Friday, December 02, 2011

Speaking the Truth, in Love, of Course

As long as we're kicking the concept around, let me just say a few true things in love—things that ought to be said.

Sometimes, love—whether for a person, an idea, or for God himself—demands that we say things that we assume people don't really want to hear. Depending on the person (and how we say it), we may find that we're right. But how we go about saying the things that need to be said gets a bit tricky. We've got to grapple with all sorts of factors—a list that I just deleted from this post, because they're not really my point.

Bottom line: This gets messy. We face unavoidable judgment calls, often contingent more on wisdom and prudence than exegetical clarity. We probably tend to speak too aggressively and abrasively when we're wrestling over a public issue with minimal relationship. And we probably speak too privately when we sense a stronger relationship and some hope for incremental influence. No doubt you can imagine the tendencies of other scenarios.

All that to say this: If anyone ever writes a history of the sort of ideas and people we've discussed here over the past few years (and I'm not suggesting someone should), I hope that person gets the fact that the people who changed the game weren't the people in key positions of influence. Rather, it was people like D.M. and B.B. and A.B. and a few others who put their names (and necks) on the line by telling the emperor his attire fell a few articles of clothing short of afternoon dress.

Those guys (and that's not to exclude some ladies) proved that the dog might bite, but the wound heals. Maybe the dog runs you out of the neighborhood, but you wind up a couple streets over and realize it actually wasn't such a great neighborhood after all. (The new neighborhood may not be so hot either, but hey, it has are fewer ferocious dogs.) Sometimes you stare down a dog and you actually see it's not a pit bull but a paper tiger. Then you realize that its bite is really just a paper cut.

Newt Gingrich tells the story of how Pope John Paul II visited Communist-dominated Poland in 1979. He was greeted by immense throngs of people at every stop. Eventually, the people looked around at each other and said, "You know what. There's more of us than there are of them."

So once those guys started writing and SI opened for business, it didn't take the rest of us long to figure out there were more of "us" than there were of "them." Look at all the non-change change effected by the non-leader leaders in the non-movement movement over the past couple years. It happened for a reason. I simply believe market forces are that reason—not the non-leading leadership.

[Let me just say, we should not blame the non-leading leaders too much for not leading the revolution or for not exposing other non-leading leaders for their hypocrisy and reprehensible behavior. Many of them are doing outstanding work related to the missions of the ministries that they actually do lead. Revolutionary work is almost always counterproductive to the mission of a para-church. Incidentally, the guys whose initials appear above—the leading leaders—all happen to be pastors.]

So maybe petitions as a mechanism for change are a good idea, and maybe they aren't. I read the con side's arguments and they really do resonate. I read the other side's, and I'm really glad that truth has found a voice. Those among us who've been obnoxious and/or abrasive and/or self-aggrandizing and/or [your accusation] in the forms of confrontation we've chosen will one day give account. I'm quite sure I will.

I can tell you what I believe: I'd rather give account for pursuing the proclamation of truth in love and falling short of perfect love, than for knowing truth and not speaking it. It was not so long ago that a certain dank, putrid serenity rested in our air, so we all tried to breathe through our mouths. I'm grateful for those guys who loved what ought to be and spoke the truth. It's been a breath of fresh air.

The weapons of our warfare are not silence.


David said...

Glad for the fresh air God gives. His wisdom is above ours, crushing to our pride as he uses the weak and foolish, justified by its children, and seen in a harvest of righteousness sown in peace by those who make peace.

And that's a good closing line for us all to hear. Speak. Do it in love but by all righteous means speak.

Brandon C said...

Indeed, the business of confrontation is a slippery, albeit necessary one. Maybe it's because I have limited experience with it that I've done such a poor job. And yet, despite the potential hazards of broken or altered relationships, it's worth the risk in God's economy (Matt 18).

Ben said...

Well, had I read a couple more tabs first, I could have saved myself some time and just posted, What he said.