Speaking the Truth in Love
Our pastoral staff communicated two messages to us over the past week that have been significantly impactful. The first is Ben Condray’s blog from last week which can be found here. The second is the excellent sermon from Chris Ransbottom this past Sunday, which can be found here. Both convey the message that we have the opportunity to speak the truth in love to our culture. The most common question that has come out of these admonishments is, “How do we do that well?” I want to take this week and make a few comments on that question.
Most of the time, our opportunity is to speak to individual people, not the masses. Therefore, it is crucial to understand where other people come from on the controversial issues of our day. People usually respond to their own felt needs. Chris made this point in his sermon on Sunday, and because many people have deeply felt needs, if we tend to “just tell them the truth,” most will see their experience (and therefore themselves) as being minimized. Think about how you would like someone else to challenge your point of view on an issue you felt strongly about. It is usually best to understand why someone else takes the position they do. Caring about the “why” of the other person begins to build the foundation of some type of relationship. Without a relationship, most people will not hear (or care) about you sharing biblical truth on a difficult issue. Because of this felt need, people tend to respond with a lot of emotion. These are not interesting intellectual debates; they are usually personal in nature or have to do with other friends or family they care deeply about. On the one hand, don’t let the emotion scare you away from the conversation, but also know that the more emotion, the more personal this issue (usually) is to the person.
Also, here is a warning if the other person is responding with a lot of emotion, it is not helpful to “have more emotion” or “be more upset” in trying to communicate a message. Usually, during this approach, we are operating out of fear, and the Lord invites us to a place where His love replaces our fear, and we operate out of that love for the Lord and other people.
I’ll close with three things we can remember:
- Remember, we are living in Babylon, but have no fear because Christianity was born in a secular Roman culture that was much more immoral than where America is right now – and it thrived.
- Remember, God is Holy and in charge of the future. Our job is to be faithful. Sometimes faithfulness leads to happiness; sometimes, faithfulness leads to death. God invites us to an eternal view.
- Remember, the Truth is to be proclaimed and lived out; people are made to be loved.