversation (#629)

In the aftermath of Wayne's TEDx talk, it looks like God may be freshly stirring Wayne's heart to restart BridgeBuilders and see if there are ways to change how we communicate with each other across the diversity of culture. We don't have to agree with each other to be gracious and seek not only for our interests, but also to serve the interests of others that may be different from our own. This strikes not only at our political conversation, but also how we interact with people every day. There's too much anger and arrogance in our dialog these days, and a bit of humility and kindness will go a long way not only to changing the conversation, but also to arrive at policies will serve the common good rather than the special interests of a few well-connected individuals.

Podcast Notes:
The all new BridgeBuilder website
The Jesus Lens
The latest news from our project in Kenya
Add your voice to our question/comment line via Skype at "TheGodJourney"

13 Comments

  1. Commenting on today’s Richard Rohr message (related):

    Sadly though, where all such movements and organizations fail is their lack of partnership with and recognition of Divine LOVE (God by any other name).

    “Your body is not an isolated, separate entity. We are our truest selves only in community—with our ancestors (carrying their stories and DNA), our natural environment, and our neighbors. We hold the mystery of transformation, “making up in our own body what still has to be undergone by Christ for the sake of the larger body” (Colossians 1:24). We are not in this alone, and our unique gift is essential to make the Body of Christ whole.”

    That DNA (“in our image”) is the lost key . . . and sadly with Dr. King’s death the CRM seemed to lose the key? And others who are trying to follow are having difficulty finding it again.

    The Church (Body of Christ) and its true leaders (followers of Christ) have the key and must use it to lead.

    }:- ??

    Hoofnote: In my own beloved City of the Sacraments (Sacramento, CA) recently we saw the beginning of this when Parnell Lovelace and others, (those leader/followers in our community) led a city council meeting in prayer before talking about changes needed here. Note too that leaders and followers were given space throughout the meeting for prayer and counsel. https://www.sacbee.com/latest-news/article208537814.html

  2. Great, thought-provoking and stimulating podcast. Thanks.

    One of the nuggets I personally took from this is that we don’t have to understand everything we read in the Bible. That, in holding scripture before the Lord over a period of time, we can allow the Holy Spirit to give us a deeper, broader insight into what certain scriptures mean, as He personally gives us revelation of himself.

    I love that.

    We’re so used to ‘instant’ revelation, especially from the pulpit, that we maybe think that we’ve got to understand everything immediately, right now.
    Being free NOT to have to understand immediately, has set me free to read stuff I thought I understood, but which doesn’t quite fit with the God I’m getting to know, and say: ‘Hey Lord, there’s something not quite right here, where am I missing it?’ and hold that scripture before the Lord until I grow into a position where He can show me, however long that takes.

    Thanks. You’ve shown me that it’s OK not to know. And actually, it was a bit stupid pretending I did.

    Appreciate you guys.
    I’m back in China for a while.

  3. Hi Wayne & Brad,

    You often refer to the wielding of power & control & the way in which leaders seek to manipulate others for their own glory. I wonder if these things aren’t born out of fear. Fear which arises from their own sense of inadequacy to effect the changes in the people they have been lead to believe are “their responsibility”. My husband, Doug, & I sat eating lunch in a food court at the mall yesterday & couldn’t help but over-hear the conversation being had between 2 young men who were obviously in ” pastoral leadership roles”. One was detailing to the other how to select a group of leaders who could be responsible for the ‘pastoral care’ of a certain number of the congregation, etc, etc,… thus relieving the load of care from the man at the top. – all tidily structured into a hierarchical system. (I had visions of Kim Jong-un’s military forces on parade.) For each of these guys the time will come – probably sooner rather than later – when they will see that their ‘system’ is inadequate to produce good fruit, but having been assured of success will think that they simply need to double their efforts, & increase their powers of persuasion.
    Is this not all build on a ‘gospel of sin management’ which requires the development of virtue through self-effort.

    I have come to realize that the Gospel of God’s Love frees me to Repent – re-turn to the One who first loved me. That He invites me to recognize a different accompaniment to my life; that in yielding my broken & hardened parts to Him (as He shows them to me) He has promised to give me a new heart, a new life.

    This Good News is not what many folk are hearing. Thank you for declaring it so unashamedly! 🙂

  4. Hi Wayne,
    I think continuing with bridge builders is an excellent idea- for everyone!!
    This middle part of this pod cast started stirring some questions in me about God and homosexuality.
    First, I’d like to say- I’m not gay, I don’t have a personal need to validate homosexual relationships.
    Second, if I am completely honest I would have to admit that at the moment I don’t feel super “spirit lead”, but even after I was first saved and felt his over flowing presence and love, and in myself felt like a fountain of gratitude pouring out, I never agreed with the thought that homosexuality was a sin.
    In fact, I felt an overwhelming recognition that they were as welcomed as we are. I even wrote a letter to “the gay church” in our community telling them how much they were loved, though I didn’t send it because it contradicted what I was being taught.
    The middle part of the pod cast talked about abandoning the scriptures, or interpreting the scriptures in a way that makes God who we want him to be.
    I honestly don’t believe I am doing that. But, I do believe we all may have interpreted the verses about homosexuality incorrectly.
    I am not asking this as a challenge, but trying to seek an honest understanding (because this was always something that I could not completely reconcile) …What in God’s character would make you agree that homosexuality is a sin?
    I know we have the verses in Romans, and a few other places (Ephesians maybe?). But why do we read some verses in the context of the culture at the time, (such as women wearing their hair long etc.) and not others?
    Why cant we take in to account that the bible was assembled by a exclusive group of white men that would likely agree with some things and not other things?
    I DO believe there is truth in the bible, but I question whether we understand what it is saying sometimes.
    So,we take God’s character into account. And, I don’t understand what in God’s character would agree that honest and abiding love, that which is given to another for their growth and maturity , that creates a stable and nurturing environment would be deemed as a sin because it is towards the wrong gender.
    It does not make sense to me.
    Why would he chose for someone to not fully be who they are, not have a family and a sense of belonging, not experience falling in love because it was with the wrong gender.
    I believe God wants us to be whole human beings. I believe he accepts us and loves us as we are. I believe a part of reconciliation towards wholeness and holiness is “being love” to others. Giving acceptance freely, giving belonging.
    I believe that when we do that for others, it helps them have the capacity to continue giving that gift.

    I know I’ve heard you talk about homosexuality is a twist, a sin , in the personality. But I see so many twists and sins in heterosexual relationships that I cannot believe God would deem a healthy homosexual relationship absolutely sinful, and equate it with an unhealthy heterosexual relationship.
    I don’t think God does that, I think we do that – because it is different than what we would deem “normal.”

    I really would love your feedback on my question- what in God’s character would make you believe that this variation in love would be considered as against God?

    Thank you for reading and your feedback.

    • Hi Lindsey,

      The scriptures teach we are all born in sin. However sin expresses itself in many different ways. Homosexuality is not the only sin mentioned. 1 Corth.6:9. Lists thieves, greedy, drunkards, slanderers and swindlers and we can all think of some others that are not mentioned there.

      Maybe we should ask ourselves is homosexuality any different from all the rest of the sin mentioned. At this moment in history, contrary to the other sins listed here, homosexuality seems to be celebrated by our larger society with a pioneering excitement. It is seen as a good thing, as the new hallmark of society’s progress. However sin is sin, which is why the angel told Mary Jesus would be born to save us from our sins.

      We should encourage each other to speak the truth in love into this confusion; The cross is the expression of his love. Dealing with sin -“That’s wrong” – and speaking -“I love you.” We speak good news, most glorious words of the cross — the same words that God spoke to us — “It’s wrong but you’re loved.” So Loved.

    • Hi Lindsey. Your questions deserve a more extensive and thought out answer thanI can possibly do here. This subject matter is a minefield for many and misunderstandings can happen so easily by way of an email. But let me give some broader thoughts. Just because I don’t like something God asks me to do, or desire something else doesn’t mean he’s not loving to me in asking me not to go down that road. The obvious important question here is if same-sex engagement (notice I didn’t say attraction) is a sin. Attraction of itself can’t possibly be sin. The desire isn’t wrong in my view; it’s learning how Father wants us to negotiate the desires.

      Can I imagine a character in God that would deny something so deeply tied to love? And the answer unfortunately is, yes. And I say unfortunately because I would love to discover some day that the Scriptures on this topic are being misapplied, misunderstood, or didn’t represent God’s heart in the first place. But I haven’t gotten thereat. And this is something I am discussing with those who hold same-sex attractions, and a growing relationship with God to see what he’s showing them. Remember, his “laws” are now written on our hearts by the Spirit, not in moral codes, even New Testament based. God untwists us from the inside, not we change ourselves from the outside. So I watch those who are living in the Spirt and what they feel God is saying to them about their same-sex attraction as a piece of all of this.

      If God is saying, ‘no’, it’s not because it is something so wrong he can’t tolerate it but because it is genuinely damaging to the person he made us to be. I get that this is very complicated with same-sex attraction. You may not see anything wrong with people loving each other just because they are of the same gender. And to be clear, the loving isn’t the problem; it’s taking that loving into sexual engagement that’s the problem. Saying that to a couple who wants to celebrate that love is themes painful conversations I have. But I tell them that’s how I see it, and they are welcome not to follow it. God will still love them. As you say there are worse sins believers fall victim to every day and some of those are inside heterosexual relationship.

      But can I imagine a God who warns us against just following our own desires? I can. And do. First, because he knows far more than I do. I would never have agreed with his decision to put a tree in a garden or a Son on a cross. God always defies my expectations of him, even on how deep his goodness goes. Second, I wouldn’t presume to make my interpretations of his character more trustworthy than his revelation of himself in Scripture. Yes, I get that the Scriptures have often been misused to beat up people, and have been carelessly interpreted to disfigure God, but the abuse of something doesn’t negate its value.

      I have had many desires in my life that my Father has asked me to lay down and I haven’t always been faithful to do so when he first asks. But there have been many times when I finally surrendered to what he wanted that I could see the wisdom and experience the wonder that following led me to experience. He knows best in every way.

      My heart goes out to those with same-sex attraction more than you know. I don’t look at it as their personal sin that they somehow deserved, but simply the challenge they’ll need to face together with God. While they struggle here his love still covers them, and their only hope of finding the freedom to navigate it is for God to make himself known in them and transform them from the inside.

      We all have desires like that and perhaps our sexual desires are the worst to resist and surrender. They are so strong and seem connected to our very identity. Just because someone wants to leave their spouse to marry a mother woman they thing is their “soul mate”, doesn’t make it the right thing to do. My heart goes out to those whose desires don’t easily align with Father’s desires for them. I get how huge that challenge is and how much love holds them in the midst of it.

      And we can love them in all the ways you suggest, even when they are living beneath the choices we might want them to make and let God do what he does to invite them into freedom. If the Son of Man didn’t come to judge, then why do we think we get to?

      • Wayne, this is maybe too much for a written topic.
        I have some thoughts but may be difficulty to explain. I will think them through and hopefully write back.
        Thank you for your willingness to dialog!

    • Lyndsey and Wayne thank you for your comments. Lyndsey your question about homosexuality has been a question of mine just of recent. Even when I read the word it just stuck out to me as wrong or as said in the podcast “not in line with the God I know” so I desire to take that scipture to the LORD and ask for His counsel. I appreciate also what was said about not needing to have the answer now but take it before the LORD and ponder. I do see what Wayne is saying as well about homosexuality…not what we were created for sexually and would be hurtful to us. I think we have had so much damning of it that maybe that’s how I have read those scriptures through that filter rather than through God’s love.
      I’m also wanting to seek God more about what Lyndsey pointed out that the Bible was put together by white men.
      And recently the Spirit revealed to me that I was being religious with my daughter and wanting her to read the Bible…He showed me how decieving religiousity is. My daughter cried to me one day, “mommy I feel like my relationship with Jesus isn’t doing that well” “why honey” I said. “Because I don’t read the Bible and I don’t really even want to”. I then replied, “do you think that if you got up every morning and read a book about daddy set it down and then never played with him, talked with him, or snuggled with him that you would have a good relationship with him because you read some pages in a book by him?” She giggled and said no. That night I asked her what she thought made a good relationship to which she came up with:
      1)forgiving and not getting mad at each other
      2)telling the truth
      3)enjoying time together
      4)respect/honor
      5)hugs and kisses and snuggles
      6)loving each other
      I asked her how her and Jesus were doing in all of those and she was elated and felt good about her relationship again with Jesus. She was feeling burdened and not measuring up because of not reading the Bible like I wanted her to…she felt my religiousity of performance. Now…I said these things to her but I knew I didn’t believe them!!!! I knew I wanted to believe this but I still had this idea that she needed to read her bible often or everyday to have a good relationship and I asked God to help me! He did!!!! He revealed to me I was deceived and needed religious performance regarding the Bible to be broken in my life. My daughter loves scripture when she gets it with devotions or song or some other context just it hasn’t been intriguing to her just to read the Bible at this season in her life. So we do read together but I’m free from the deception that to have a good relationship with Jesus one needs to read the Bible as often as some may think they should.
      Actually when listening in the podcast about Christians who don’t read their bible thoughts of discouragement arose about my husband not reading the Bible often….I was putting myself/my husband under the standard that “a true Christian” will read their bible however often the persons standard is. But I know that’s false as my hubs is beautifully not religious and sound in his faith…I’m incredibly thankful he is not religious and our girls are growing up with their daddy being a picture of their Heavenly Daddy who lavishes them with affection, affirmation, and wants to be with them regardless of performance…and points them to Christ because of Him in him …an ever flowing River of Life. So so so thankful that there are not demands or actually even questions from him if our daughters have read their bibles…he just follows the Spirit and RESTS ever so securely in His Love…how great a gift our girls to grow up with that!

      • Victoria, thank you for your comment :). I am going to re-read it and process it a bit, but I felt I needed to make a correction. I don’t know if the counsel that agreed on what books to include in the Bible were white or not. But if we were to use “white man” as slang, it would mean the same things. The ones in power, the ones who exert influence.
        I would hope that inspiration was a part of the process, but so often we deem what is familiar as “right”, whether it legitimately is or not.

  5. As always, I appreciated the topic and the discussion. I think Christians have created problems for themselves with their neighbors and communities. Certainly in my community. So it seems funny to hear Brad ask why people are intolerant and are not open to dialogue with people with different points of view. For years Christians have been ‘mad’ about school prayer and then abortion, then marriage laws. Because they think God is behind them and as my husband says, ‘abortion is about killing people’, they seem to feel entitled to disrespect people with different needs or viewpoints. Hasn’t this been going on for a while? I think 30+ years with school prayer. It has become an embarrassment to me as a Christian, seeing people outside the church insulted or demeaned as devils or working with the devil, abominations, baby killers, and more. Sometimes it is not as inflammatory but still insulting.

    I’ve been thinking about something else for a while and I’m going to get some criticism, but I think Brad needs to find another question besides ‘why?’ ‘Why don’t people read their bibles more?’ “Why do people keep repeating the same mistakes?” “Why don’t people move forward in their relationship with God?” (Maybe not the exact questions, but pretty close) This question leads to standing off at a distance from the other person, like they are a specimen or an incomprehensible entity rather than a person just like me. There’s superiority in it, because this person is doing something undesirable and I can’t begin to understand where they are coming from. (I don’t think I’ve heard him ask, “why are people so persistent in the face of setbacks, or why so forgiving or why are people so kind to one another. It’s something negative about other people he wants to know ‘why’ about.) If you look inside and ask yourself, why might I do or feel or think these things, you come closer than standing back asking ‘why, why, why?’ I hope what I’m saying make sense. It’s really not just a mean rant. Feel free to set me straight Brad, on what has lead you to be stuck on that question format.

    • Hi Lisa,

      I wonder if there might be another way to look at Brad’s “why” comments. I find myself often asking “why” and pondering what makes people act and react in the differing ways they do. It’s not a judgemental attitude on my part, just a genuine desire to understand where others are coming from. In the end, if my pondering doesn’t produce any satisfactory conclusions I have a favourite saying “different people, different ways” . At that point I find I can happily move on to the next “why” to ponder.
      God bless

    • Hi Lisa — my apologies if asking “why” comes across as offensive or judgmental in some manner of superiority. I don’t think that reflects my thinking or what is in my heart. It really is born out of honest inquiry. I don’t want to assume I know people’s motives or the reasoning behind what they do or why they think the way the do– so for me, asking why is an introduction point for further discussion and trying to examine that. It’s simply asking a question that will hopefully help lead us to something deeper. I ask why to just about everything –but don’t consider that as some arrogant posture, negatively demeaning others. But that’s ‘me’ — if it comes across the way you are interpreting me, then that pretty much “sucks” — not what I’m looking to engender. So if I insult you or have been a source of the angst you are expressing — forgive me. Not sure I know how to be all that different, nor do I really want to get all in my head and be afraid to ask questions for fear of how some people may hear it — but I’ll try to be more discerning and not condescending as I think you are perceiving me. I don’t think you are accurately hearing what’s in me, but perhaps you are and I’m blind to it. I don’t know. In reading and re-reading your post, I don’t really resonate with your response and the assumptions you make (especially your summary in the 1st paragraph: we’re probably coming from very different perspectives and backgrounds with different communities. I think the broad brush with which you would say “Christians have created problems for themselves” might be a fair complaint for some, but certainly not all, and feels like a bit of a reactionary leg sweep on the matter, which then concludes with a bit of an overstatement that doesn’t express the thoughts of many of the people I know or am in relationship with… ) — but I appreciate your feedback because that’s not how I am wanting our discussion (or my part within it) to come across. Again, my apologies. I fully realize I am not everyone’s cup of tea or favorite. Whether it’s a mean rant or not — thank you for sharing your perspective. I’ll take what I can to heart.

  6. Hi Brad,

    Probably my comment was not well framed regarding the why questions. I think it was too harsh. You have no need to apologize to me about your choices of inquiry. I don’t feel angst or insult, though others might. To learn new or more effective ways to search for answers does not require you to become inhibited. I spend my days talking to people about very private and painful life experiences. I have learned myself and largely from others how to inquire about human things in a way that is constructive and promotes finding useful answers. I can confidently say that in matters of the human heart and relationships ‘why’ is not helpful 95% of the time and ‘what’ and ‘how’ can be used to formulate many more questions about a topic or concern. I think we all spend time trying to improve how we come across to others and try to be more effective. That’s what I’m doing right now.

    As for the ‘Christians’ comment, you’ll notice I never referred to a quantity and I would never refer to a group using ‘all’. I believe it is true that Christians as a group have created an impression of the aggressive Christian over the last 20+ years of being politically active. Aggressive and Christian would never seem true put together in a sentence in the past but now it does. And I am aware of whole churches who present to the community as aggressively Christian. Perhaps you are very fortunate not to have experienced this yourself.

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