The church seems to be confused about the concept of truth.
We say we believe the truth, but I believe we’ve been conditioned by our culture to think that it is more educated/enlightened/accepting to believe that my truth is as relevant as yours.
Just believe what you want. Believe in yourself if you want. Who am I to criticize your truth? If we each have our own truth then there is not truth or right or wrong.
In Christian circles, I see confusion everywhere: from the books pumped out of Christian publishing houses, to the bloggers we follow. When they deviate from the Bible, we’re quick to write it off as a misunderstanding or just “their experience”, when in reality they are breaking rank with Scripture and we are giving them a thumbs up as the world watches on. Recently a big name blogger divorced her husband and married another woman. Instead of grieving this woman’s vow-breaking and disobedience, Christians bought in to her “journey” as though that was the ultimate thing. Some jumped on board and applauded her because she’s happier now, when women who know God’s word should be grieving that yet another public figure tossed obedience aside for desire.
This is a silly example, but Christians memes filled with error are EVERYWHERE.
This morning, scrolling through my FB feed was this meme: “I am enough.” It was from a Christian page. Christian women were liking and affirming this feel-good three-word statement. But the meme is not true from a Christian’s worldview. What’s the problem with “I am enough” you ask? We’ll, obviously, if I were enough, I didn’t need Christ and he died in vain. If I were enough I could have saved myself and taken care of all my own need in my self-sufficiency. God’s Word teaches the absolute opposite– that I was so lacking in EVERY area, morally and spiritually destitute, it was like I was a dead corpse, and Christ reached down to help me. No, I am not enough and neither are you, and people who believe they are enough will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven, as it is only for those who recognize their utter spiritual poverty as detailed in the Sermon on the Mount. (Matt.5:3) (Good news & spoiler alert: Christ is enough.)
We’ve elevated feelings and demoted God’s Word as a take it or leave it smorgasbord.
Are you uncomfortable with the word “truth”? The church is called the “pillar and foundation of truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15)
Do you relate to Pontius Pilate who mused, “What is truth?”
“Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world–to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
Jesus claims to be THE Truth.
Truth is an indisputable fact. It’s reality. Truth transcends culture and time.
As Christians, we’re commanded to speak the truth in love, but do we understand what this means?
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.
The verse doesn’t say to speak YOUR truth. Many like to imagine that this verse is their straight-up mandate to vent all.their.feelings, and let you know everything that you EVER did to them that they didn’t like about you. That might be speaking your truth but, just to set the record straight, it’s not speaking the truth. It’s having no filter. So, NO, you shouldn’t tell Sally that she really should lose some weight or let Jane know that you don’t approve of the length of the skirt she’s wearing.
Speaking truth is to edifying another believer towards Christian maturity by promoting Scripture as TRUTH that can be depended upon. It’s to promote sound doctrine and to build up a discouraged (or even sinful) believer with the promises of God’s faithfulness.
It looks like this:
“I know you’re discouraged that you used your tongue in a less than gracious way again, Sally, but God is faithful to forgive us when we ask and He’s promised to give us a way to escape the temptation if we look to Him. Why don’t you just ask Him to forgive you and return to Him?”
“Yes, this heartache seems unbearable, Jane, but God is the God who is near to the Brokenhearted, so He is right here with you.”
“I know it’s disappointing when people don’t respect you, but ultimately humility is a place where we can embrace the lowly mindset of Christ. Could this be another opportunity to kill pride and become more like Christ?”
In Alive in Him, Gloria Furman, states it this way:
“Speaking the truth in love” has…everything to do with building up someone else with good doctrine in a loving manner. Solid doctrine is our building material, love is our disposition, and maturity in Christ is our aim.” pg.117
“Truthing solid doctrine with each other wars against our flesh while it strengthens our souls. If a toe gets stubbed, the whole leg smarts, and the body walks with a limp. Ephesians teaches us that the ascended, victorious Christ is creating in himself one new man of which we are a part…every member, then, is a minister to every other member.” p.117
Sometimes speaking truth means that over my dead body will you go this direction while I remain silent.
Do we feel all “weird-ed out” to hold anyone to a biblical standard of truth even as Christians? It’s risky, isn’t it? Because often times Christians are offended when other believers hold them to the Biblical standard by which they claim to live.
We have to also speak up when truth is trampled by erring Christian teachers who are not discernible from the world. God’s grace is bringing us toward’s greater goodness and holiness every day, my friends, and we have to expect that pursuit from the people we look to for leadership.
In 1875, when Hannah Whitall Smith penned a book entitled The Christian’s Secret to A Happy Life, it became an instant best seller, well before the days of the internet or celebrity blogger. She was a big ticket and her success set her up as a prominent speaker on the “higher life” idea of Christian victory. People bought into it and sought her out.
Behind the scenes though, there was a huge disconnect between what she wrote and what she lived. Her personal life was a total mess. In 25 Surprising Marriages, William Peterson recalls the unhappy nature of her marriage to her husband, Robert. He traveled a lot, leaving her alone and they fought. He accused her of being a cold, frigid wife. Her journal reveals that she doubted God, especially after the death of her little boy, and years later she described herself as an agnostic. The year her book was published was also the year her husband had to step out of ministry for adultery/infidelity. The year she wrote another book about child raising (1894) was the same year her younger daughter married atheist Bertrand Russell. And her older daughter left her husband and two children for an artist.
My point is not to glory in Hannah’s failure’s. Not at all. But to warn that though she wrote this:
If we are to walk as Christ walked, it must be in private as well as in public, at home as well as abroad. It must be every hour all day long, and not at stated periods or on certain fixed occasions. We must be Christlike everywhere and to all. It is in daily living that practical holiness can best show itself, and we may well question any “professions” that fail under this test of daily life. An anxious Christian, a discouraged, gloomy Christian, a doubting Christian, a complaining Christian, an exacting Christian, a selfish Christian, a cruel, hard-hearted Christian, a self-indulgent Christian, a Christian with a sharp tongue or bitter spirit, may be a very earnest worker and have an honorable place in the Church. But, he or she is not a Christlike Christian, and knows nothing of the lessons of this book concerning the higher Christian life.
her life was different behind the scenes. Did her reader’s catch that in her book? Did they overlook it?
I have to ask myself how someone with so much knowledge of scripture, and with a vibrant public ministry like Hannah’s, with the wherewithal to write the above excerpt could have turned away from God?
What truth did she deny? What truth are we denying? Where are we skeptics when God’s Word has spoken it as truth?
Do we believe that God is who He says He is?
If so, what responsibility do we have to His Word?
Are we living as though God’s Word is Truth?
EVERY word of every book, teacher, pastor, speaker, blogger, should be examined through the sieve of Scripture to see if it aligns with the Truth.
Every thought and motive in my own heart should be tested as well, to see where it stands.
Often we have to peel back the layers of our own thoughts, words, fears, emotions, to see the lies that are buried in our own hearts that we are holding on to as Gospel Truth.
If we want to be women of the Word, we have to KNOW the Bible inside and out. We have to read it. A lot. We have to let it infiltrate our mind and change our pre-conceived notions.
“Be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only.”
Then we need to meditate on what it says. “What does it say and mean?” Simple questions. “What am I doing about this information? Am I living this truth?”
Don’t read for knowledge’s sake. Read to obey.
And please, please, don’t confuse interest in the knowledge of Biblical things with being teachable by the Holy Spirit. A teachable heart is pliable to the truth of God’s word.
“All you have said, we will do.”
“Sanctify (set them apart) with thy truth. Thy word is truth.”
I’m praying for you this week as you get into your Bible. If you have little kids in the house like I do, I know it’s hard to make this happen. I have to set aside time every day to read or it doesn’t magically happen. Five minutes is better than nothing so don’t let time restraints keep you from even a little. Put your Bible in a prominent place, like the kitchen counter so you can glance at it on your way by or when you have a free minute to stir your soup. I know you know all this already, but I wanted to encourage you today to put away any distractions that would keep you from getting into God’s Word. It’s not something that’s celebrated in the world, so I want to cheer you on as you learn to love and value God and His Word a little more each day.
Praying for you as we seek Him together and believe HIS Truth.