I’ve always struggled a bit with my temper.
OK…scratch that…I have always struggled with getting angry ENTIRELY too quickly. Just ask my wife…my kids…people who have served along side me in ministry…people in traffic…
Let me just be real for a moment…more often than not, my fuse was (and sometimes still is) shorter than the line to the men’s restroom at a Backstreet Boys concert.
KINGDOM JUSTICE WARRIOR!
A number of years ago, I turned my anger toward a new subject…politics and social engagement. I became the Peter Griffin (e.g. You know what really grinds my gears?) of the Christian world. I told myself that I was fighting the good fight for the good of the Kingdom of God. I was convinced that all I was doing was telling the truth, and that people’s problem wasn’t with me, but with the truth.
I used this very blog to blast off “truth bombs” toward the unsuspecting and godless culture that surrounded me. I fired them off faster than Robin Williams ad-libbing on the set of…well…any movie he was a part of. I was kicking butt and taking names.
Or so I thought.
What I really was, was a self-righteous blow-hard who put on my self-proclaimed “Kingdom Justice Warrior” cape and masqueraded around as a guy who “had it all together”.
Clearly, this wasn’t and isn’t a good thing, and has been something I have had to work towards bettering myself in over the years. And, I’d like to think I’m getting better. But, it’s been a long hard road fraught with many casualties.
A LOOK IN THE MIRROR
I have spent the last several months (and maybe close to a year) of doing some serious introspection. I have been trying to take a deep hard look at who I was, and how that aligned with what I see about Jesus and his engagement with the unbelieving world in His time on this earth.
And they didn’t align.
I was the angry Christian that the unbelieving world points their finger at and says, “See that guy? Why would I want to be like him…like the Church? They’re just a bunch of angry blow hards trying to tell me how wrong I am and point out how good they are. Hypocrites.”
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.1 Corinthians 13:1 ESV
Not only did I look in the mirror, that is Jesus, and not like what I saw…but I also looked in the mirror, that is 1 Corinthians 13, and I realized just how ugly I had become. How unlike “love” I had become.
A BETTER WAY
Now, don’t get me wrong…I still firmly believe in the truth and what the Bible teaches. I still hold to what people would classify as conservative view points on various things.
But I am learning that there is a far better way to communicate with people that doesn’t come across as 1 Corinthians 13:1 calls “a clanging cymbal”.
Just this week I have witnessed several things that disturbed me from various folks proclaiming to be Christians that took me back to my old self…and, to be frank, it nauseated me…it frustrated me…and it pained me to watch.
Not just because it reminded me so much of my old self…but because this was the Church I was seeing…the Bride of Christ…behaving in a way that I just don’t think Jesus could be supportive of.
For example…I saw a gentleman claiming to be a believer, and pro-life, calling those who support abortion “lowlife trash”.
Is that even necessary?
What was the point of that anyway?
I reminded the gentleman that before Christ, he too was lowlife trash and that he shouldn’t forget where he came from lest he lose the ability to have compassion on others and speak truth in love.
When these folks get confronted, they want to throw out the whole, “Don’t forget, Jesus made whips and flipped tables too”…and completely ignore the fact that he did that to the religious elite of his day…not the lost and unbelieving world who didn’t know the truth and know any better.
Church…we don’t have to act this way. There is a better way.
10 WAYS TO SPEAK THE TRUTH IN LOVE
1 Corinthians 13 tells us how love looks. And if we want to speak the truth to an unbelieving world, we have to learn how to do it in love. Truth is…a lot of it simply revolves around putting yourself in the other person’s shoes for a minute.
- Be patient with the person. It may take a lot of conversations and relationship building to find common ground with this person. (v4)
- Be kind to the person even if they aren’t being kind to you (v4)
- Be humble. You don’t have it all together, and you were once in the same shoes as the person you’re talking to (v4)
- Don’t be arrogant about what you know. There was a time when you didn’t know it either (v4)
- Take careful consideration for the other person. Everything you say and do is being examined against what you claim to be as a Christian. Even if they get rude and call names, don’t do the same. (v5)
- Speak the truth, but don’t force it down someones throat. You know what it’s like when you feel someone is doing that to you, so don’t do it to another. It isn’t your place to force it on them anyway…God alone will work in them. You just be the voice (v5)
- Don’t become irritated at the person who just isn’t getting it. How many times did God have to deal with you about something before it finally sunk in? (v5)
- Don’t resent the person who isn’t accepting what you have to say. They aren’t rejecting you, they are rejecting truth. It’s not your place to make them accept it. (v5)
- Engage with the person in the truth…and do it in love without affirming or accepting their sin (v6)
- Be persistent, but not overbearing, assume the best of others, have a hope that God is doing a good work in this moment, and endure to the end with this person. (v7)
With all of that in mind, I want to leave you with a quote from one of the staff pastors at my church that he stated during his sermon this past Sunday that really resonated with me, and I think captures the whole posture we need to take with unbelievers…and it is this:
Our assignment isn’t to show people around us how good we are. Our assignment is to show people around us how good God is!Pastor Neal – Journey Church, Ladson SC