Speaking the Truth in Love

Written by Pastor Mark Tiefel / September 2015

A teaser for the popular television show, “What Would You Do?” caught my attention one night. If you’re not familiar with WWYD? here’s a brief description from Google: “Using hidden cameras, host John Quiñones observes and comments on how ordinary people behave when they are confronted with dilemmas that require them either to take action or to walk by and mind their own business.”

In that evening’s show, they set-up a scenario involving two gay men who were looking to adopt a baby. The situation placed the two men in a restaurant where they met with the pregnant mother who was considering adoption. In addition to their meeting, the scenario included a Christian woman who voiced her opinion against the adoption, based on her Biblical beliefs. Of course, this was all played out by actors in order to see how unsuspecting customers would respond, but each show is meant to teach the audience a lesson as well.

As this particular scene played out it didn’t take long to see that the Christian woman (remember, she’s an actor) was met with resistance from the majority of people. In some takes she expressed the simple concern that a Christian has with homosexuality, in others she was more forceful and rude in what she said. Some responses she received were: “Doesn’t she get it? This isn’t the Dark Ages anymore.”, “Hey, lady, you need to mind your own business.”, and “Can you believe what she’s saying?!” Of course, along with these comments came the usual glares and frowns directed at a Christian who openly calls something a sin.

Too many Christians are buying into the false idea that they have no right to talk about sin and repentance, especially in public.

Perhaps the most surprising comment of the segment came from another Christian. A young patron said he agreed with the woman’s views but not her approach. His basic thought was that it was okay to feel the way she did (that homosexuality was sinful and kids shouldn’t be raised in that environment) but she didn’t have the right to say anything about it. To this young man, being a Christian meant keeping your faith bottled up and rarely, if ever, expressing it; especially to the opposition. It was clear throughout the show that the Christian woman was portrayed as a judgmental bigot who was primitive in her thinking, even when she wasn’t being downright rude. The young man, however, was held up as a true example of what Christianity should be.

It’s sad for us to see this kind of portrayal in the media, especially since many people shape their views and opinions of Christians from the media. True witnessing of Christ does not mean pressing the issue and being argumentative, as this show made it out to be. But true witnessing doesn’t mean keeping your mouth shut, either. Jesus has a stern warning about refusing to speak about Him to others (Matthew 10:32-33, read vv. 16-26 for some context, too). Christian witnessing simply means “speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)” and letting Christ dominate the discussion (2 Corinthians 10:5).

It’s not surprising to see those who reject Christ complain against evangelism and witnessing. This kind of attitude is always present in the world, even Jesus experienced it (Luke 4:16-30). But a new twist that is becoming more and more popular in our society is Christians speaking out against witnessing, much like the young Christian man in the video. Too many Christians are buying into the false idea that they have no right to talk about sin and repentance, especially in public. In truth, Jesus Himself commands and gives that very right to all Christians (John 20:22-23, 1 Peter 2:9, 2 Timothy 3:16-17)!

The difficulty is that the problem has roots in several realms. Some of it comes from the world’s influence on the Church and individuals. Some of it comes from the fears and insecurities that go along with speaking about Christ. A large part of it comes from sinful attitudes in our lives. It’s always easier to find reasons not to say anything instead of boldly confessing in the face of mockings and ridicule.

Witnessing doesn’t mean that we have to go out in the streets and get in peoples’ faces. But there are tons of opportunities each day that the Holy Spirit opens for us; opportunities where we have the chance to say something in passing or a quick word from the Scriptures. Regularly, we come across people looking for answers or struggling with something in life. In these moments we can’t be afraid of witnessing, we can’t be intimidated by the world, and we can’t let false definitions about what Christians can or can’t do control us. Just let Christ speak through His Word, and when He does the message becomes clear – speak the truth in love!

If Christians before us shied away from speaking in public or before the opposition, what would we have today? What will you leave the next generation? You have the assurance that when you speak from God’s Word, you have the full permission and authority of God with you. Don’t get in the way of that power with your own pride or feelings, but don’t silence it by keeping your mouth shut, either.

1 Thessalonians 2:2 But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict.