The Truth – It’s Complicated

It was an unpleasant call, but it could have been worse.

A friend informed me that someone was posting falsehoods about me on a social media site. Truly unpleasant. As I read the lies, though, it occurred to me what would have been worse is if these tales were true. As dreadful as it is to confront deceptive words told to hurt me, what I dread more is facing truths about how I’ve fallen short of the call on my life.

Of course, Christ has me (and you) covered on all fronts. When others lie about us, He is our defender. When we must face the truth of our guilt, He provides grace to bear up, strength to repent, and power to transform.

Jesus invented the wholistic approach to life change. It involves equal parts love and truth.

I remember chatting with a parent whose actions had been reported to the child abuse hotlines. He ranted on about the outrage of the report, how uncomfortable it had been to sit with a state investigator, and how embarrassing it was to have to work with me. When he wound himself down a bit, I asked if he minded a question.

“Okay,” he responded with a cautious scowl.

“Was the report true?”

He nodded. “Yeah, it was true, but . . .” He stopped as I help up my hand.

“Do you love your children?”

“Of course, I love my children!”

“Are they safer now than they were prior to the report being made to the hotline?”

“Well, now I guess, but I still don’t like the process.”

“No, but the process made people you love safer. That’s a positive outcome of facing a hard truth, isn’t it?”

We seldom like the process of hearing or facing uncomfortable truths. I don’t like it. I hate the internal cringe, the stomach squirm, the spiritual wince when I come to understand the truth of my own wrongdoing, wrong thinking, or wrong motives. I am never more thankful for the cross than I am in those moments.

Sadly, if The Modern Western Church was friends with Truth on Facebook, our relationship status would be listed as “It’s Complicated.”

Admit it. We’re head-over-heels about the love of Jesus but the truth of Jesus is something we often hide from strangers like that weird uncle we don’t introduce to our boyfriend until we’re sure he’s all in. Love we lavish on passers-by, on enemies, on coworkers and neighbors. We fling love around with abandon. We flaunt love.

But, the love of Jesus is more than an overture to a deeper relationship. We can’t dissect Jesus, introducing Him a piece at a time to skeptics. Dissection is for dead things and Jesus is alive. We don’t woo them into a false sense of comfort before springing truth on them because that would be, well, unloving. To treat love like an overture is to sell love short. To delay presenting truth is to produce a mangled version of love, one that isn’t really love but a back-alley knock off.

If our lives are worship as Paul indicates in Romans 12:1 – “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” – then we must live them in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24). Jesus spoke these words to a woman made uncomfortable by the truth He knew about her and spoke to her. He wasn’t afraid of scaring her off because the only way He wanted to be in relationship with her was if she embraced the truth.

Jesus never divorced love from truth. He wouldn’t even tolerate a trial separation. When the rich young ruler asked Jesus what he must do to be saved, Mark writes, “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Mark 10:21-22 ESV

Jesus loved him but He told him the straight-up truth.

The gospel isn’t something we present in stages: Phase 1: Smile and hold your arms wide open. Welcome the target inside. Present them with coffee and friendship and the love of God.  Phase 2: Spring the whole truth on them and hope they stick around for dessert in the fellowship hall.

If we’ve embraced the truth – the whole truth – and found salvation in Christ. If we’ve experienced God’s rich love and transforming truth in our own lives. Well, don’t you know there’s nothing particularly special about us? We’re no smarter or braver or truer or “readier” for the gospel than the people we encounter every day, and yet we stumbled into salvation through Christ.

Why are we withholding truth from others and calling it love? It’s not. It’s cowardice. And they don’t need a gutless gospel. They need the full-strength loving truth of Jesus – nothing more and certainly nothing less.

The first followers weren’t judgmental or condemning when they reported to everyone what they had seen and heard. Others were free to determine for themselves how they responded. Some, walked into relationship with Jesus. Others walked away.

At least the first followers presented them with all the information they needed to make an informed choice. Are we affording this generation the same opportunity? If not, how can we even pretend to love them?

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6 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Maggie Rowe says:

    Thank you for this excellent post, as always, Lori. It makes me angry that someone would post lies about you for reasons I can’t even imagine, I hope others in that social media community have risen up to defend you as they have Beth Moore and other women of influence who have been maligned. I respect you greatly and I’m so grateful for your ministry of writing and speaking.

  2. Wendy says:

    Much needed words especially now – well said! Now to put into practice 😬!

  3. Bruce Cunningham says:

    Yes!!!

  4. Jan Clough says:

    Sticks and stones!!!

    I remember a similar painful experience but very carefully examined my heart. Difficult as it was l prayerfully forgave those who hurt me. It wasn’t long before they were aware of just how subtle Satan had been and over time the love of Jesus was the victor Amen!

    It is also a sad fact of social media that we are often open targets for people who use anonymity to viscously attack without a care of their target. God help them!

    Thank God for His love and reassurance that whatever we do in His name He will be glorified here on earth Amen!

    Lori it goes without saying you are loved and respected.
    Onwards n Upwards!

  5. Trisha Mugo says:

    I love this, Lori. Such a convicting message.

  6. Rob McCullough says:

    Lori, this is so good. He is very much alive and All of Him is ONE! I am watching the Lord really enjoying you. Stay the course – He is right there with you through thick and thin!