(Part 7 of 10 from the article, “Through the Eyes of Heaven: Does ‘Talking It Through to Find Peace’ bring Shalom?”) By Jim Wilder and Ed Khouri

Looking back over the previous blogs, it is clear we have been misapplying what the Bible says. In a sense, we have been creating fog around the topic.

Most small groups operating by any of these misdirected methods are a little murky about grace. They assume the methods they’ve been using are actually biblical. It’s easy to find Bible verses to justify this approach. Examples include:

  • “Comfort one another” (1 Thess 4:18)
  • “Weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:15)
  • “Comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.” (1 Thess 5:14)

Paul recognized these dynamics as essential for Christians as they interacted. On the surface, there is absolutely nothing wrong with them. The problem is not with these verses but with two false assumptions that underlie their use in small groups. There are two main problems to consider:

First, a careful reading indicates that Paul’s letters typically begin with statements affirming the reality of God’s work in our lives and the new identity we have In Christ. The verses cited above follow Paul’s reassurance to Christians that they are indeed new people in Christ, redeemed and connected by God. In other words, instructions are directed to people who recognize their true identity in Christ — not those who look at one another through distorted, earthly eyes.

Paul’s writing establishes a clear, ordered pattern: connection with God, His work in our lives, and identity provide a proper foundation for instructions on how to relate when together. Groups that attempt to “talk things through” to “find peace” are applying Paul’s commands out of order! These approaches use Paul’s words without acknowledging God’s work and identity.

Second, “talking things through” fails to recognize our God-given identity. Both approaches assume that the most important things about us are pain, problems, difficulties in life, and the need to find peace through others. Here we go again. It is as if we are looking at — and relating to — distortions of ourselves and others as accurate representations of our identity. The result, the way we see our needs — and the needs of others — is warped.

Our next blog is “Grace as a Foundation for Peace in Your Small Group” — the eighth in our series of excerpts from the article, “Through the Eyes of Heaven: Does ‘Talking It Through to Find Peace’ bring Shalom?” By Jim Wilder and Ed Khouri.


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