“They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are.”
– Matthew 22:15-17
Garry R. Morgan in Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day said fundamental Christians are known more for what they are against, and I shook my head for the thousandth time.
When I debated a Christian friend online on a sin issue, I couldn’t make him say outright that a particular sin was wrong. I couldn’t make him say what he meant, and instead got lost in words that felt as if they were crafted to be careful rather than brave. And when I read several Christian blog posts during Chick-Fil-A Wednesday, I couldn’t believe how some condemned people for standing for free speech and marriage.
A war we can’t avoid is being fought, and the person we crucify is the one who stands for something in a culture where no one stands for anything. We Christians are only known for what we stand against, because that’s how the media paints it to push us against a wall, using words like, “Don’t Judge me,” to duct tape our mouths. Jesus doesn’t need to be made to seem more accessible. He doesn’t need a fancy public relations team. His Word is enough, but love without truth is just a hippy smoking pot.
Truth without love is a baseball bat slamming into your windshield. Those jagged cracks are the damages that were done.
“Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” – 2 Corinthians 4:1-3
It’s important for a Christian to stand for something, using concise words. The right words can form good relationships even between a liberal and a conservative or an atheist and a Christian. It’s all about if we first invited the Holy Spirit into the conversation. That’s what happened between a friend and me.
Our friendship was a month old. Each Sunday morning, she told me her story a little at a time; her pain thick like glass, voice trembling as she spoke. We met for coffee two weeks later.
I had an agenda. God had pushed me a long time to meet privately with her and talk about her relationship with Him. The topic would make things awkward and it meant I would have to talk about when I, too, lived in that sin. Because it was at the prompting of the Holy Spirit and I had prayed all week about it, the results from that conversation made me rejoice. In our culture, some don’t see anything wrong with some sins and to correct them in either teaching or in conversation is to offend people. The Christian church is full of sinners, including ourselves. It’s the Christian friends who speak truth in love and it’s the teachings of that church which help to mature a Christian.
Even someone living in sin can make things right with God. He’ll change us. I like C.S. Lewis’ words on this subject:
“I know all about the despair of overcoming chronic temptations. It is not serious provided self-offended petulance, annoyance at breaking records, impatience et cetera doesn’t get the upper hand. No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes are in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one’s temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present to us: it is the very sign of his presence.” – C.S. Lewis, in a letter to Mary Neylan, January 20, 1942
When a Christian is silent, the devil rejoices. We have a responsibility to live like we believe in an authentic and forthright manner. Many a person struggles with sin and have family members and friends who entertain sin in their lives as if it’s normal. They were taught by a culture, even a Christian culture, some sin is okay, while others are not right. Every day that I interact with people I am learning when to speak. When speaking won’t change what they do, I revert to prayer for that person and myself. After all, we have no power to change anyone so we might as well be friendly while holding firm to our beliefs. Love and truth go hand-in-hand. One cannot be present without the other.
Give examples in the Bible (old and new) of when people stood for something when it was unpopular.