Surprise! Recent national events have, again, demonstrated that the Christian worldview is not held by everyone (sarcasm intended). This is not a new thing in history. Often, disciples of Jesus have been the minority throughout history. Many Christians today struggle with how they take their faith to their workplace or classroom. In fact, it is a timeless question addressed by Jesus (Matthew 5:13-16), and asked in modern times by Francis Schaeffer, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Charles Colson- How do Christians live in the midst of a culture that is increasingly hostile to orthodox Christian beliefs and disciples of Jesus?
Whatever the specific answer is disciples need to be reminded of a general principle. We need to aim for a biblical balance between the often seen two extremes of loving people and hiding the truth and speaking the truth without wisdom and love. As Paul states, we need to be “speaking the truth with love” (Ephesians 4:15).
I struggle through this and feel that it can be helpful to be mindful, if I could adapt a phrase for the sake of analogy, “Ready, Aim, Misfire” which describes what happens when we do not speak the truth in love. I think that some disciples may be guilty of doing this, including me.
Many times we can be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within us and excel at providing a Christian apology for our beliefs. We stand for truth and often times we may do that well. We are passionate about being ready to stand and speak for the truth. We may aim rightly most of the time and be accurate in our interpretation of God’s Word. However, our struggle seems to be concerned with the application of our interpretation. We misfire the truth and we fail to make the impact we truly desire. A “misfire” is basically when an expected explosion from the barrel of a gun fails to occur.
A misfire can occur regardless of the quality of the gun or the skill of the marksman. Our good intentions can become irrelevant because we ignore the manner in which the truth is communicated. The truth will offend. It doesn’t need our help. Our passion and spoken truth must be coupled with love. Too often while fighting against the darkness we do not do enough to go out of our way to rescue those in the darkness.
On the other hand, we must realize that even truth spoken in love will still offend. We must have a clear conscience and repeat what Martin Luther said years ago: “Here I stand, I can do no other.” Let us stand for the truth with a loving and compassionate spirit. We must remember that speaking the truth with no love leads to a certain form of legalism. Loving people without speaking truth is another form of theological liberalism and is, in fact, no love at all.