HOW we say something can be as important as WHAT we say. It is not enough that what we say is true. We can say it in a way that is brash or in a way that is kind. Sharing the truth in love does not mean that we share the truth because we love, but that we share truth in the way that love shares truth. Love always hopes. When we share what is true we are not rattling off the negative facts like a pessimist. We share the truth with hope.
When we speak of a problem it is not the end of the world (or the nation), it is an opportunity for a solution. Before you call me an optimist, neither optimism nor pessimism is Christian. To hope is Christian. Without biblical hope, all we are left with is the world’s philosophies of optimism or pessimism based on our personal preference. Truth carries a substance that is otherworldly. It is the reality of heaven infused in our very words. It is the power to release hope where there was fear. It is the power to give life where there was death. It is the power to give freedom where there was bondage.
Love does not dishonor others. Just because something is true does not mean we can speak it in a manner that brings dishonor. Love always protects. It does not just protect family and friends, but the stranger we have never met that we are talking about on social media. It does not just protect the one whose name we know, but the whole group we may be discussing. It protects celebrities and governing leaders too. I Corinthians 13 is not only how we are to treat those in our inner circle it is how we conduct ourselves in the way of love. A mature believer is one who speaks truth in love (Eph 4). Love is the way truth is shared not merely the reason truth is communicated.
Love is not easily angered nor easily offended. It speaks in such a way as to set people free, not to keep them bound by their wayward ways. It does not point fingers, it shields the one under attack. Not because the one has merited the love, but because Jesus did the same while we were yet sinners. “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Truth is not communicated in offense. Offense is communicated, and the truth becomes secondary.
Politics is not an excuse for negativity, dishonor, anger, offense, or ridicule. While truth can be partisan, love is not. This means that we still have the responsibility to communicate truth in love no matter what the position of the other may be. They are not idiots. They are not imbeciles. It is possible “they” are the ones who see something we need to see. It is possible “they” have never seen what we see and therefore cannot know what we know and think like we think. Most likely “they” are not doing anything to us on purpose. It is important not to assign motives to people. It only serves to maintain the culture of “us” versus “them” when we do that.
Governing how we communicate truth will require that we slow down and listen to ourselves and how we may sound to others. It also necessitates that we listen to how others hear what we are saying. I have found that communicating my ideas to people who do not believe them help me to learn how I sound to them. It matters. If I fail to understand how I sound to others, I cannot do better at letting truth be heard in a way that honors the one listening.
To be continued . . .
Truth and love have a symbiotic relationship. You cannot have one without the other less we confuse truth with facts. You can have true facts without love – in the church this looks like religion. Truth is a Person. Jesus lived is a fact of history. Jesus lives is a truth of eternity. His life is the great message of love. Jesus is the expression to the world that God is love. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, Jesus . . .
Truth, by its very nature, is exclusive of all that is false. Jesus being the way, the truth, and the life, means that all other like claims are false. Jesus doesn’t give life, He is life. He gives Himself. Jesus doesn’t show us the way, He is the way. Jesus is not just a truth teller, He is Truth. Jesus excludes that which is not Jesus from being the truth. Buddha, Vishnu, Mohammed, Zeus, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster are all excluded.
Love, by its very nature, is inclusive – For God so loved the world. . . Continue reading The Relationship of Truth and Love
It is easy to miss our own failures when our eyes are on the failures of others. When we have been wronged, we dwell on every aspect of the injustice. We turn it over in our minds enough to know every nuance of the wrong done to us. We consider how easily we see how they should have behaved. The matter is settled in our minds. We are the intentional victims of the actions of another.
Now we nurse our wounds. Maybe we do so in seclusion, gallantly protecting the wrong doer. Or maybe we enlist the sympathy of our friends to our plight. Misery loves company.
Time passes. Maybe a little, maybe a lot depending on how long our heart takes to soften. Then we forgive the person. We begin to realize they are trapped in their own wounds. Maybe they did not do it intentionally. Maybe they did not realize the extent of their behavior.
This process goes on, but the whole time it is other focused. We are still the victim. We may even give a cursory acknowledgment of our faults in the past, but today we are the victim. Today they are the perpetrator. We are the one suffering the injury, the insult, the injustice. Continue reading A More Excellent Way
When I first entered the world of blogging I catered to a largely atheistic readership. Most of what I wrote would be considered Christian apologetics. I engaged in long discussions in the comments on my blog with many atheists. In fact, I often had to block Christians because they were being hostile to my atheist friends. I wrote with a mission to influence the worldviews of others, and found my own worldview transforming. I don’t know if I made a difference in the lives of my on-line atheists friends, but they made a difference in mine.
I told them I hoped to help dispel some of the myths Christians believe about them. Below are some of the lessons I learned in the several years of dialog with my atheists friends.
Not all atheists are the same.
Just like each Christian is a unique person with his or her own way of thinking about the world in the larger context of Christianity, atheists have their own beautiful diversity. It would be a mistake to Continue reading The Lessons I Learned From Atheists
It is a myth of epic proportions that relationships work between the right people and fail between the wrong people. Today parents believe they got a bad egg, when their child does not behave. Men and women believe they married the wrong person, when their marriage is in shambles. We have the same thinking when it comes to our pets, we think we got a bad dog when it barks all the time, or chews the furniture.
In reality, no one drew the short straw. Everyone is in the same boat of needing to learn how to have healthy relationships. No one is going to birth a child that knows how to behave. No one is going to have a healthy marriage without learning how. No barking dog is going to bark less unless it is trained to do so.
If you burn everything you cook on your stove, you don’t buy a new stove to fix the problem, you learn how to cook. No one can cook without learning how. Some will learn from trial and error, some from cook books, some from parents or a friend, and some from You Tube. But no one just knows how to cook.
We did not do something wrong by not having been taught. But once we realize we want to cook and enjoy what we make, it is time to make the effort to learn. The myth that relationships work with the right people will keep us from realizing our problem is not a need for the right people, but the right training.
When we are properly armed with the right tools for healthy relationships, Continue reading The Importance of Learning How to Love