Noise fills the air but nothing makes sense. Sometimes we focus on our message and tune out others. At other times we fit their words into our expectation of what they mean. Often we simply wait for them to be quiet so we can continue our message. Just because two people are talking together, it doesn’t mean they are in the same conversation.
I’ve been in arguments where the person insisted that I meant something I did not say. They twisted my words to fit their preconception. I left those arguments.
Spiritual conversations often become confusing because two people are talking but not communicating. Sometimes they assign different meanings to the same words. At other times they ignore what is being said because it doesn’t fit their view of the scripture.
This happened often in the life of Jesus. Consider these conversations from the gospel of John:
- John 3: Jesus discusses the spiritual birth while Nicodemus is thinking of the impossibility of physical rebirth. In time Nicodemus comes to understand the words of Jesus.
- John 4: Jesus discusses spiritual nourishment while the woman at the well is focused on her physical needs. Eventually she and Jesus are talking about the same topic.
- John 6: Jesus teaches the multitude about the bread of life and the crowd is focused on bread for their stomach. Eventually some get frustrated and quit following Jesus.
- There are numerous instances of the disciples being confused about the sayings of Jesus or focusing on earthly things and worldly power instead of spiritual things. In time they were in the same conversation with Jesus.
- Ultimately the gospel of John is a conversation taking people from a view that Jesus is a good man and a great teacher to seeing Him as the Son of God and the true light and life for humanity.
Knowing this about human nature, it should not surprise us that we can have confusing conversations. This should encourage us to be more humble and patient with others. If people talking to Jesus had a hard time understanding spiritual things, we will probably have similar challenges.
We should not be easily frustrated when teaching the gospel to someone who has no background with the Bible, Jesus, or spiritual things and they don’t grasp what we are saying. Some people see the truth immediately as it shines bright in the darkness of their ignorance. Others are confused by false teaching and worldliness which clouds their minds which must be un-learned before they can receive the truth. 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 reminds us that the gospel can be covered (veiled) to the lost because of the work of error. Be patient and help the person clear the rubble of confusion and error to uncover the truth.
Relationships with Other Christians
1 Corinthians 2:14-16 tells us that non-Christians will not understand the spiritual things of God immediately and may think it is foolish. New Christians who have immature Bible knowledge will not immediately understand spiritual principles and we must be patient as they grow in understanding. (Ephesians 1:15-18).
When a church has people who are spiritually minded and some who are focused on worldly things, there will be confusion, division, and strife (1 Corinthians 3:1-4). Each Christian should strive to grow in knowledge and maturity into the fullness of Christ, Ephesians 4:12-14 to prevent such problems and deal appropriately with those who though ignorance or arrogance are not acting with the mind of Christ.
We must also be patient with ourselves. As we grow in the knowledge of God and His will, we may struggle with our immature understanding and the truth of God’s word. We must trust God and continue to study and grow. We will not learn everything at once but it creates a lifetime of joy as we “grow in the grace and knowledge” of God’s will. Spend time with God’s word daily even if you don’t always grasp what you are reading. It may be that, like the apostles, woman at the well, and disciples of Jesus, you are missing what God is saying. If you continue the conversation you will eventually understand what is being said.