Friday, August 23, 2013

Speaking the Truth In Love

A few minutes ago, Rachel Held Evans asked this on Twitter: 

Do you think it's even possible to "speak the truth in love" to someone you don't actually know & love but to some general, faceless group?

I don't really think it is possible, and I also wondered what it would look like to to combine that idea with the definition/description of love we get in 1 Corinthians 13:4-5. To refresh our memories, it is:

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful...

So, speaking the truth in love is...
  • Speaking the truth patiently.
  • Speaking the truth kindly.
  • Speaking the truth without envy.
  • Speaking the truth without boasting.
  • Speaking the truth without being arrogant about it.
  • Speaking the truth politely.
  • Speaking the truth unselfishly.
  • Speaking the truth good-naturedly.
  • Speaking the truth without resent.

When any of us think or claim to be speaking the truth to someone, is this how it is done? Or is it usually done in the opposite way? How can we be better truth-speakers in love?

Edited to add:

An additional thought I just had is that since Jesus says HE is the truth (John 14:6 6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.), then how do we speak Jesus to others in love? Do we follow the description of love above, or do we beat people over the head?

Friday, August 16, 2013

I Once Was...But Now I've Found... an interview at Tyler Tully's "The Jesus Event"

When Tyler Tully asked if he could interview me for his "I once was...but now I've found..." series, I said sure, but I was a little perplexed as to what the topic could be.  I never had any sort of major moment of conversion that is popular in much of evangelical Christianity and although I left church for a time as a teenager and came back, I never really felt it was that momentous and didn't completely redefine my faith or who I was.  So we came up with the idea of exploring the ecumenical Christian journey I've been on since, well, birth.

Kelly, you were raised in an ecumenical environment, where you were exposed to different flavors of Christian worship and practice. Why were you exposed to that type of cultivation, and what did you enjoy most about it?

I was exposed to ecumenism because my parents had always gone to different churches and that didn’t stop when they got married.  My dad was Catholic and my mom was Protestant (United Church of Christ).  I guess they wanted us to be able to go to both rather than picking one.  I was even baptized in both of them–on the same day!  I can’t say that as a child I enjoyed anything about it; it was more of an annoyance to often go to both churches every week (Saturday night Catholic mass and Sunday morning Protestant church service) but as an adult I have greatly appreciated it because it helped me to understand from an early age that no one denomination is perfect or right about everything.  I do remember as a child that when we would say the Lord’s Prayer, I would recite it the opposite way of the church I was in (the versions were slightly different) and when we would recite the Nicene creed in the Catholic church, I wouldn’t say the line about believing in one holy catholic church, because to me, I went to two churches that were equally valid.  I didn’t know then that catholic in that context meant universal.

To read the rest of the interview, in which Tyler asks me about church shopping, modesty culture, college ministry, and the future of the church, please visit "The Jesus Event".

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Worth Reading Wednesday: Millenials Edition

Millenials (I am not one; I'm in Generation X) have been a big topic on the Internet lately, so I've compiled a list of some of the articles/posts I've read.  There have been way more written than I've compiled here, so if you've read a good one I've missed, please add it in the comments.  

The One That Started it All:

A Variety of Responses:

Millenials Have Kids by Mandy Meisenheimer

Why We Left the Church by Micah J. Murray

Why Millenials Need the Church by Rachel Held Evans

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Toning it Down (Part II about tone)

This is the second part in a series about tone.  You can read the first part of this series here.
I learned that the right thing said in the wrong way is the wrong thing.  --Brad Lomenick, The Catalyst Leader
A while ago, in a private Facebook group to which I belong, I had a conversation with two women I know pretty much only through that group.  The topic was safe places on blogs, blog comments, anger, abuse, etc.  It was a fairly fluid conversation.  One of the women I was a little familiar with before this group, and the other not at all.  Prior to this group and conversation, my impression of one was semi-negative, due to the tone that I had sensed from reading at her website. 

During part of the conversation, there was some disagreement between people, but I noticed that it was always done in a respectful and caring way.  Nobody's anger got the better of them.  There were no temper-tantrums or fights.  It was peaceful, loving disagreement, and there was more to it, too.  In part of the conversation, I commented to one person that "When I periodically read [your website], I didn't really care for it. BUT, I have really, really appreciated getting to know you in this group and knowing more the *person* you are rather than the you as [your website]."  I was really scared to say that, because I didn't want to come across as criticizing her or the tone of her website, and I didn't want to come across as having some kind of arrogant or superior tone in saying it.  

What I learned from participating in this group and conversation was that I had probably pre-judged her without really realizing what I was doing.  I didn't know her past.  I didn't know her present either, really.  I just formed an opinion from what I read online, much of it due to tone, and assumed I had her figured out.  But I didn't.  

Throughout the conversation, we engaged with each other and learned about each other and listened to each other. 

And at the end, I was sitting at my computer with a smile on my face, and I felt like we should have a big group hug.  

The conversation stood out to me because there is so much negativity online and it's very easy to dismiss people when we dislike them, think we dislike them, or make assumptions about them or their writing.  And that is exactly what didn't happen in this conversation.  

I'm not sure why in some places--yes, even Christian ones--the conversations turn towards anger and disdain and in some places, like this example of mine, they don't.  Perhaps it was just that in that particular moment in time, we all were willing to set aside our own potential agendas or pronouncements or egos and just listen to what each other had to say.  We didn't use angry or rude or sarcastic tones with each other.  

I believe that part of the reason this conversation worked so well was because we were not using angry or dismissive tones with each other.   I know that if we had, I would not have been as willing to listen.  Maybe that is a fault on my part.  Maybe I should be willing to dismiss tone.  But when I think about it and how I want to present myself, I know that tone is important to me.  I hope that I don't ever default to writing in an angry tone, because for me, as a reader and writer, I find that the message is not as well-received.  I still believe tone shouldn't be dismissed as unimportant, because it does have an effect.  But we can all try a little harder to think of the whole person behind the writing--as I have to often remind myself to do.  

In that conversation, some of the fruits of the spirit that I wrote about in the first part of this series, were present in all of us.  We were loving toward each other.  We were patient with each other.  We were kind and gentle with each other.  We utilized self-control.  

I can't explain it, but the way our conversation went made me believe it was one of healing, redemption, and understanding.  It made me realize that although we were in different physical locations around the country, we were still in one place together, and it reminded me of Jesus' words in Matthew 18:20 "For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them."  Whatever our backgrounds, whatever our present lives are like, whatever our theological or political thoughts are, whatever our futures hold, in that moment in time, Jesus was present with us.  And that, I think, is what all of us in this Christian blogosphere should keep at the forefront of our minds and hearts.  Is Jesus present when we are gathered together this way, or not?