We are living in a time unprecedented in the lives of our forbears dating back to the start of this nation. Our Declaration of Independence stated a firm belief that truths (self-evident and otherwise) were established by God. No matter how broken these courageous men may have been (and, yes, they were sinful men) they held that the standards of good and evil were ultimately decided by God.
Yet, today, much of our nation has turned its back on God-given truth to favor a system in which we can choose to determine what is good and evil for ourselves. It is no longer considered courageous or righteous to stand firm on what God has declared, it has become something now considered backwards and essentially uneducated. This is truth being redefined.
We Christians, at least in part, own some responsibility for this perception. We have allowed some to speak loudly and irresponsibly about what the Word of God says. We sometimes sat on the sidelines when Christianity was used as an excuse to demean/enslave/oppress other people who are created and loved by God. We sometimes have not raised our voices to condemn those voices and defend the ones who are attacked, even if it is to cost us something.
God is a God of love, the apostle John says that God is love (1 John 4:16). Jesus commanded us to love one another (John 13:34), even going so far as to tell us to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44-48). Love, in its most pure nature, is the desire for good in the lives of others. In the world we live in with apparently limited resources, it seems that a desire for good in others requires that we give up some good in our lives. Yet, the kingdom of God is not of limited resources and, as citizens of that kingdom, we are freed from the competition and striving of this world.
Engaging our world with voices that are free from the stridency of fear is the great call of God to us as followers of Christ. The apostle Paul understood this and told us that we must speak truth in love (Eph 4:15). Truth, given by God, asserting firmly that it is His right to determine good and evil; spoken in love, with a gentleness that declares clearly that our desire is for good life to those who are listening.
The world needs to see a body of Christ followers who are actually willing to both give voice to and live out His teachings of love. Loving others is not easy, it is not mere acceptance and tolerance, it is not simply rolling over so others may have their way. True love requires courage, it requires thoughtfulness, analysis, dialogue, and it, most importantly, requires a Redeemer.
Let us begin, first in prayer, then in deed, to become this body. Let us raise our voices in support of the oppressed and victimized in our world, let us engage in true dialogue with those who do not share our Savior, finding points of commonality upon which we can build peaceful bridges of communication. Let us learn and practice what it means to speak the truth in love.
Ephesians 4:15 (NIV)
15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.
Michael Murphy is co-author of Leading Beyond Your Limits. He has served in a variety of leadership roles in ministry settings in both church and mission fields since 1993.