You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Ephesians 4:22-25
Wednesday evening my men’s Bible study group enjoyed a deep, productive conversation about honesty and authenticity.
This morning, the more I think about it, the more bearing what we discussed seems to have on our early 21st-century dysfunction as a society.
- Our politics;
- Our relationships;
- Our family lives;
- Our race-relations;
- Our violence;
- Our religious conflicts;
- Our tragic need to present ourselves as “right” all the time;
- Our brokenness;
- Our fear…
I’ll share this short excerpt from the book we’re reading, then I’ll comment on how the scripture (above) spoke to my heart:
There is no better way to deal with insecurity and doubt than honesty. Authenticity turns out to be more closely related to strength than weakness; yet there we go, pretending, prevaricating, and twisting the truth, all because we don’t want to appear weak, or needy, or insufficient… But it’s Jesus who is sufficient, not us. We don’t need to worry about looking good; instead, we need to be concerned about our relationship to the Living God, and our faithfulness as followers of the Way. – In God’s Image, page 61
The scripture reading from Ephesians concludes with the following directive: “So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another.”
SPEAK THE TRUTH!
This really resonated with me because I’ve heard so much lately in the name of, “speaking the truth” that amounts to little more than name-calling, judgment, legalism, accusations, and the casting of aspersions. “I’m just telling it like it is!” and “I’m just being honest,” has very little to do with the Ephesians imperative to “speak the truth.”
In my men’s group we talked about being honest about ourselves – our vulnerabilities, our sin, our shortcomings, our fear, our doubts, our brokenness….
In other words, when we speak truth to our neighbors as a redeemed, forgiven, encouraging, Christ-centered faith community, then we speak from the context of the truth about ourselves and of who we are, and we experience reconciliation.
When we speak truth to our neighbors as a redeemed, forgiven, encouraging, Christ-centered faith community, then we speak from the context of the truth about ourselves and of who we are, and we experience reconciliation.
This idea of “calling out sin” in the other is usually a front for directing the incisive light of the gospel message away from our own sin. To be sure, there is a place for accountability in the body of Christ, but it can only come out of relationships steeped in trust, in love, in humility, and in the truth of mutual honesty.
Riots and blame and such:
So how does this have anything to say about the immediate world of riots and accusations and politics and anger and fear? Well, it is my considered opinion that the searchlight of truth is usually better employed to focus on ourselves, no matter who we are, and no matter what we are struggling with.
The searchlight of truth focused by the police force on itself. The searchlight of truth focused by offended minority communities on themselves. The searchlight of truth focused on our own hearts and motives and relationships….
Stop pointing the finger at the other. Start looking at ourselves, and be honest about our own sin, our own shortcomings, our own brokenness, our own fear, our own need for forgiveness.
Set up long tables on the streets and have communion together. Break the bread, not each other.
Break the bread, not each other…
Speak the truth of ourselves to one another – honest and vulnerable. “…to our neighbors, for we are members of one another.”
In love, and because of love – DEREK