Tag Archive: truth


rebuke

This week has been a little fighty fighty on the Facebook and i’m not sure why.

i strongly suspect it is linked to the Rugby World Cup that has been happening as touching on that ‘holy grail’ in a country so passionate about the sport definitely touches a nerve. As does most conversation about race.

So in the midst of three days of more ‘taking people on’ than i am typically used to, i had someone post on my wall that he was “troubled by the fact that you have an opinion about everyone and everything” and concerned about something i’d called someone and suggesting i was not being consistent in my beliefs and actions.

Which hurt me a little bit?

WHAT? Brett ‘Fish’ Anderson hurt by something someone said? Well… you know… there’s a difference between ‘Not caring what people think’ and ‘Not caring what people think’.

i think everyone likes to be liked by people. And so when there is a moment of that not happening, it bums us out. Or maybe that’s just me, but there is definitely a moment of: ‘Oh no, someone doesn’t like me’.

When a second person jumped on the first person’s comment to back him up on the fact that i do have rather a lot to say on Facebook and i could be less rude, that didn’t help. [Although we did manage to talk it out and come to a bit more of a happy ending i believe].

WHAT TO DO WITH IT

i’m okay though. i didn’t cry myself to sleep. She may have turned me into a newt, but… i got better! [obscure but brilliant Monty Python reference]

There are a couple of things i feel might be worth mentioning around this, especially for people who constantly challenge and question and wrestle and invite others to do the same: There will be pushback. Not all of that pushback is going to be good or accurate or helpful. But not all of it is going to be bad. Some of it might even be a little bit of both.

So what do you do? Well there is this amazing line in one of Paul’s letters to the Thessalonian church where he talks about ‘Testing the spirits. Holding on to the good and avoiding every kind of evil.’ Which is excellent advice.

Was what was said about me true? Was it totally true or was there any truth in there? If so, pay attention to it, learn and move on. [Maybe thank the person for pointing it out!]

If it’s not true at all, then let it go. i was talking to tbV about it in the car a little later and she reminded me about some things some other people had been saying to me recently which were helpful and true. They helped me to put both of these things in perspective.

INVITE ACCOUNTABILITY CAREFULLY

One thing that was interesting was that both comments on this particular thread came from people i don’t think i’ve had any interaction with for years. Which doesn’t mean what they said was not true. But it does suggest that there is a lack of relationship and so i hold it a little more loosely than when my good buddy Bruce Collins challenged me on a stance i was taking on Facebook a few weeks ago and warned me that he thought i had crossed a line.

You see, i have invited Bruce to speak into my life. i have no doubt that he loves me and he has championed me and encouraged me and cheered when i have done well and loved me so much that when he questions something, it still hurts [who likes to be told they are wrong?] but i know it can be trusted. i won’t necessarily always agree with him either [because we’re different people although we definitely agree on more than we disagree on] but i will listen and really dig deeply into what i said and question it because i know it was spoken in love.

truth

i imagine everyone’s process works differently. But the way it typically works for me is that if someone challenges me i will probably give immediate reaction push-back, but i will go and think about it later and it might take a day or two for me to process and realise, ‘Oh wait, actually they were right’ which means having to go back, tail between my legs and apologise to them and thank them for challenging me. But it happens.

And you don’t have to have good relationship with me to hold me accountable. i expect and invite everyone to hold me accountable for everything i say and do – i realise i live a bit of a public life and so that is completely necessary. But then there are certain people who i love and trust and have no doubt they love and trust me who i have invited to jump in when they see me out of line and bring rebuke and caution and challenge and so i am more likely to listen to them more easily and quickly than someone who is not.

Which makes a lot of sense. Because as i mentioned before, i am speaking/writing/sharing a lot about Race and Reconciliation and Christianity and Relationships and more and some of these topics get pretty heated. It would not be wise to agree with everything said to me in response to conversations had around those topics. But it is good to have some trustworthy people specifically watching my back on these to help keep me in line.

i am so grateful that my pool of people i trust to speak this kind of Truth in Love into my life is so huge. It is not easy being the person who brings the caution/challenge/rebuke as it is not easy being the person who receives it. But it is so crucially important and necessary to ensure a life that is consistent with beliefs, that will hopefully be used to be a part of significant conversation and action.

What has your experience with accountability been? Giving it or receiving it? Who are the people who you have invited to speak Truth in Love when it counts? 

[For some other thoughts on Friendship, click here]

Hm, i really thought God loves you [part I] would go viral…

Godlove

Turns out that maybe that simple thought or Truth or knowledge of that Truth isn’t enough any more.

 

…or maybe we have simply started taking it too much for granted?

…or maybe we always did?

in the midst of gay marriage rights and Jesus feminism and Driscoll plagiarism and a glorious new pope…

in the midst of a world that has gone crazy with school shootings, race-related murders, genocide attempts and rumours of wars…

through the smokescreen of Hollywood comic sequel blockbusters, bad boy/girl singers trying to outdo each other in over-the-top antics both off and on the stage, and increasingly insane amounts of money being thrown at sports stars…

we can be distracted from that simple yet powerful Truth: God loves you.

God.

Loves.

You.

Can you handle the Truth?

We get a hint of it in this passage from the letter to the Philippian church, from chapter 2, where the writer reminds us of just how big a deal it was that Jesus [being God] left the comforts of heaven to become human and in habit our stinky, limited, painful world to walk among us and direct us to the Truth of His Love:

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

And it is in this passage from the letter to the Ephesian church where the writer gives us a greater glimpse of just how big the Love of God is:

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

And finally, in the letter of 1 John, we see these bold and beautiful statements:

1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Don’t skip so quickly to the next bit.

God. Loves. you.

God loves me.

That is so overwhelmingly hugely great and big and amazing and incredible and mind-blowing and we should constantly and consistently be heading back to that thought, that Truth, that essence of our faith [if we have faith in God… if you don’t, well then God loves you as well – He doesn’t wait until you’re clean and doing well and attending church and getting it right before He loves you. This story starts with His Love for you. God loves you now.]

For our good, and His, it is not a thin and shallow do-what-you-want Love, but one that invites us into relationship and calls us to the accompanying commitment, which can look daunting at times [and is, if we’re doing it right!] but also grants us access to living the greatest life imaginable, a life that takes into account all people and not just ourselves.

So take your time on that point, and don’t ever get too familiar with it that you rush over it or casually say it without really being aware of its full meaning.

And when times get tough or doubt sets in or life gets a little overwhelming [as it tends to do at times] or people are mean or unbelief starts to set in… then head back to that safe and comfortable place and be reminded once again, that God loves you!

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2     He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3     he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

[Psalm 23]

1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

[Psalm 121]

17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

[Psalm 34]

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

[John 3.16-17]

 

Godloves

God loves you.

[To read more, continue on to part II]

‘So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.’ [Ephesians 4.11-16]

that is a rather long passage, but i do generally like to give context for a verse i want to use and i felt like this whole passage sums up this part of the message that i want to take from the anonymous email i received a week ago.

so this is the portion of the email i am going to be looking at now:

‘Brett-boy, you need to rethink how you spend your energy.
And here I’m speaking in particular about the humor side of your energy. To take an example: Brett, let’s be honest: your youtube videos suck. Big time. And I don’t even see the purpose in it. Will you really stand before the Jesus one day and when He asks you “So how did you spend your valuable time?” answer “Well, there are these youtube videos I made.”’

this is both a simple concept and a difficult one to get right [perhaps these are all so easy for me to blog about as i have lots of experience in the getting-it-wrong department in days gone by] but the idea mentioned in the Ephesians passage is of ‘speaking the truth in love’ with the intended purpose being that ‘we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ. From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.’

this point seems to almost precede the point of the message. a question one needs to ask when challenging someone else about something is, ‘Am I right? Is this thing, that I am about to speak to that person, the Truth?’ Once I have ascertained that I am speaking Truth to them, it seems to be so very important that I get the ‘in Love’ part of the delivery of my message right, otherwise to some extent the Truth is invalidated. Was it Truthful? Yes. Did I speak it in Love? No, well then the whole message is lost!

truth-in-love-300x270

Why is this so important? Well Jesus has set it out for us so clearly: When asked what the greatest commandment in the law is, ‘Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” [Matthew 22.37-40]

so the end point is always Love. and until i can get that part right, then it might be better for me to hold my tongue. the Ephesians passage reminds us that the intended consequence of speaking the Truth in Love is that the whole body will be built up and so that each person will be able to do the job required of them. this is vital, crucial stuff here.

i really believe that one of the largest travesties of the church for so long has been that those who ‘get the Truth’ and speak it, so often don’t have the Love to accompany it, and so much damage is done. but it goes further than that because i also strongly believe that too often those who ‘get the Love’ part of the Gospel, so often refrain from speaking the Truth. and damage is done both ways. we confuse ‘being Love-filled’ with not challenging people or confronting sin when it needs to happen [but in Love]. we mistake ‘being nice’ with ‘being Loving’ and that too can have terrible consequences.

BRINGING IT BACK TO WHAT IT’S ABOUT

so if my anonymous friend was wanting to do a better thing, how could that have happened?

to me, ‘Brett-boy’ sounds very condescending – that might not have been intended, but simply using ‘Brett’ would have done the trick.

‘let’s be honest – your videos suck’ could have perhaps been a more personal ‘i must be honest, i don’t really think your videos are all that great’ which at least removes some of the sting and personalises the opinion instead of proclaiming a statement of truth.

and i have already spoken a little bit into ‘And I don’t even see the purpose in it’ which could have been posted as a question such as,’I’d be interested to hear the reason behind why you make these videos?’

are any of these hugely malicious things? not at all – but out there in the world, and sadly too often in the church, there are examples that happen all the time that are way more hurtful and display a complete lack of Love and it is those that i am wanting to speak into.

the writer to the Corinthians didn’t seem to think Truth counted all that much [or anything else for that matter] if Love was not a huge part of the message both in word and deed:

‘If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.’ [1 Corinthians 13.1-3]

having hard Truth spoken to you in Love doesn’t always mean it is easy to hear. but it definitely becomes a lot easier to hear and if i walk away from you completely convinced that you Love me, then i am so much more likely to take some more time in considering the words of Truth you have spoken to me, even if i did not receive them well in the moment.

what’s your experience been in hearing hard Truth from people spoken in Love?
and i suppose the more painful question of, is this ringing any bell for you of times when you may have spoken well-meaning Truth but with a lack of the much-needed Love?

[to read on about receiving the rebuke you send click here]

the other day i saw this cartoon that someone had posted on facebook that was pretty funny but involved hitler in a way that i knew would be offensive to a lot of jewish people. so i immediately wrote the girl who had posted it an email [more a friend of a friend than a direct friend] and just before i hit the send key i stopped for a moment, reread what i had written and changed it before sending it…

instead of ‘hey friend, you posted a cartoon that is going to hurt people’ or something like that, i started with some relationship [‘hey friend, long time no chat, how are you doing? what you been up to?’] and then i identified with the cartoon and why she had posted it [i find the cartoon really funny but at the same time i think it may be offensive to some people] and then finished off with more relationship and encouragement [‘continue to rock on – you often send along good twitter fun vibes… much love’]

she responded with:

[“Hey

You’re 100% right. Sometimes I don’t think… There’s a fine line between dark humour and plain darkness. I actually had a funny feeling after logging off and needed to come back on FB to delete it. Then I saw your message. Thanks for the mail, thanks for calling me out and gently pointing it out, I really appreciate it.

You rock on too.”]

and i realised i got that one right… and as a bonus victory, later in the week i decided to keep a certain description [of a friend who wrote for my marriage blog series] out of my intro [that she was someone who had always said she’d never be married] because i thought hey, maybe she wouldn’t want me to share that about her publically [she wrote back saying i totally didn’t need to edit it out, but i still think making sure was the right move when there was any kind of doubt]

so yay for double victories… but boo for the knowledge that there have been many [and probably many, many, i am quite old] times when i have not gotten it right.

and ‘but i meant well’ is not good enough for people i hurt by not being as gentle in my calling out as i was with this person…

Truth is important, but Truth-in-Love should be non-negotiable, as a Jesus follower at the very least. And i think that looking back, there have been times where I have shared Truth and possibly even meant Love but not conveyed it well at all. I have hurt people by being too quick to rush to Truth [or my version of it] and too slow to honour Relationship and for this i am deeply sorry. i don’t even know if i can pull a Zacchaeus and go back and find all the people i have wronged and make things right [and i imagine most of them will not be reading what i write here] just because i don’t have a comprehensive list of who they are. what i can do is learn from the two victories of this week and ensure that i follow a more Truth-in-Love stance as my go-to response as the norm.

however, having said all that, let me finish by saying these two things which make it incredibly more complicated and complex:

[1] there is not enough Truth-in-Love in the church! there is something we mistake as love which is usually born out of a fear of confrontation in any form and so we would rather let our close friends sink in their sin than call them on it, gently in love, and help them become better, stronger people… [Proverbs 27.6 ‘Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.’] Close friends are the ones more likely to be listened to and often i have felt forced to intervene because none of the people who should have been Truthing-in-Love were being good friends… we need to step up more into this.

and [2] there are times [and these must be so carefully discerned] where the person receiving the correction will not feel loved and that doesn’t mean Love has not happened – and there are times when the rebuke must be strong and times when it must be public… the trick is just figuring out the difference and i imagine the Holy Spirit is key in that – but Jesus publically takes down the pharisees and other leaders on occasion, and paul publically rebukes peter at one time [i believe that public sin often requires public dealing with it – very different to the matthew 18 ‘if your brother sins against you’ way of dealing with things, because the sin has affected so many more people and for their growth they need to be aware of how it was dealt with and that it was dealt with]… i was recently unfriended on facebook for doing this to someone and looking back i still think i did the right thing, but i am not completely convinced i did it in the most loving way, the jury is still out on that one although i did spend a lot of time trying to mend the relationship after that.

so we need to be being good friends to those around us and when someone who calls themselves a Jesus follower displays some behaviour or posts something on a social network that is strongly against the message of following Jesus, we need to have the guts to confront them. but we need to speak Truth-in-Love and always make sure that we have an abundance of Love. we need to [and by ‘we’ i mean ‘i’ and i imagine my wife is going to hurt herself nodding to this one] take longer to respond and be very sure of the Love and manner of response before we send it. we need to make sure we are as vocal and more public in applauding when people get it right…

hopefully that is one mistake i can choose to never make again.

and that seems to perhaps be the principle [your thorts are greatly appreciated] – that if you sin in public, you need to be cautioned/rebuked/challenged/held accountable in public – and my reasoning is this… the people observing the non-Christ-following behaviour need to be made aware that that is not Christ-following behaviour otherwise they might think it is okay and go and do the same…

so when peter is chilling with the gentiles and then the certain group of jews show up and suddenly peter pulls aside and pretends not to hang with the gentiles, paul could have pulled peter aside and gently rebuked him, but then the people observing the behaviour would not have realised that it was wrong and would perhaps still have been discipled into doing the same kind of behaviour because peter had modelled it.

Jesus eventually takes on the Pharisees and Sadducees publically because He wants to send a strong message to them, but also to the people who are following them or watching their behaviour and thinking that is what it means to be a follower of Yahweh – and so He is sending a message to the people as much as He is to the religious leaders.

this coupled with the teaching in the new testament on the greater responsibility that leaders/teachers have to teach and live well, because not only are they responsible for their own lives, but also for the lives of those people who are watching them lead and listening to them teach…

so that is kind of where my thorts are at on this – i think it is a risky or potentially dangerous thinking to have, because it can quite easily be abused or done wrong – and i believe the key here is Truth in Love (altho again if we look at how Jesus speaks to the religious leaders it’s hard to see where Truth in Love ends and Righteous Anger begins)

the one other example someone quoted to me was Jesus and the woman caught in sin in John 8 but again the whole situation there was pretty public (altho the public aspect of it was kind of thrust upon Jesus as part of the trap) and coupled with Jesus’ “does anyone condemn you? no, then neither do I” is His parting line of “Go, and sin no more!” – the Love and the Responsibility go hand in hand and Jesus doesn’t undermine one to present the other…

continue to the last part here

listened to an ephesians 3 devotional by john piper who i have heard a lot about but have never heard or read any of his stuff before – really want to go back and watch that clip without sound because he looks a bit like a muppet on steroids – very energetic in movement

anyways i wasn’t overly inspired by most of what he said until right at the end when he basically said there are two tensions in the room and he is going to say something, that if people ‘get’ it or really embrace it, has the power to really change things or shake people up – so he built that up quite a bit and then went on to explain the two truths:

the first truth is that when the love of God takes root in us it sends us out to go and feed the hungry and clothe the naked and visit those in prison and take a stand against trafficking and get involved in the AIDS crisis and all other forms of practical involvement and justice seeking

the second truth is that when the love of God takes root in us it sends us out to save the lost with the power of the gospel message and what Jesus has achieved for us on our behalf

then he went on to say, “For Christ’s sake, can we Christians care about all suffering now, especially eternal suffering. Don’t choose between the two truths..”

[which is a valid statement as a lot of churches preach or live out ‘it’s all about the gospel of Jesus’ with no works of justice or service and the other extreme is all about doing works and justice with no Jesus and it really has to be a combination of both – the gospel is a message of hope both for now and for after we die]

and then went on to say “if either of these truths makes you angry or offends you, then either you have a defective view of hell, or you have a defective heart.”

i liked that.

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