This post is for my Jesus-loving Christian friends out there.
As we mourn the horrific national tragedy in Orlando, I’m holding my breath.
Y’all know what I mean. And y’all know who I mean.
It’s already painful enough to look at the faces of the victims and watch the anguished grief across their family members’ faces.
It’s already hard enough to watch politicians turn this tragedy into an election-season ping-pong match.
It’s already scary enough listening to pundits discuss whether or not we need to re-evaluate an our constitutional right to privacy.
Now, I’m holding my breath as Christians take to social media. And I’m praying, too. I’m praying that God will allow the Facebook accounts of stupid, hateful Christians to get hacked and shutdown. Yes, I mean that.
I hate that certain groups of Christians will show up in the public arena saying that they are there in Jesus’ name. Then, they will proceed to spew hate and try to pass it off as Jesus’ truth.
(I know that somebody out there right now wants to see my “salvation card.” Don’t worry. I’ve got it, honey.)
I get you, Holier-Than-Thou, Christian. I know how much you want to speak the “truth in love.”
I’m totally down with speaking the truth in love. But why do we treat truth like a giant sledgehammer and then dispense love like the size of a tiny bandaid?
Here’s what someone from the LGBT community wrote on social media:
“People got hurt. This isn’t the time to condemn them for sin YOU think they’re doing.”
News Flash: LGBT people already know our script. And they aren’t deaf, so they’ve heard us out there beating them with truth in love:
We’ve yelled it at them.
We’ve screamed it at them.
We’ve used it to kick them out of our families.
We’ve written it on our signs and picketed them.
Is it no wonder that this community is eager to shut the door in our faces? We’ve given them no reason to keep it open.
As I was praying this morning for the people who died and their families, God prompted me to stop praying and go read 1 Corinthians 13. Since it came to me out of the blue during prayer, I stopped opened my YouVersion app. I saw Paul’s words through the context of the Orlando tragedy.
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.
3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
As believers, God has endowed us with the revelation of who He is through His Spirit. Not only that, but we’ve been given super-naturally charged spiritual gifts to do great things in Jesus’ name. And we’ve been given the Great Commission to bring the eternity-changing message of Christ to all people.
Yet, Paul points out there just ONE ingredient in our super-natural secret sauce that determines whether or not we will be effective or ineffective.
Notice how often he repeats the qualifier “…but didn’t love others.” That phrase identifies the great eraser of all of the things that we set out to do in Jesus’ name.
Now, let’s not get coy with the word “love.” Don’t get twisted. God defines “love” for us in the next few verses:
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
This is the definition of love. This is hard love, y’all. This is the kind of love that I fail at often with my husband and kids. This is the kind of love that I struggle to show the people that I already know and like.
You know what else occurred to me while reading these verses: These verses also capture HOW we must bring “Tell the Truth in Love. “
Our famous “truth in love” phrase comes from Ephesians 4:15:
“Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies that sound so cleaver they sound like the truth. Instead we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.”
Paul was talking to believers who needed to be wary of false prophets with in the church. “Truth in Love” is a fruit of our discipleship that shows our growing maturity in Christ.
Okay, let’s start putting this together:
First – oh, this is fun: The Greek word “truth” in Ephesians 4:15 and the word “truth” Jesus uses to describe himself in John 14:6 are from the same root word “alethes.”
Now, let’s think about this:
Who is the Truth? Jesus ((John 14:6)
Why did Jesus come? Because God so LOVED the world (John 3:16).
Jesus IS Truth IN Love.
Our opinions are not ‘truth in love.’
Our passionate pleas are not ‘truth in love.’
Our best intentions are most definitely not ‘truth in love.’
Jesus IS TRUTH IN LOVE.
And if we realize that Jesus IS Truth In Love, then we don’t have to worry about love watering down the truth. Love opens the door so that truth can come into dark and desperate places where both are needed.
Jesus came to sacrifice himself for us. He gave up his eternal home in heaven while we were still dirty, perverted, stinky, sin-ridden people (Romans 5:8).
And it was his love for us and obedience to God that took him to the cross. And by Jesus’ sacrifice we are healed and made whole (Isaiah 53:5)
So, out of love, God met our greatest spiritual need: eternal salvation. But, have we gotten so used to being clean and whole that we’ve forgotten who we once were in God’s eyes?
Yes. The answer is YES, doggone it!
We’ve forgotten that we are being saved everyday through sanctification – a fancy word for God’s continual work in us (Galatians 2:20, 2 Peter 3:18). Let’s not forget that God knows the crap that we’ve still got floating in our hearts, minds and lives, friends. Yet, as we grow in maturity, our ability to speak the Truth In Love, to show Jesus in our hearts, minds and lives grows every day, too.
And that becomes evident in our speech, our interactions and our ability to connect with people of all races, ages, cultures and yes, sexual identities.
But, Barb “they” don’t listen to us.
So, that’s where verse 7 comes in: Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Unfortunately, the LGBTQ community isn’t going to be open to us for a long time. Why?
Because they don’t trust us. They don’t like us. They are afraid of us. Many hate us. And we’ve earned every single bit of it. So, we will keep bringing the Truth In Love for as long as it takes. We’ve caused a lot of pain and we’ve broken a lot of trust.
Remember, once upon a time, we treated God the same way. He didn’t give up on us. I don’t know about you, but I’m so thankful that God didn’t abandon me when I refused Him.
His condemnation didn’t bring me to the cross. It was His love that drew me to the cross. (Romans 2:4)
Friend, I know that you are uncomfortable. The “what-if’s” are closing in:
What if other Christians judge me for having someone from the LGBTQ community over to dinner? Will my friends wonder if I’m still a committed Christian?
If I’m hanging out with someone who believes differently from me, am I slack on my faith if I don’t do a full gospel presentation and altar call before dessert?
How can I know if my friends are truly committed to Christ if I see them hanging out with Muslim people or LGBTQ people?
So here are three words to remember: Live like Jesus.
Check this out:
Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.) -Mark 2:15
So, all of the things that we’re worried about, Jesus did them. And he wasn’t worried about what other people thought. Also, notice how MANY people that we avoid were attracted to Jesus. Hmmm…
Jesus came to our sorry, pitiful, fallen world and he became Truth In Love for us.
For the people that we’re afraid of.
For the people that make us uncomfortable.
For the people who live differently that us.
Jesus didn’t shy away from people who needed love, not condemnation. He never shied away rom the truth.
But he always won people with love.
Thanks for reading,