How do I teach others about difficult topics?
How are you? Fine, I hope.
It may sound strange, but considering how much you've answered my questions and the frequency I read the site's articles and sermons, I've got used to your writing style and kind of feel like you are a close friend of mine. Every time a doubt pops up about some topic, theological or not, I visit the site to see the perspective posed there.
Well, I come again seeking your counsel on a number of issues. I apologize beforehand for the long email. If some of the questions were already answered in the site's archive, I ask you to please send me the link.
The first is about how to deal with my peers at church. You see, sometimes I find behaviors that I don't think are appropriate. Not that I'm a mature Christian -- I'm still growing in faith, knowledge, and love -- but there are times when I hear things that really sound disrespectful. For example, today after the worship some friends and I went to buy some snacks. A girl was talking about her need to diet and said, "But the Lord is good and His mercy stands forever." I found it wrong to use such a beautiful statement in that context. Even considering the fact that I know her, I'm not close. What should I do? Talk to them on the spot? Talk to them later one-on-one?
And in the cases when I don't agree with a particular thing in the worship? Like, there is a song where it is said, "The dreams of God are bigger than yours ..." God doesn't have dreams in the sense that we have. He has plans and decrees. What can I do?
The second topic is: How do I share the gospel correctly at my university? How do I tell everyone the truth: that we are all sinners in need of grace? There are homosexual men who are my colleagues but attend another class. I think it is unloving of me, even sinful, not to talk to them about this. But how? Being blunt? Waiting until the opportunity raises? Create an opportunity? Here people generally have a secular or Catholic background.
The third question is about girls. A long time ago I had a girlfriend. She was an Adventist. I was lost, not knowing Christ. After some events, she left the Adventist faith and I convinced her to sin. We develop the sinful habit of fornication. I feel responsible because it was I who insisted and introduced her to it. She didn't want it, but I insisted, and one day she finally did it. Guilty is the word -- I feel guilty. Now I know that was not love -- the true love that I Corinthians 13 talks about, but back then I was just so messed up. Well, even in those days I was not very attached to shows and parties, but she developed the taste for them. I slowly came to read more about Christianity and said that I was not going to fornicate anymore. She complained but understood, even though sometimes she asked me to do it. The fights about the parties and about some silly things made me break up with her. She wasn't very attracted to the idea of giving up the parties. She insisted on coming back, saying she would change, but I refused. Some months later, we had the same talk, and I refused again. For about almost a year I just tried to forget and move on.
Now there are things coming back to my mind. To be sincere, I miss her ... a lot. We had our differences, yes, but she trusted me and treated me with so much affection. After my refusals, she blocked me on almost every social media. The urge to say things to her, try to make amends, say that I'm sorry for giving up on the relationship, and not trying to do my part fixing all of that, and to come back to her is strong; but in my opinion, it would just make things less clear. I don't want to cause her any more pain. The best thing I or anyone can do for her is to show her Christ, not date her.
What should I do? If it is right and advisable, how do I do it while having feelings for the other person? Assuming that she agrees, how do I discern if she is really accepting the Word or just doing it for my sake? I believe mixing this will disturb the process of conversion if that is possible. I haven't talked to her in a long time. Am I the most adequate person to do it? At the same time, I keep in mind the fact that right now I'm very busy. My studies are demanding a great amount of time, but I'm not trying to use this as an excuse to avoid responsibilities. In the last three or four days, my head is being bombarded with tempestuous images and imaginations of our fornication. What are your thoughts on the situation?
In midst of all this, there is a girl whom I have known for a long time. She is a friend. She lives in another town, so we rarely see each other. She gave signs of interest in me, but she is not a Christian. I don't want to get involved with her in that sense, even though I found her very attractive. I used to visit her, but now I see how much this situation is dangerous. I'm still a young male and she is still a young female alone. I don't trust myself. She talks about seeing me, but I'm trying to do it just when there are more people around us, which is becoming rare. If I explain myself, I'm afraid I'll make myself and Christians appear bad. I can even imagine her saying, "These church people are so strict because they can't control themselves." How do I handle this?
I thank you for your time. God bless.
When you hear someone misspeak, realize that all people have moments when they don't think about their words carefully enough. But the goal of any Christian ought to be to encourage others to reach heaven. So, when someone says something off, ask them what they meant by their statement. In this way, you help them to start considering their words. In the example of the girl who misapplied a passage, simply ask: "I'm confused, how does a statement about God saving people (I Chronicles 16:34-35), have to do with your diet?" Most likely it will take her aback and she will realize that it wasn't the best thing to say.
In regards to the song, you are correct that to say that God dreams implies that He sleeps. "He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep" (Psalms 121:3-4). I know the songwriter probably used "dreams" as a way to express "desires," but the implication of sleeping is hard to avoid. Therefore, talk to the person who selects songs. "I've been thinking about that song you lead. I can't think of any verse that says God dreams. There are verses about His plans, His will, and His desires, but dreaming would imply sleeping and not paying close attention to events around Him. What do you think?" See where the conversation goes from there, but you've shown you were thinking about the song and about the word of God. You also told him that scriptural accuracy is important to you.
The same method works well in getting a conversation going about the gospel. When Paul entered Athens and saw all the idols, he did not launch into a direct rebuke about why idolatry was wrong (Acts 17:16). Instead, we see him finding a point they could agree on and from there leading them in reasoning that idolatry could not be accurate (Acts 17:22-31). So look for opportunities to work in points from the Bible into conversations.
If you find yourself in a conversation with someone about homosexuality, ask simple questions. "How does your religion view your behavior?" "How does your religion deal with the passages in the Bible that say homosexuality is sinful?" How they answer such questions will tell you a lot about whether they are interested in truth and righteousness or not.
You are correct that you should not trust yourself in situations that can become sexually charged. You can find yourself trying to do right but being tempted to sin yourself. "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted" (Galatians 6:1). There is not much opportunity to teach your former girlfriend. If you happen to know her address, send her a note to tell her that you've changed and are following Christ now. Apologize for leading her astray and tell her you hope that one day she finds her way back to Christ. But I think that is about all you can do. Since she expressed in the past a desire to pull you into bed, she would be too dangerous for you to try teaching. If she ever does ask you about Christ, find one of the women at church to go and talk to her.
In regards to this other girl, why be ashamed that you have standards to live up to? You want to talk to her about Christ, so here is a point you can make about morality and treating women with respect and not as sex objects. There is nothing wrong with admitting that you are human, that you don't trust yourself, and that you don't want to be tempted. Tell her you would love to be with her, but you also want to remain faithful to God. "Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (I Timothy 4:12). Therefore, tell her you will meet her only where there are other people around. If that isn't acceptable to her, then you know she isn't the one for you.