Speak the Truth in Love
This proverb is a timely reminder for Christians in Minnesota. As the followers of Jesus we are called to be people who speak truth, but we must build bridges of love strong enough to bear the weight of truth.
And the harder the truth, the more generous and lavish the love must be.
Christians are the primary supporters of a constitutional amendment in Minnesota to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Many people do not understand this view that marriage is a special relationship created by God to allow for sexual intimacy, procreation and nurturing family systems. Instead they misinterpret attempts to strengthen the idea of marriage as being discriminatory or unjust and hateful.
We have a lot of work to do to communicate a vision of marriage as God describes it in the Bible, and at the same time demonstrate that we also love and care about people who have developed alternative ideas of marriage.
Even a few Christians no longer understand the original purpose and importance of marriage. In fact, Christian marriages have just as many difficulties as most other couples. But rather than abandon the benefits of marriage, we need to strengthen it, support it, and encourage it.
The primary beneficiaries of stable, loving marriage relationships are children. While other parental models can provide for children – and many single parents work extra hard and sacrifice so much to raise their children alone – we hold on to God’s promise that the best and most fulfilling way for children to grow up, is when they can be in a loving relationship with both their mom and dad, living in the same, nurturing household.
That is a very hard truth that right now is not understood by many people in Minnesota. The harder the truth, the more generous our love must be.
So I agree that amending Minnesota’s constitution may be the best way to strengthen society’s vision of marriage and promote the health and well-being of future generations. But as we move towards that, we have an enormous responsibility to be known first and foremost as people of love.
As Christians, one of our highest priorities is to attract people to Jesus. One of the strategies Jesus gave us to do that is to embody the love of the Kingdom of God.
We can learn from the model given us by Jesus. While Jesus came to earth to convince us of God’s love for us, he also spoke the truth. He challenged racial and cultural stereotypes. He confronted superficial religiosity. But he loved and served the vulnerable, the social outcast, the poor and the needy.
I see two important lessons from the life of Jesus that apply here. First, it was because of his compassionate love and generous service that Jesus’ words of truth were received by his audience. Second, some people never accepted Jesus’ words of truth, but his kindness towards them never changed.
Today it is easy to say “I love you.” But these words are empty unless they are accompanied by actions. As we try to share truth about a God-centered vision of marriage, we need to communicate that truth with a love that is proven through service.
I propose that Christians launch an unprecedented season of service – as has been seen in the recent response by churches in North Minneapolis following the devastating tornado last week – lavish enough to prove to anyone that we are people of love.
Let’s flood Minnesota with acts of charity. Let’s pour ourselves into the lives of vulnerable people, the oppressed and the poor. Let’s exhaust ourselves in love, to care for the homeless, to help single mothers, support teachers in our schools, and to create jobs for the unemployed. Let’s become known as a people who rescue people from sexual slavery, who work for reconciliation, who care for creation, who advocate for immigrants, and build strong communities.
And let’s do this because we are people of love who are transformed by Jesus.
This article was originally printed in the Minnesota Christian Examiner, June 2011.