Friday, December 22, 2006

Truth & Love, but whose definition?

God amazes me. He promises that when we bring our concerns to Him, with thanksgiving, He will give us incomprehensible peace. This past few days have been filled with what should cause huge distress, but God has given me not only His peace, but most of the time also an ability to focus, to do what needs to be done, and not give in to fear or despair. How He does that, I don’t know. That He does it at all, is both a mystery and a blessing.

Our granddaughter is okay. She is a bit anxious realizing some new truths about life and her own responsibilities, but she seems to be accepting this. Of course her story is longer and more personal (for her) than I have any business telling, but there is progress, and for that we are overwhelmingly grateful.

God never lets me sit too long in one place. This morning He offers a familiar passage and challenges me that my role is moving from that of a child to someone with more responsibility. It is from Ephesians 4:

"And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love."

I remember the days when I chased every new doctrine, usually not to buy into it, but at least to check it out, argue with it (and anyone who believed it), and be sidetracked from the more important things. I don’t think I’m a "perfect man" yet, but I don’t do that anymore.

While I’m not entirely certain where I do fit into this model described above, I know that "speaking the truth in love" is no easy feat. Love cannot be mushy, sentimental, oblivious to sin, but at the same time, speaking the truth cannot be blunt, unfeeling, and more concerned with dogma than with the other person’s needs and situation.

The other challenge to this passage is that it is about the Body of Christ, not the general public. Not that "speaking the truth in love" should be restricted to ourselves only, but I wonder if anything changes when the person before me is not a Christian, is not particularly interested in truth, and interprets love as warm and fuzzy? For me, love is a deep concern about what someone is doing and how their actions affect them (not me), and if they might harm themselves or others by continuing in the direction that they are going.

I’m right in the middle of that. I want to say, "You need to stop _______ because it is hurting you," yet the person I want to say it to thinks love is not only letting other people do whatever they want, but affirming their right to self-destruct—if that is what they want to do.

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