We are continuing our series in looking at practical ways we can be missional wherever the Lord has called us. Last week we talked about the importance to making the Gospel the center of our mission work. While social work is important and necessary to a Christian’s mission, our most vital purpose or mission is to herald the Good News of Jesus Christ. This week, we will look at another practical step in being missional: saying the tough stuff with love.
The world we live in today is not exactly living in line with the Gospel message. While western countries continue to push individualized approaches to moralism, more conservative Middles Eastern and Asian countries continue to follow centuries old traditions in spite of some of the people in society they may marginalize. As a Christian, we must be wise and discerning with how to navigate this tricky climate we currently live in. I believe the key for Christians is to speak the truth with love. There are 3 very important words I want us to consider about this point.
The first word is speak. With the predominant culture in both the West and the East not aligning itself with Scripture, (again we shouldn’t expect it to as culture is a man-made attempt to create what only God can do), we are left with issues that we simply cannot agree with the culture around us. What are we to do? Most Christians find it easier to keep quiet about these hot button issues and maybe share their feelings in a group of like-minded people.
But as Christians we are called to speak to a sinful and hell-bound culture as those who are trying to warn and save some from perishing. If we only speak about the ills of culture and society to our Christian friends, how are we warning those around us to flee from the coming wrath? Look at some of the famous stories of prophets in the Old Testament called to speak to the sinful cultures for the purpose of pointing them to God, (Jonah, Elijah, etc…). We cannot keep quiet when the culture around us is going deeper and darker into sin. As missionaries, we must be willing to speak.
Speaking, however, is not enough. We must speak the truth. As Christians, we believe the Bible is God’s eternal and perfect Word for us. Thus, we believe that what the Bible says is truth that spans all times, all countries and all cultures. The Bible is our standard of truth no matter where we live. It is objective truth and thus the idea of subjective truth must be rejected if we are to lean on the truth of God’s Word.
Today there are many issues our world wants to subjectivize. From abortion, homosexual rights and transgender issues to greed, selfish ambition and debauchery, we are surrounded by a world that wants to do what it pleases instead of doing what pleases the Lord. We cannot allow ourselves to drift away from God’s Word in order to present a more palatable Gospel to those around us. God’s Word is clear on these hot button issues, and because God’s Word is eternally true, we must follow what the Lord has commanded and not what is fashionable or popular in the culture around us. Christians, we are to be missionaries who know the truth of God’s Word and speak it.
We must speak even when it is hard. We must speak the truth of the Bible even when it disagrees with the culture around us. But we must do both of these in love. If we merely speak truth but no love, we end up with a message that sounds judgmental, arrogant and uncaring. The Bible goes as far to say that we are similar to a clanging gong when our speech lacks love, (1 Cor. 13).
This means that we must check our motives before spouting off what we think. It means we are cautious before we post things on social media, (even if non-Christians aren’t being careful). It means that we prayerfully and humbly consider who and how we are speaking the truth. Just because we are speaking the truth in love doesn’t mean we are watering down the truth. I meet many Christians whose idea of love is a watered down message from the Bible or a complete vacating from it. Instead, we are to still speak an unchangeable, eternal truth but to do so in a way the desires God’s glory and the good of those we are speaking to.
As missionaries in a world that is at best indifferent and at worst hostile to our work and God’s Word, we must be willing to speak the truth in love. All three elements are what missionaries are called to incorporate into our lives. Anything less is selfish and a disservice to the perishing world around us. Christians, let us be a missional people who are willing to speak the truth in love.