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Sunday, April 03, 2005

truth or judgment

i wrote this as a comment to christian's post, what is love part 2, as a reply to what brandon wrote. then i decided it would make a decent post all on it's own. brandon's question is the topic:
how are we as fallen humans to practise a "love that rescues"
i just picked up this book for my church planting class called evangelism outside the box (i know, cheesy title and it's a pretty cheesy book) by rick richardson. he quotes peter berger who is trying to capture the attitude that most christians have when it comes to witnessing (though it is a mostly dead attitude for those they are trying to speak to) and I think this speaks to what you are saying, brandon. the style of witness is...
a peculiar mixture of arrogance ('i know the truth') and benevolence ('i want to save you') has always been the chief psychological hallmark of missionary activity.
i think one answer, brandon, is that we have to speak truth the same way that nathan the prophet did when he came to king david after his sin with bathsheba and the killing of her husband. he told him a parable that enraged him. story is the key to speaking truth in our day and age. this is hard because it means we have to be creative.

to be honest, i'm not sure that we are called to speak "words that rescue." we should be most concerned to speak the truth (because it does rescue) and trust the holy spirit to do the rescuing. the other thing to remember is that the response of the individual we are speaking cannot always be our barometer for how we've done. if your friend is anything like me...i get defensive and pissed off when my wife calls me on stuff that she sees as potentially dangerous spiritually. it is my fleshly response and i try to get out of her accusation any way i can. but once the holy spirit has had time to burn her words into my heart, if conviction is necessary, it comes.

if your friend is anything like me, she loves her sin very much (because i do mine) and doesn't want to let go of it. if that is the case, then her response is very...well...human.

how do we answer brandon's question, though? it gets at the heart of relationship. i have learned that no relationship can go to the next level until we have conflict and confrontation. how do we do this so that we come out loving the person more and not becoming bitter towards them? how do those of us who are people-pleasers pursue our loved ones when conflict and pain are inevitable?


At 9:25 PM, April 03, 2005, Blogger We Three Spences said...

I believe that if you love someone confrontation is part of that relationship. Accountability...That's what the core of it is. Maybe it is not easy, but it is necessary.
I've been called on thngs...self rose up...The Holy Spirit rose up higher.

At 11:48 AM, April 04, 2005, Blogger Charles said...

I'd go farther than that. I actually welcome being called on my BS. It is the only way to grow. And I think that if you don't call your friends on their BS then that is a sign of disrespect.

At 12:59 PM, April 04, 2005, Blogger Christian said...

I agree with you Charles. I want to be called on my BS too. In theory.

But here's the rub - most of us don't view our BS as crap; we tend to treat it like gospel truth. So when someone points out a problem, how are we ever going to determine whether it's valid or not?

This was actually the whole point of that quote from Blue Like Jazz yesterday - how can we trust ourselves to be impartial when we are clearly biased in our own favor?

Ultimately, we need a standard that is outside ourselves. Jesus claimed to be that standard.

But how do we evaluate that claim if we are biased in favor of ourselves? The only way is by getting to know Jesus, to the point where we trust his diagnosis more than we trust our own.

And how do people get to know Jesus? Through Scripture. That's the only way.

The flip side of the coin is this: how are we as friends going to speak to people who are so biased towards themselves that they don't recognize their BS for what it is?

I think we have to give them that same standard that is outside both of us (not just me giving you my standard and calling it God's standard).

And the manner in which we need to give our prognosis is in love - not conditional love, not unconditional love - but contra-conditional love (love that calls a spade a spade and then says 'but I am right here with you in it, regardless of whether you ever change').

We can learn a lot about how we relate to God by looking at how others relate to us when we have to speak hard truth into their lives...

At 8:21 PM, April 04, 2005, Blogger Charles said...

I mean seriously, if a friend of yours is being sincere in calling you out on BS, and you know them, and they know you, and you totally blow them off instead of engaging in dialogue, then that is on you. I mean who says that you can’t listen to your friends? Isn’t it in your own selfish best interests to be called out on your BS? And if that is true, then can’t we be completely self centered and accept people’s criticism, if the end result I us bettering ourselves?

At 9:05 PM, April 04, 2005, Blogger Christian said...

Hi Charles. You said: "Isn’t it in your own selfish best interests to be called out on your BS?"

I think that's the flaw in your argument. Having your sin pointed out IS in your best interest; but most of the time, we don't agree that what is being pointed out is really BS.

Let me try to put it extremely simply:

- you say: what is truly best for me is to be selfish and follow myself (act in my own self interest)

- Jesus says: what is truly best for me is to die to myself and follow him (Mt 16:24-26)

Now, you cannot both be right; at least one of you is wrong. So how do you decide?

The whole point here is that we tend to disagree with the one confronting us over whether or not the critique amounts to BS. We tend to thing that it is GOOD to love ourselves. Jesus on the other hand calls that BS; he says it is death.

Now if you're like me, you probably don't like that (because our natural tendency is to say Jesus has got it wrong, not me).

So the real issue here is - how are you going to decide who to believe when Jesus disagrees with you? I'd love to hear your answer to this question.

(please note - I'm not trying to call you out or anything like that; I'd be more than happy to discuss this offline if you prefer)

At 10:08 AM, April 05, 2005, Blogger Charles said...

Well, see, I was talking more in general, not in the spiritual sense. And, this can turn into a long discussion. I'm not a Christian, so I would of course believe me over what somebody or some book tells me that Jesus said.

Now, you might see my faith as BS, but it is my faith. I don’t take offense to that, even if it sounds funky, because I know that that is your world view. Is it my faith because I am selfish and don't want to see the truth? That's an honest question, and I'd like to think no, but only time will tell.

Now, I think that you have to get out of your own shoes here for a second. I don't believe in Jesus or have the same faith that you do. Doesn't it seem kind of odd that I would care what Jesus said if I think that he was probably just some dude and not Divine? Meaning, I say X, then you say, but Jesus said Y. If I don't have the same faith as you, then why should I care? This is even assuming that you can convince me that Jesus actually said Y, and that gets into the whole discussion about how we read the Bible, the “infallible” document written by very much fallible people.

So I guess this runs into a question that I was thinking about for a while. Can people be Christian and still believe that as sinners, the authors of the Bible could have been full of BS too? Didn’t Paul say something like “I am Chief among sinners”? So did he just check that sin at the door when writing the Bible? If so, how do we know? Because he, Chief the sinner, said so? If you were me, wouldn’t that sound weird to you?

Isn’t that where faith comes in? You put your faith in the fact that your world view is the right one. How is that different from me, or a Muslim, or a Jew? We are all just going by what we have faith in. What makes any mine better than your or yours better than mine. Well, because what we have faith in, our authorities, if you will, tell us. You know, the whole circular argument stuff.

I think that there is a difference between BS and faith. Faith, you and I can disagree on and have a dialogue about. BS is just BS. See the difference?

At 3:57 PM, April 05, 2005, Blogger Christian said...

Thanks for the response Charles - that was helpful.

There's lots we could probably disagree about here (but that WILL have to wait for beer and cigar ;-) but I'd rather focus on something we both agree on - in that last paragraph, you say "We are all just going by what we have faith in. What makes any mine better than your or yours better than mine."

To which I say precisely - and the question I asked is not, "which one is better" but "how do you decide"

You see, when our positions contradict one another, we cannot both be right. So if you're interested in getting to the truth, somehow you must decide who you're going to believe.

Now most people will say, "I'll listen to both sides of the argument and then make a decision" - I'm actually fine with that, because in order to hear the "other side" a person has to actually listen to the Jesus of Scripture.

But when someone says, "I have my opinion A, you have your opinion !A, and that's fine for both of us"...that to me says they're not really interested in figuring out the truth - they are comfortable with their position whether it is true or not.

And I don't want to be comfortable; I want to find truth.

I have to be able to discern truth before I can discern whether or not something is BS.

At 5:00 PM, April 05, 2005, Blogger Charles said...

Very good points. And it goes back to my original point that it is in our own selfish best interests to be called out on our BS, so we can be selfish and listen, even if that turns us into someone who is not selfish. So, if Christianity is the truth, then we can be selfish and become Christian, but to do so is in and of itself the act of giving up selfishness (or at least trying).


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