Contend Earnestly: Speaking the Truth in Love and Unicorns

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Speaking the Truth in Love and Unicorns

This title that I used for this post is probably the most overused and abused term today in the church and from those who don't like to cut it straight with people. What people seem to want this to mean is that we need to ride into town on a unicorn, dressed in a white Benny Hinn suit, handing out daisies and speaking softly like a midnight radio DJ. Is this what this means? Does this verse, which is found in Ephesians 4:15, trying to make sure that speak to each other like we are in a library filled with gumdrops and lollipops?

I would doubt it. The reason I think that this is taken out of context and used very wrongly is because people define love by what modern media defines it, instead of how God defines it.

Love would be defined by most people as speaking kindly and looking the other way, no matter what, with someone. Even lie if you have to, but whatever you do, don't tell them what you honestly think about them. Love has become the word that is used more to describe the 14 year old girl that is caught up in gazing into the eyes of the quarterback's dark brown eyes. This, sorry to say, isn't the love that is described in the Bible. That is just lust or puppy love, or whatever the kiddies call it today.

Love in the Bible would be probably best understood as giving or telling someone what they need to have, or need to hear, to build them up to a more godly way of life.

Why do I say this? Because the way we find God's love demonstrated isn't when he created unicorns in the Garden of Eden while Adam was sitting on a heart shaped couch. We find love being demonstrated in the most vile way possible: the cross.

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

Why is this shown to be God's love for us? I mean, God's love was shown by killing his Son in the most brutal way he could find? Yes. The reason is because this is exactly what we needed to happen to bring us from death to life, from sickness to health, from blind to sight. God's demonstration of love is violently different than most would allow in today's modern culture.

We also find Christ, before he was crucified, speaking the truth in love to those around him by not always saying the nicest things in the world, but making sure he spoke as to bring that person to a loving relationship with him. It seems as though Christ would say exactly what that person needed to hear to pierce their heart to the core so that they would understand their need for a Saviour.

Think of this:

He calls Peter Satan

He calls the legalist Pharisees white washed tombs and sons of the devil.

He calls the Israelites an adulterous nation (in other words he calls them a bunch of whores)

So on and so on....

So, this is one way of Christ speaking to people the truth in love. He needed to get their attention. Nice words weren't going to do it. Strong, piercing words needed to take place.

Jesus also shows us that it does matter who you are talking to when you decide how to bring them the truth in love. Some, if you were to call a son of the devil would agree with you and be even more depressed with their condition. So, breaking them down further with sharp words would be very careless.

Jesus shows this in two particular instances that I can see. One of the most glaring is the woman at the well. Jesus seems to be very calm with her and very loving towards her. Although he does still basically call her a whore by asking, "where is your husband?" He does it in a different way than he did it with others. What this does show us is that even if people are down on themselves and having a tough time apart from Christ, we still cannot simply overlook their sin. But the way that Christ handled the woman at the well is vastly different than he spoke to the Pharisees.

The other way that Christ shows the truth in love without screaming at someone is with Judas. This might have been the most piercing words found in the New Testament and is the most overlooked, in my estimation. It is found in Matthew 26:50:

Friend, do what you have come for

In one word, Jesus summarized his time with Judas. Jesus, although he had never done anything against Judas, but Judas had done so much against Jesus, calls him friend. This obviously opened up a damn of emotions in Judas. More than likely Judas did some "soul searching" at this point and saw that Jesus was perfect, did nothing but love Judas, lavish all he could for Judas and it was all summed up in one word: friend. Jesus shows in one word that although he knew all along who the son of perdition was, he still only showed him grace and mercy and truly loved him.

Jesus told Judas exactly what he needed to hear. The problem is that instead of it turning his heart towards Christ, it turned Judas against himself as we find himself killing himself for what he had done. I believe he did it because of one word: friend.

The point is that Jesus knew who he was dealing with. He knew those whom needed a strong word and those whom needed a kind, yet piercing word. But, let's stop this crap of "speak the truth in love" and think that it is describing the morning radio host on Christian radio stations.

May we wake up and try and actually know the audience we are speaking to. Let us speak with the goal of turning people from sin to grace through truly speaking the biblical understanding of truth in love.


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