Archive for the ‘truth’ Category

Speaking the Truth in Love.

September 4, 2015

That’s a phrase we hear often. Speaking the truth in love. Maybe it’s just me but whenever I hear someone say that, they almost never (in my estimation) are truly speaking out of love.  Or if it is love, it is an abstract sort of love. “Because I love humankind, I’m saying this…” “Because I love my country, I’m saying this….”.

I’m not suggesting we can’t speak abstractly. But on the other hand, let’s not kid ourselves about the difference between that sort of abstract love and God’s love. We are of course very imperfect in the ways we embody God’s love. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have some self awareness about what we are doing, or not doing.

If I make a pronouncement that I think is speaking the truth in love, I need to be careful. I may be treating those to whom I am speaking as stereotypes or caricatures and not as real people. Anytime I start speaking about or to “the gays”, “the Republicans”, “the Muslims”, “the Christians” or any other group, it is impossible not to speak to stereotypes. At least for me that is the case. Additionally if I feel the need to speak the truth in love to someone whom I have just met I am treating that person as a stereotype and not as an actual person.  And I have to ask myself, am I really speaking out of love?

It is, I suppose, love of a sort. It is a love that says, I know better than you and because I “love” you, I want to be sure your behavior/thoughts/actions are correct. It’s a top down sort of love. There is judgment in that statement, whether intended or not. It is a love that often doesn’t do a very good job is listening, truly listening to others.

It is better to speak out of a humble, self giving love, you know, more like Jesus. When Jesus speaks to the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-31), he speaks tough words, but he speaks them out of love and he speaks them to an individual. Jesus does speak hard words to groups of people, but they are groups he is in ongoing dialog with.

I’m not sure that any one of us can truly speak the truth in love unless we are in an actual relationship with the other person. My sense is that speaking the truth in love cannot be spoken by one person to a group. Speaking the truth in love can happen within a group but not to a group. I can speak the truth in love to my church because I know it. If I try to speak the truth in love to your church, I’d better be careful and do some serious thinking about my motives, I may not be as loving as I think I am. I may just want to tell people what to do and how to behave, thinking that I have the corner on truth.

Truth for Christians is not a set of behaviors. It is not a set of rules. It is not judgmental. Truth for Christians is a person, Jesus.  Before we begin to “speak the truth in love”, perhaps we ought to ask ourselves, is it true, true like Jesus?

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Who Wins?

June 29, 2015

It is not unusual where I live to see “love wins” decals on cars.love-wins-facebook-cover-2-other

Yesterday I saw a “truth wins” decal.

truewins

We talk a lot about winning. Think for a moment how often we frame things in terms of winner and losers.

Why is winning so important?  What do you think?

Does this really need to be a competition?

As a Christian, I don’t think there is a competition.

For Christians truth is a person.* In one of the great ironic passages of the Bible, Pilate looks at Jesus and asks him, “What is truth?”. Poor, clueless Pilate has no idea.

But equally for Christians, love is also a person.

As John tells us,  God is love.

The Triune God is love. The Triune God is truth.  Love and truth are not in competition.  Love and truth are both located within the one true God.  Love and truth are the expression, the result of the trinitarian relationship. And they are gifts of the one true God- to us, for us, with us.

To talk about who wins is to miss the point.

When we talk about truth and love we are talking about what is.

We are talking about what has been.

We are talking about what will be.

When we talk about truth and love we are talking about God.

Can you and I be mistaken about what truth or love is? Of course. And we are mistaken frequently. However our failing, our mistakes, our errors do not change the what truth and love are – in and within and as God.

Part of growing in truth and love is recognizing that our concepts of truth and love are small and shallow. Our ideas of truth and love are shaped by the world we live in, our families, our societies, our experiences. Our ideas  of truth and love are flawed and less than God’s manifestation of them.

Sometimes, even often, knowing the truth is hard.

Sometimes, even often, love is hard.

Which may be why in God truth and love are intertwined and inseparable. Who could stand to know truth without also knowing love? What would love be without truth?

We are given glimpses and sightings. Moments beyond words where we know truth and love.

That is our experience with God, and so  that ought to be our experience with each other. Truth and love intertwined and inseparable.

 

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.

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