How Do I Have Meaningful Conversations_ study guide

How Do I Have Meaningful Conversations?

Newbreak’s Sermon Study Guide is an in-house resource that serves sermon-based Life Groups and/or individuals who want to reflect further on how the message contributes to their spiritual formation. In this week’s study, we talk about what it looks like to have meaningful conversations with those who believe differently than us.

Icebreakers for Life Groups

  • What time of day do you feel most tired?
  • When was a time you had a meaningful conversation with someone who thinks differently than you? What made it good compared to the many bad examples?

How do I have meaningful conversations with those who believe differently than me?

Read Ephesians 6:12

Point 1 – Realize we are in a cosmic war, not a cultural war.

We all have seen the effects of “cancel culture.” Something is said or done either in the past or present that offends the status quo and the offender is ostracized from society. But even if not all Christians participate in this, many still make culture the battlefield where the war is to be fought. Paul does not leave this up for interpretation... our war is not against people.

People are our mission, not our enemy!

We need to keep this at the forefront of our minds. Because we do have an enemy–the Devil, Satan, the One who leads legions of powers of darkness. He is the antagonist. He is the antithesis of everything God stands for. He is at work in our world. And yes, while he is certainly trying to manipulate people, we cannot conflate the two. God is in the business of redeeming people. Let’s not step in the way by making the cosmic war into a cultural war.

So, here is what it comes down to for us. Let’s refuse to demonize those who view things differently. And let’s learn to see people as God sees them.

Questions for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection

  • What practical difference is there between recognizing that we are in a cosmic war, not a cultural one?
  • How does the victory of Jesus influence how we operate in a culture that doesn’t recognize it?
  • What is the difference between disagreeing with someone (even on an important issue) and demonizing them? Do you have a personal example that helps illustrate the difference?

How do I have meaningful conversations with those who believe differently than me?

Read 1 Corinthians 13:4–7

Point 2 – Commit to the long road of love.

1 Corinthians 13:4, 7 (NLT) Love is patient...Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

“Love is patient” (it takes the long road and loves them wherever they are at). Love and patience go together like Peanut butter and jelly. That’s why patience helps describe love in 1 Corinthians 13, and why they are both listed among the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–23).

Patience is one of God’s most commonly cited attributes in the Old Testament! It is a hallmark of what makes God so good. Love is patient. It’s a verb in Greek. It can be translated: “Love practices patience.” That means patience is an action, it is something we choose to do! It reflects the Hebrew concept of being “long-nosed.” Breathe!!

Patience can colloquially be translated as “having a very long fuse.” While many are short-tempered or even trained to live in a state of outrage, Christians can be a refreshing breath of patience. A refreshing “breathe,” get it? Breathe! Breathe again.

When we breathe through a situation we are practicing patience by choosing to not impulsively react. Instead, we process. We choose the way of love which often is the more difficult way. And, honestly, it’s pretty accurate to how it is when we are in a relationship with someone who believes the polar opposite as us on an important issue–especially on issues of faith. It’s easy to lose our temper and allow our frustration to make us want to give up and part ways. But that’s not how we are called to love.

“Love is patient” means that love knows how to suffer well for the sake of the one who is loved. It means not giving up on someone. Yet, often (if we are honest) sometimes our friendships with those who are not Christians have contingencies. Like, “I’ll be friends with them and offer them Jesus. But if they turn me down seven times, I’ll move on.” That’s not what we want to exemplify! We want to model friendships with those who believe differently that have ultimate motives, not ulterior ones. Ultimately, we want people to come to know Jesus–that is our ultimate motive. But it’s not a gimmick like the ulterior motives of those in some multi-level marketing companies where someone asks to get together for coffee and to catch up only to hear a “pitch.”

Jesus is everything to us (or at least he should be), so he will organically come up in conversation when people spend time with us, but we should not become people who treat it like a sales job and leave people behind as soon as they become a “cold lead.” Love is willing to endure, for an indefinite amount of time. Again, this is simply in the context of friendships with others who believe differently and let’s keep it at that.

Questions for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection

  • How does “patience” add texture to the kind of love we are called to exhibit?
  • How does patient, enduring love contribute to more meaningful conversations with those who believe differently?
  • How does this point challenge you, personally?

How do I have meaningful conversations with those who believe differently than me?

Read Colossians 4:5–6; John 14:6; Psalm 16:11

Point 3 – Learn to be compelling with my faith instead of combative with it.

Let’s be clear that truth is what matters most when it comes to perceiving and explaining reality. Jesus is the truth. In fact, he even claims to be “the truth” in John 14:6. But there are also two other words in that famous verse that help communicate what he is.

Yes, Jesus is the “truth” and he satisfies our deepest need. But that is only the beginning. Jesus is also “the way” and “the life” in that he satisfies our deepest desire. Because as you grow in your faith your need never goes away but it does evolve into something even more beautiful–a want. Because everything in your story changes when you don’t just need Jesus, but when you want him! He isn’t just your Savior, he is your love. He isn’t just someone you pray to when you need something, He is someone you prioritize communing with every single day! He is not just a part of your life–He is your life. And all of this is not just because Jesus is the right answer among many religious explanations to reality. But It is because Jesus is simply beautiful and worthy of your whole life being reoriented around him: abiding in his love and participating in his mission.

People need a compelling vision of what Jesus offers. Can we give that to them? The great thing is that we don’t have to give Jesus a makeover. He doesn’t need us to dress him up so that others are impressed. Quite the opposite. The real, living Jesus, revealed in Scripture and highlighted by the active ministry of Holy Spirit–He is so wonderful. I would even venture to say if we do this well–if we follow Holy Spirit’s leading and show how wonderful Jesus is, I bet that even if people still have hang-ups about the truth of Christianity they will at least start cheering for it and rooting for it to be true. Friends, we hold the truth. And that will always be central. But right now, people also need us to show the majesty of what it means for Jesus to be the “way” and the “life.” Jesus is the better way.

Psalm 34:8 (CSB) Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the person who takes refuge in him!

Imagine what might happen if we become people who make a ministry of giving people appetizers of the Lord’s goodness?

The world offers a way to be human and it will always come up empty. Jesus offers us a way to be human in relationship to himself. His offer is better. Jesus is better. And that’s worth sharing with everyone. That’s Gospel. That’s compelling.

Questions for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection

  • What is an example of someone being combative with their faith? How is that not helpful or compelling?
  • Think about the Gospels... when is a time Jesus demonstrated how compelling he is and what he offers?
  • Jesus is better than anything this world can offer. Does this resound as the way in which you live and share your faith? Or (if you are honest) does your faith come across far more brass or pessimistic? How can this conversation inspire something different?

Memory Verse: 1 Corinthians 13:7 (NLT) Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Final Challenge Questions

  • How are you going to think or live differently in light of what you have read, heard, and discussed this week?
  • How does this week’s message shape or nurture your relationship with God?
  • BONUS: For those of you with kids or around kids: What is one truth from this message that you can share with your kids in a way that they would relate to or understand?

About Our Current Sermon Series

It’s not just you. We all feel like conversations regarding faith, the Bible, and Jesus can be polarizing and uncomfortable in times like these. However, it’s also a time when there are exciting opportunities to have meaningful conversations regarding some big questions revolving around what we believe and why. But this is up to us to lead the way in what it looks like to have compelling conversations. Join us for this series as we talk about some big questions that are worth asking and worth exploring!

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