Matthew 10:33-35 says, "But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven. “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword. ‘I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. (NLT)
It appears that while the world has gotten smaller as a result of technological developments, it also has gotten louder. Now divisions that were once reserved for the internal battles of a nation have become mainstream and get shuttled around the globe. The fight it seems is global. This by no means excludes the church as what one experiences on one side of the planet also gets quickly disseminated to the other side in a matter of moments. You would think that on a good day this would mean more collaboration, yet it sometimes appears that tribalism is winning the day. Truth is that truth is the victim of our modern communication.
The Body of Christ is supposed to help transform culture but often is trapped in simply modulating the cultural disagreements that exist. The cry to “be all things to all men,” is not (as many today would have you believe) a call to surrender the very distinctive that makes us salt and light to a dark world.
I believe part of the problem is that we simply hate rejection and of course conflict. That’s not always a bad thing and it certainly helps to monitor our heart to make sure our communication is always seasoned with love. However, never has the challenge to adopt Kingdom-mindedness in our speech – whether print or verbal, been ever more important. That Kingdom-mindedness simply means that we speak truth, celebrate truth, promote truth and yes even suffer for truth in return. The sword Jesus is speaking about in the verse above I believe is, above all things—TRUTH.
1 Peter 2:1- So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. (NLT)
In order to do this effectively today outside of a closet - commitment requires I believe, some weaponry to truly represent Jesus’ ideal for love in our present age.
Cultural awareness – There is nothing more debilitating to sharing truth than being oblivious to the culture you are addressing. The world has gotten smaller yes, but it hasn’t eliminated the super high walls of tribalism that persist to exist. Sometimes I read the banter that Christians share and really wonder if they actually know what their pontificating about. Truth can only be fed to a mouth that is open! Meaning that you have made yourself aware of the nuances of your audience’s cultural background – and I don’t mean race alone. I have always prepared others to speak publicly by informing them that their unique experiences don’t always translate well in every setting. I believe this afflicts many preachers today who simply think everyone sitting in a church pew is a card-carrying believer for many years! Be aware before you speak and especially write. Truth doesn’t change even for culture – but it must be understood to be applied.
Historical understanding – I personally hate always dealing with symptoms rather than the down-to-earth issue at hand. Sometimes the things we are most passionate about are rarely understood from a historical perspective. If you respect truth then do your homework and do not merely repeat what someone else has said. The social media phenomena is riddled with copied and pasted posts about stuff that isn’t even real but championed and even fought over as if it was truth! When people and in particular believers do this, it damages their credibility and exposes their gullibility.
Pastoral empathy – Before you hang up the phone on this one, please understand that it does not require that you be a pastor to employ it. Sharing and understanding someone’s feelings goes a long way in being heard since truth and mercy work together. When we simply dismiss someone’s feelings, especially of you are a leader, truth also gets shut down. Understanding someone’s circumstances or the ‘why’ they think something, does not require that you accept it as unchangeable. Having empathy is NOT tolerance without the truth! What tends to happen is that we accept silent superficiality rather than the risk of loving confrontation that is fueled by empathy. Relationships cannot breathe without the oxygen of honest engagement and face-to-face communication. Superficiality, though culturally accepted is cancerous to friendship and a detriment to truth. Be done with hypocrisy and deceit – people can read you.
Holy Spirit submission – Finally, let’s really cash in on Jesus’ promise that said “the Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth.” That simply means that before we lean in on our own intellect, our prejudice, or even our own personal experience, we learn to ask and then listen to His voice. Call HIM the communication GPS that whispers truth to our own heart and prompts us for action. I could never imagine the Holy Spirit caving in to today’s cultural demands or requirements for acceptance. The world will never hear from God if they continue to believe He is just like them! However, He will guide you to be seasoned with understanding and care for those you are trying to reach.
Perhaps it is important that you speak—and especially write LESS and listen more. That way, you can hear truth spoken, respond with action, and then share with conviction.
© 2017 Jimmy Mas / firstname.lastname@example.org
Jimmy Mas is currently the apostolic team leader of New City Ministry, a ministry dedicated to providing guidance, strategic impartation, and apostolic alignment for Spirit-led ministry leaders and churches. Authored “Developing Secondary Leadership” a manual and seminar aimed at character development of future ministry leaders, used in several nations and cities in North America. Jimmy Mas is a member of ICAL.