Last blog, I asked what is God trying to teach his Church about the nature of “truth in love” as we are hitting scores of ideological opportunities to conflict and divide. This problem rubs awkwardly against Jesus’ prayer for a Church that demonstrates him through their unity. (John 17:21)
I’ve included some reader answers in this blog.
“What is truth?” was Pilate’s insidious question that condemned Jesus. Jesus probably could have answered some of Pilates questions or worked a miracle and avoided the cross.
These are few of the sticks of dynamite getting flung around:
Universalism (and it’s little brother, pluralism)
Sexuality and gender
Participation in internet silos like FB is also impacting the conversation.
Ideological issues may have significant impact on quality of life but how (if at all) should they inform the quality of the Church’s love and unity? How important is it that we are right about these things?
Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). How does our love cover/protect others we think are wrong ideologically to the point of harm or sin?
Here are some comments readers gave to my last blog asking about the importance of truth and unity in light of John 17. Slightly edited quotes are in italics. My brief comments follow each quote.
“Be love more than be right. Truth released in love brings transformation.”
Being love is a costly but amazing road to go down. Is this an ambitious goal to pursue?
“Don’t focus on politics and health practices that have nothing to do with Christianity i.e. these shouldn’t be central to our faith. Not everything has to be about what God thinks.”
It’s very difficult to unhook ourselves from things like health and politics if we really care about people, but somehow we need to usefully demonstrate love beyond these lines.
“Focus on root causes, not current fruit (issues).”
I think about this as systemic thinking and problem solving. Working in a conflict space as INfire, we think about what is causing the conflict and how to address that, not just the surface tensions. Is truth better discovered by considering things on a systemic level?
“Look for opportunities to lay your life down like Jesus gave up his life.”
Are any of us giving our lives up in loving our neighbor like God demonstrated? This gets tricky. Am I loving someone how I think they desire to be loved, how I “know” they need to be loved or how they say they want to be loved? What is guiding me in these choices?
“Pay attention to the life of Jesus who lives in us…”
Jesus is a person, how much conversation do we do with him on a daily basis to invite him to inform what we say and show about our faith?
“Be known for what I am for, not what I am against.”
From a LYE (Love Your Enemy) perspective, Jesus requires 4 things – to love, bless, pray for and give to enemies. These are 4 things any opponent should clearly see are true about us even if we don’t believe they are in the right. Giving includes paying taxes to the US government even if you didn’t vote for Biden. 🙂
“Our one job is to be transformed into a recognizable example of The Christ.”
I’m not sure how much of that transformation process comes from me, and how much comes from God, it feels like a 50/50 partnership as he works from my “yes” and my desire. In my own experience, it requires a lot of humility to truly enter that “transformational” space. Being a true peacemaker means you walk in peace and are often confronted for it because it seems foreign or vulnerable to others.
“Value relationships, peace and reconciliation.”
Relationship — don’t burn bridges with people you don’t agree with now. Be humble enough to understand you may see their perspective or a new angle 10 years down the road.
“We can be dead right and end up being dead wrong.”
I’ve see this often especially with my cross-cultural work. It’s so easy to think we understand the “right” of something! If you are skilled at being right about things, hopefully you have also discovered how that doesn’t always work in your favor?
“Look at the entire picture of John 13-17 to understand what God is trying to help us see.”
This is more than we can work through in this blog. However, these are deep theological thoughts and prayers of Jesus for his key friends before the cross. We do need a deep dive into these passages to mine truth on how to love better since Jesus went to the cross for love and mercy.