SGL: Dealing with Controversial topics

Home groups are a place where a variety of people from diverse backgrounds grow. Those diverse backgrounds mean there will be differences of theology and preferences that will be mixed together for discussion. We always pray for the “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:3). Since we know that Satan is the author of division and confusion (Luke 11:17-18; 1 Cor. 14:43), these differences must be handled with wisdom and patience. You want to be right in what you say and do, but remember the key is the people, not proving that you are right. Consider these principles in dealing with controversial topics.

There are many controversial topics among Christians.

Because the study of God’s Word is almost endless (Ecc. 12:12), there are many controversial topics among Christians.  There would not be so many denominations if there weren’t so many controversies. And the fact that there are so many different denominations and churches proves that we Christians do not handle controversy well. Consequently, expect that there will be controversial topics. In fact, welcome them, but do not let them control the group.

God allows many things to be unknown.

God allows controversial topics, even many things to be unknown. Moses wrote, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deut. 29:29 NKJ) So God allows some things to remain “secret” and known only to God. He wants us to trust Him for those things which are revealed. Our obedience to what is revealed will demonstrate our dependence upon Him and His blessing in time and eternity.  However, trusting Him for the “secret” things also demonstrates that He is in control of what He reveals and that He is sovereign and holy. Hence, we should allow people to have different perspectives and not divide between believers. God keeps some things “secret” to see if His children will remain united in Spirit in the bond of peace, even though we may have a different perspective.  Unity with other believers and dependence upon the Lord are far more important than knowing what has not been revealed.

The issue isn’t being right, but helping a person grow.

You as a home group leader need to study and know your subjects, but the issue is not being right with a participant as much as helping the person grow. I remember as a young pastor, I was far more concerned about being right and “helping the other person see my right view!”  Be right, but be more concerned with helping the person grow.  You do that by showing the person you care for him by listening to him. That affirms him in the relationship. Then as he is willing to listen, show him, from the Word, how you found your answer – from God’s Word. Paul said it best, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15 NKJ)

God has the answer and solution.

You are not God, so you may not have the answers. God is God and He has all the answers and the solutions to the controversies that might arise. Peter said to Jesus, “”Lord, You know all things.” (John 21:17 NKJ)

Some topics may not have good answers.

If you cannot show someone from the Word what the answer is, then it may be best not to discuss the topic. If the person is entrenched in a particular view, do not wrangle over words as Paul said, “But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.” (2 Tim. 2:23 NKJ) Then consider the person more important than his view and seek to discuss the topic outside of the home group meeting. You may have the right answer and being correct is extremely important, but Jesus died on the cross for that person as He did for you. So die to yourself and discern a way to discuss the topic without creating a wall between you both.

Don’t blow off the topic.

Whatever you do, don’t blow off the topic.  Do not act like the topic is not important. Do not act like the answer is simple and everyone should understand your view. Do not make the person look foolish in any way. God does not do that with you as you grow! He provides the biblical answers in Scripture and patiently, by means of the Holy Spirit guides you to the truth. Be like Jesus as Paul wrote, “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 15:5 NKJ) This will take time and energy to demonstrate patience and that you care.

Be considerate of people with different views.

As has been stated many times, be considerate of the people with different views. Jesus died for them. What can you do for them to help them see the truth (that is, if you in fact HAVE the truth!). The person may be ensnared and God is testing you to determine what kind of shepherd you have become and how you are growing. Consider what Paul wrote,

24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. (2 Tim. 2:24-26 NKJ)

Whatever you do, follow Paul’s mandate, “Be patient with all men.” (1 Thes. 5:14)

God is completely patient with all of us. He transforms us into new creatures at the moment of salvation (2 Cor. 5:17), however, the experiential spiritual growth is a slow process. God is merciful in how we grow. He is ever gracious when we struggle with difficult questions like, “How can a loving God allow suffering?”  The home group leader needs to be patient and merciful to those in his group who are also growing.

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