Too often truth is side-stepped to avoid conflict or controversy, yet truth spoken in love makes an eternal difference. The Church is called to truth.
“The church must suffer for speaking the truth, for pointing out sin, for uprooting sin. No one wants to have a sore spot touched, and therefore a society with so many sores twitches when someone has the courage to touch it and say: ‘You have to treat that. You have to get rid of that. Believe in Christ.’” –Oscar A. Romero
While adjusting to life in Africa, a colleague confronted Shellie and I about our method of coping with change. It is common for those going through the stress of transition to manage stress by controlling their environment. He wanted to speak truth and to help us find freedom. He thought Shellie was trying to control too many things, and that insight was correct. But his reasoning for why she was trying to control the environment was not correct.
My brother jokingly refers to me as having OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) because I desire order in life. He jokes about my neatly lined sock drawers and organized closets. My wife, on the other hand, does not need as much order in life. She flows through life much more freely than I do. The reality in Africa was that Shellie tried to control our environment not for her sake, but for mine. I was the one looking for a measure of normalcy on a continent where customs and manners often made everything feel out of control and unmanageable. Shellie was doing her best to provide that normalcy for me at home.
The transition from life in America where things are generally consistent to one in Africa where situations change daily can be profoundly stressful for those accustomed to dependable surroundings. Eventually, I was able to “let go and let God.” Now, I still like my socks in the right place, but I learned the value of trusting God more and controlling my environment less.
I realized through the experience that I am a blessed man. I serve the one true God who loves me and knows my name, no matter where I am. I have a wife who loves me and strives to help me during times of stress and transition. And importantly, I am blessed with colleagues who are willing to speak truth even when the words are not easy to hear.
In “preparing for battle,” Jesus calls his followers into the wilderness to experience more of God and into community where there is strength in numbers. In “sharpening the steel,” believers are called to love God and neighbor, possibly involving some form of suffering. The letter to the church in Pergamum reveals a call to truth.
“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.
“‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’”
Have you compromised faith? Are you finding it easier to “take on” a life with worldly standards and neglecting biblical truth?
Only truth can defeat error. Between 300 and 400 A.D., a Christian church was built in a temple dedicated to a false god. The church called to truth eventually conquered in Pergamum.
Stand firm in faith and live according to truth. The presence of Jesus should be cherished more than compromised. You can stand up for truth with the assurance of entrance into full fellowship with Jesus for eternity.
Small Group Discussion Starters
- Follow-up from previous discussion: Did anyone walk through any hardships this past week? If so, did you maintain a heavenward perspective and stay on the altar, allowing God to complete His good work in you?
- Have you compromised living for Jesus in certain areas of your life? If so, what could you do to reclaim these areas for Him?
- How are you victoriously living in the world but not of the world?
- What are some practical ways to become a disciple-maker and lovingly share the truth of the Bible with neighbors, coworkers, and family?
As a group, hold each other accountable to standing firm in the faith. Pray for God to give you wisdom and boldness in becoming a disciple-maker, sharing the truth with others in your life.