Ephesians 4:15 tells us, “Instead speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Speaking the truth in love. Like what does that even mean really? I have been dwelling on this for a while now, pretty much since the first month or two that we first arrived in Africa. I know the “right answer” is speaking the truth in love: confronting your brothers and sister in love by using the scriptures as truth to speak to them in a way that pleases the Lord. I put quotations not be sarcastic (lets be real, I’m like always sarcastic so I gotta clarify) but to show that I don’t believe this is the only reason. Recently I posted on my personal facebook page: Speaking the truth is love is probably one of the hardest things for us to do as Christians. Its easy to give into emotion and speak out of hurt, frustration or anger. As we strive to live and be like Christ it is important for us to remember that we should live as examples of Christ's love and speak the truth even when it hurts. God has been teaching me a lot about honesty and being vulnerable lately. Praying that God delivers us from our pride and invites us into humility before him so that we may love one another as Christ loves us. In this status something occurred to me. Do I really love the people that I surround myself with? Am I a living example of Christ’s love in every circumstance, every relationship and in every aspect of my life? The truth is no. And the truth is what I am getting at here.
So many times in my life I have been afraid to be honest and that fear has been the element that has controlled my life and kept me in a place of cowardice and deceit. Not only being deceitful to my friends but deceitful to myself. I believe that if we claim the love of Christ as a driving force for our actions we should be able to love freely and unconditionally…..even towards ourselves but that’s not always easy when we lack honesty. In not being honest with those around us we are hindering Gods love from overflowing from with in us because we are putting a guard on the truth just to save our own skin. God spoke such a solid truth into my life and it was that he cares more about our friends and loved ones salvation more than he cares about our relationship with them. You might read that and think, whoa Amanda, you’ve stepped over the line but seriously lets think about it for a second. We are not Jesus, we are not God and we do not judge who gets into heaven and who doesn’t. God calls us to be loving and welcoming to one another but he doesn’t call us to save each other, only HE can truly save someone, did you get that? Only God can bring true salvation. We can encourage them and invite them to church, have a bible study with them or even go to Starbucks for a coffee date and talk all about Jesus and how awesome he is. My point is this: how many times have we not been honest with the people we love and concealed the truth from them because we were afraid to be honest and there was/is a possibility that we might lose them? How many times have we disregarded guidance from the Holy Spirit because we let fear over power God?
We as humans are very momentary creatures. Everything that is happening right before us is so important so huge that there is just a cloud over the future. What I am getting at is that when things happen to us it can be devastating or bring us so much joy but we can’t see past that and when the bad things happen we don’t know how to cope. All we do is focus on the pain and the emotion, which distracts us from listening to God because our emotions become louder than his calm, still voice. How does this relate to truth and love? I’ll tell ya. We fear the intense moment that happens when we tell the truth, we fear their hatred, their anger, the pain we will cause them and we fear that our relationship will change and we will lose them. But you know what, I would rather lose 100 friends if it meant that they were gained for Christ. We fear losing them in this life, but we should fear losing them for eternity. Christ went first before us and spoke truth to the world. People hated him for it, they beat him, the tortured him and they hung him on a cross and pierced his side. He didn’t have to do any of that but he did it all for us. He cared more about our relationship with the Father, our salvation that he gave his own life. Could you give up your life for the truth? Could you sacrifice it all, surrender it all if it meant one person could meet Jesus?
Recently I had a friend do this for me. She stepped in and went to battle for me because I was not strong enough to do it on my own. She DID NOT let her fear of losing my friendship stop her from being honest because she was doing it out of love. I have never in my life felt more loved than I did in that moment. That my friends is what Christ asks of us. I was not happy with her when she told me the truth, in fact it hurt, and I was angry but you know what the real problem was. FEAR. I was afraid to lose someone close to me and I ignored God and what he was asking me to do. Friends, don’t let that fear control your life. Christ did not die on the cross so you could live in that fear and let it dictate the truth. He died so that we could live and live in freedom.
There’s that old saying, the truth will set you free and I have learned that here in Uganda. It is not easy to step out your front door and be excited about Jesus when you fear what people might say or do. Heck, its not easy to do that in America, but that is the calling all of us have as followers of Christ. Matthew 28:19-20 tells us; “Therefor go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” We are given one life on this planet and in all ways we should speak to each other, speaking the truth in love. Never fearful of what tomorrow might bring but resting in the peace that only Christ can give us. If we give into that fear we have to learn how to forgive ourselves and thank Jesus we have a loving Father in heaven who is just abounding in grace. Forgiveness is not easy, but forgiving yourself is a lot harder. That is probably another topic for another day but I just wanted to share this piece of my heart with you and not be fearful of what this message might bring. I am guilty of with holding the truth because of fear, but today I want to claim the freedom I have in Christ and focus on salvation and those pearly white gates. I want all my brothers and sisters to be with me one day in heaven rejoicing and praising the Lord. So my challenge to leave y’all with, be honest in every word that you speak to each other, invite God’s love into every moment.
If you want to listen to some songs that encouraged me to write this:
Hawk Nelson: Drops in the Ocean
Phil Wickham: When My Heart Is Torn Asunder
Phil Wickham: Safe
Hillsong Young & Free: Sinking Dee