beaten path

 

OK…so I guess now is the time for one of those more “serious” posts that I don’t want to write but feel compelled to write. I recently posted an article ( a rant really) on my personal facebook page regarding the transformation of Bruce (Caitlyn) Jenner. Despite its “ranty” nature, it contained some interesting discussion points on issues regarding femininity, beauty, and the culture’s view of both. I appreciated the issues he raised and thought some were valid…or at least worthy of discussion. I posted it mainly to get people’s thoughts (which I knew I would most certainly get!) The problem is that I don’t typically support this author and have found his writing often to be disrespectful and a bit careless. This article was no exception. I appreciate being direct, but you can still do so with kindness. This author has made me angry on more than one occasion by his harsh tone. It’s just not my style.

But I overlooked all of this in this instance and posted the article anyway. I gave fair warning of its nature and made it clear I only supported certain points he was making. But at the end of the day, I regret posting it…because I don’t ever want to compromise grace and compassion for truth. I’m sorry for anyone that it hurt.  I removed the post because I felt that any truth that might be found in it was going to be WAY overshadowed by everything else this author represents…and that’s not what I want. I also didn’t want people to wrongly assume I was partnering with this author in all of his opinions. And I did this based on my own convictions not because of pressure from anyone else. 

However, this brings up an issue that I lost sleep over last night and feel I must say. As a Christian, I also never want to compromise truth for grace and compassion. I feel that the error is just as dangerous on the other side of the spectrum. And there seems to be a growing culture among people who call themselves Christians to assume that grace and compassion are loving, but telling the truth is not.

The truth is that love requires ALL of these things. It is not loving to condemn, point fingers, mock and call names. But it is just as unloving to flatter, encourage, and affirm anything anybody does at any time as long as it doesn’t affect you. This idea that “it’s not for me to judge” has been taken WAY too far and is not biblical.

Let me give you just a few examples:

“Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor rather than one who has a flattering tongue.” Proverbs 28:23

“Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” Proverbs 27:5-6

“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them”. Ephesians 5:11

The point is that there are times when affirming, flattering and encouraging someone can be an incredibly empty and selfish thing to do. There is a saying that the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. And frankly, the attitude than anyone can do anything they want as long as I’m not affected sounds a lot more like indifference to me than love.

We all know this to be true somehow. Let’s say you discover a friend is really struggling and is thinking of committing suicide. What would your response be? Would it be loving to think,
“Hey, whatever makes them happy! Who am I to judge?! It’s not my place to say!”

Or would you do everything you can to gently and lovingly help that person find hope? To let them know that there is a better way? I know how I would feel. My heart would fill with compassion. And I would do everything I could do speak truth to that person. To tell them they are loved. To tell them that this path is NOT the best path. Sometimes people are so blinded by hurt they can’t see the right path. And it is LOVING to point them in the right direction.

Christians have been taught by Christ himself that there is a path that leads to Life and there is a path that leads to death. We aren’t just talking about heaven and hell here, we’re talking about every. single. daily. decision we make. They either bring life or they bring death.  And Christians have also been taught that people, including ourselves, can’t always see those paths clearly. We don’t always know which road we’re on. That’s why we need each other.

“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” Proverbs 14:12

This is the very heart of the gospel. To ignore someone when they are on a potentially dangerous path is NOT loving. Jesus pointed out sin, pointed out paths that were going to lead to death, pointed out error…and he pointed to the remedy – Himself. In HIM is found grace, forgiveness and hope. John 1:17 tells us Jesus was full of grace AND truth. The very essence of being a Christian means we believe this. That Jesus is the path to Life.

Christians, we can not condemn people. We can’t beat people over the head with our beliefs. We must respect free will and choice. Truth without love isn’t truthful. We must be kind. I am sorry for all the times I’ve failed at this. But we must also speak truth. Love without truth isn’t loving. We have a culture that is going to cheer on just about anything anybody does without even taking the time to evaluate whether it’s true or good. I consider a friend to be one who sees through the masks I wear, takes the time to read between the lines, looks me in the eyes and says,

“How are you REALLY doing?”

Most of us won’t even answer that question honestly anymore because we don’t think anyone really cares to know. Many of the people who are coming out to support Caitlyn Jenner are the same people who have no problem tearing down Bruce Jenner and the entire Kardashian family. Kim was blasted for her magazine cover. But suddenly those same people are Caitlyn’s biggest fans. It seems pretty disingenuous, and I have to imagine deep down that Bruce  can sense that.

As Christians, we need to care for Caitlyn Jenner and what happens to her. We need to care about Kim and all the rest of the “K’s” in the family. We of all people need to be consistent and display grace and compassion to ALL, not just those we think are worthy or deserving of it because they align with our belief system. The culture picks and chooses when to dole out grace and when to condemn and insult. It’s incredibly finicky and petty.

This is not us. We are at all times called to Love. At ALL times for everyone, we are to be compassionate. And at ALL times for everyone, we are to speak truth. We must do so with great care, seeking to understand. We won’t always be popular. We will almost certainly be misunderstood. But this is what Jesus meant when he says, “count the cost”. We speak truth not from a place that says, “I’m better than you” but from a place that says, “We are exactly the same. I hurt just like you do. And I’ve been given hope, would you like some too?” I don’t know Caitlyn Jenner but I’m not convinced she isn’t in need of some real hope.

Proverbs 85:10  says, “Faithful love and truth will join together; righteousness and peace will embrace.”

It is my prayer that this may be true of me and you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One Response to “Full of Grace and Truth”

  • Katriena:

    This was beautifully written and full of “Love and Truth”!

    You are so on point when you say, “We of all people need to be consistent and display grace and compassion to ALL, not just those we think are worth or deserving of it because they align with our belief system”

    After all, Jesus came to heal the sick and broken, and we are called to follow in His footsteps! :)

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