Study Guide Talk the Walk: How to Be Right Without Being Insufferable
Chapter 1: The Trail of Tears What are the dangers of seeing unbelievers as the enemy? Why do some unbelievers see Christians as angry, judgmental, and condemning? Do they have a point? Why are tears of compassion so important in our communication? What is the balance between truth and compassion?
Chapter 2: The Gift of Truth Why do you agree or disagree with “we are right and they are wrong”? Are there any cautions here? What is the danger in “truth is whatever you want it to be”? In talking about God’s love, how have you watered it down or made it conditional by adding a “kicker”? Unpack this principle: “Love in response to goodness is not love; it is reward.” What does this mean to you? Why are you attracted to being a “fixer”?
Chapter 3: The Sound of Silence Why is keeping quiet so hard? What are the benefits of doing so? How do you know when to speak and when not to speak the truth? In what ways is this true (and give some personal examples): “The truth we have is precious, dangerous, and explosively powerful in a way it can heal or hurt”?
Why is permission to speak so important? How does self-interest stand in the way of speaking truth?
Chapter 4: Watered-Down Wine How bad to do you “want to be liked, to have your views affirmed, and to be ‘cool’”? What are you willing to sacrifice to make that happen? How is real truth practical? In what ways can real truth be therapeutic, cutting before it heals? What is so devastating and destructive about real truth when it’s compromised? What causes people to walk away from real truth?
Chapter 5: When Truth Gets Personal How can Christians “smell like Jesus”? What does it mean to “lead with Jesus and let the devil take the hindmost”? When you share Jesus’s love, how is this true: “I do not have a theology to share but a friend to meet”? How does this make you feel: “Jesus does the hugging, and he hugs some really weird, needy, and sinful people who do not appear to be getting better”? What is the implication for you? What does it mean to you that Jesus holds the “maintenance contract”?
Chapter 6: When Being Right Isn’t Nearly Enough How can being right be dangerous for the Christian? Aren’t we supposed to be right? Unpack this: “Being Christian has very little to do with getting doctrinal propositions right.” Do you agree or disagree, and why? What does self-righteousness look like? Is it possible to be right without being self-righteous? Are you (or someone you know) guilty of this: “Believers have a tendency to underline [in Scripture] only what feeds their own proclivities, affirms their righteousness, and confirms their theological particulars.” How does this impair our sharing of the gospel?
Chapter 7: You Too? What does it mean to “have the mind of Christ”? How can we increase our identification with “outsiders”? In what ways is the Christian’s identification with others “from weakness with weakness”? What happens if we freely admit our need, fear, weakness, and anxiety to others? Give a personal example. How is the Christian’s doubt different from and the same as the unbeliever’s doubt? What is the impact of our honest identification in this area?
Chapter 8: Love Happens How can a Christian love other Christians (no mean task)? How
can a Christian love those who would rather we just left them alone? What do both look like? Do you agree or disagree with this, and why: “Believers too often have made love an impossible and unreachable standard of the Christian walk. Christians faked love for so long that, most of the time, they do not even know what it is anymore.” How is love often surprising? In what way is love an “inside job”? What does this mean to you, “Love is Jesus”?
Chapter 9: Shock and Awe What is meant by “shock and awe”? How does that create questions in the minds of unbelievers? What can happen when we, as Christians, stop lying, and confess our sin and struggle instead? Why is it not a sin to be human and admit it? How are mercy, forgiveness, acceptance, and grace gifts to the world? Where are some of the unexpected places you can show up?
Chapter 10: Nobody’s Mother How does religion make us “weird”? What are some of the possible dangers (to them and to us) when we assign ourselves “mothers” to the world? How does this happen and why: “Christian compassion and concern often degenerates into moralism, manipulation, and abuse
of power”? Often we, as Christians, are guilty of majoring in minors. What are some of those “minors”? What should we focus on instead? Is it our responsibility, as Christians, to call out what’s wrong in the world? Why or why not? Where is the “line”?
Chapter 11: Roaring Lambs Why is it important that Christians be both “dangerous” and “relevant”? What are we afraid of? Why do we want to hide? What does this mean: “We will be dangerous when love and freedom define us”? How does God’s sovereignty lead to security, freedom, and grace for us? How do the facts—we don’t have anything to protect or lose or promote, we don’t have to be right, we don’t have to pretend to be good, and we don’t have to hide—free us up to be bold?
Chapter 12: Hey, Let’s Be Careful Out There! Why is speaking truth to people who don’t want to hear it so hard? What’s so bad about an angry Christian, looking for an argument or a fight? How is shouting our truth a sign of insecurity? What does it mean to “compromise truth,” and why is that so destructive? “Christians should always be saying—with their words and actions—that if anybody wants to be forgiven, loved, and
accepted, they can be.” How and why do we often fall short or get off track? What does it mean to “just show up”?
Chapter 13: The Rest of the Story Are there times when we should be insufferable, “losing friends and irritating people”? Give an example. How do love and truth go hand-in-hand? What does it mean to “go out into all the world”? What are the challenges in doing so? How does it help to remember who God is, who you are, and who they are? “Once we believers demonize ‘them’ and fail to remember their sleepless nights, the guilt that haunts them, and the pain they experience, the hammer becomes our weapon of choice.” How is a hammer a dangerous weapon in this respect? How is knowing the “end of the story” (when we party in heaven!) ahead of time helpful and encouraging?