Christianity 201

May 13, 2020

Conversations Motivated by Love

We share devotional content here across a wide spectrum of Christian thought. Today’s thoughts are from Chad Reisig, an Adventist pastor to a absolutely beautiful high school in Milo, Oregon with its own farm, pond and covered bridge.  Because his posts are shorter, we’re giving you a double-feature today, but both are centered on the word talk. Click the individual headers below to read the articles at source.

Idle Talk

And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak.

Matthew 12:36 (NLT)

As we discussed in our devotional a few days ago, the perception of the outside world when it comes to the majority of Christians is that they are all talk, but rarely do anything to benefit the community that surrounds them. To summarize that particular devotional, that’s bad.

However, there is a different type of idle talk. This idle talk happens in our churches, schools, workplaces and homes way too often as well. What is “idle talk?” Well, to put it simply, it is like a car at a stop sign. It may make noise, because the engine is running, but it doesn’t go anywhere or produce any forward momentum.

Here, Jesus is using the term idle talk as a synonym for two things: Saying we will do something, then not doing it; and complaining. It’s the latter one I want to address today.

Complainers make a lot of noise, but never seek to resolve the situation they are complaining about. They, therefore, remain at the stop sign. In our current day and age, we tend to call it “venting.” At the end of the tirade, we often say something like “Well, I feel better.” However, nothing is accomplished other than feelings are hurt, others are now upset, (usually at the target of the complaining) and the situation that caused the complaining is not resolved. It’s all idle talk.

So, what does Jesus say about such talk? “You must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak.” That one stings a bit!

So, what must we do to get back on track with how God asks us to communicate? As we’ve seen previously, everything we do must be motivated by love. Therefore, we need to be able to have conversations with people within our schools, churches, homes, and workplace because we love those God has placed in our lives. We need to speak to those that we feel the need to vent about rather than complaining to others about them or questioning their motives, intellect, or wisdom. We need to have hard conversations – not shouting matches, but real conversations that lead to understanding, even if there is still disagreement.

Stop Talking

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.

Romans 12:9 (NLT)

I was at a conference not too long ago. It was a gathering of teachers and pastors. The topic: how to get the churches and the school united in our mission, the Great Commission. It was a good conference, with good materials, and good presentations. But one thing really stood out to me.

One of the conference leaders put an ad out on Craigslist asking for people from the greater Portland area to come and speak to the conference attendees, on behalf of their peer group, about their perceptions of Christians. There were three that responded in earnest. One was a secular Jew with a radio show in Portland. Another came representing the LGBTQ community. The third was a young woman who grew up in a religious home where she was beaten over the head (figuratively speaking) with the Bible on a regular basis.

What they shared really impacted the entirety of the conference goers. But, it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise. They all stated generally the same thing: Christians are really good at talking about love, but horrible at actually demonstrating that love to their communities. Ouch!

I believe that Paul’s inspired verse for us today shows that the early church was wrestling with this same concept a couple of thousand years ago. We can’t just say we love others. We have to do it. There are enough fakers in the world. As Christians, it pains me to think that we’ve been lumped into that category.

So, what do we do? We follow what the Scriptures say. Get out and love people.

In a practical sense, it means leaving the safe confines of our church buildings and making friends with people where they are: in the alleyways, in our neighborhoods, in the part of town we never dare enter because things are “different” there. Get out and serve.

May 11, 2014

With Jesus, Class Is Always in Session


Time once again to pay a visit to veteran Christian musician and author John Fischer. This appeared at his blog, The Catch, under the title Walking and Talking.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

This is discipleship, pure and simple. This is what makes discipleship, according to Jesus, simply brilliant. Jesus wants us to personally pass on everything He has taught (and is teaching) us so that we are always teaching what we know. The curriculum is always being developed, so it is always fresh.

What makes teaching difficult is when you are expected to teach what you don’t know to someone unfamiliar. That’s when we err by faking it – by acting like we know more than we really know, and if we’re with people we don’t know very well, our ignorance can go undetected. Whereas teaching someone you know is much more revealing. You can’t fake it with your wife or your own kids.

(Ask any pastor to tell you about their toughest audience, and if they don’t say their wife and kids I would wonder if they are telling you the truth.)

Teaching is not about imparting information; it’s about imparting a life. I keep wanting to do the former. Give me a curriculum and an appointed time to teach it and I can do that, but tell me you want me to impart what I know to someone as we walk and talk, and that is something else entirely. Yet that is the method Jesus used. They walked and they talked.

  • The disciples left Jesus at Jacob’s well and went into town for food, only to find Him talking with a Samaritan woman when they returned, and upon her departure back to town, Jesus proceeded to teach the disciples all about the great harvest of souls He was predicting.
  • They passed by a fig tree and Jesus taught the disciples about bearing fruit.
  • They passed by a vineyard, and Jesus taught them about abiding in Him.
  • They faced a storm at sea and Jesus taught them about faith.

Class was always in session because the lessons were all from and about life.

If we can teach someone at an appointed time and place, but not as we walk and talk, the question must be asked as to how well this teaching has been integrated into our own lives. Compare what you teach out of a book to what you impart over dinner, and ask yourself which experience of learning is most likely to stick.

I have always struggled over this with my own kids. The Old Testament tells me I have a responsibility to teach my kids and train them in righteousness, but I’ve never been able to get them to show up for Discipleship 101 taught by Dad. In fact, that’s when they seem the least teachable – when I’m trying to teach them! No, they show up for life, though, and that’s what it’s all about.

Lord, teach us to walk alongside and talk deeply with, not just disseminate information. Anyone can do that. Teach us to disciple by being disciples. Teach us to impart how to live by living openly. Not perfectly, but openly.

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