I saw the photos of Oklahoma on the news feed this morning. It is a world away from Australia, yet social media seems to reach beyond the Pacific pond and pull us towards a sense of the grief, urgency, frustration and bewilderment that so many people in the stories and pictures seem to be experiencing. A lot like the images and reports that continue to emerge from within Syria. In some small way, we Aussie’s are enabled to connect and sympathise in real-time.
What made the Oklahoma tragedy so pertinent to me this morning, is that it intensified how I understood the words Paul spoke to the church in Ephesus (Eph. 4:11-15):
‘’we will no longer be immature like children…tossed and blown away by every wind of new teaching..Influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like truth. Instead, like Christ, we speak the truth in love’… (NLT)
As I try to comprehend the next step on from my undergraduate academic journey, I cannot help but wonder where we as Christians really are at. It seems too easy to be blown away and tossed about by every wind of new teaching. The magnitude of consequences associated with being blown away and tossed are evident, painful and real. All visually expressed in what we see in Oklahoma at the moment.
I recently read a comment on one of my posts last week that lead to me this conclusion. I don’t have ‘it’ all figured out and that is okay. This is okay because I can see the relevance in Paul’s use of words like ‘immature’ ‘tossed and blown about’. We are not called to uncertainty, we are called to hope in the midst our uncertainity.
Uncertainty brings with it a sense of crushing powerlessness. It can also remind each of us of a deeper sense of meaninglessness, hopelessness or a lack of clear direction. An image that might reflect this is that uncertainty is like a lingering mischievous fog, tempting us to rush ahead into a darkness that has settled down around us.
My response to uncertainty cannot be panic, anxiety or rash decisions. Instead my response must be
‘grateful obedience to the God of promise who summons humanity to place our hope in Him alone’ (Barth Church Dogmatics.IV3.2, paraphrased).
This is what vocation means.
It means ‘not grasping God, but allowing ourselves to be grasped by Him’ (David McGregor, Tabor Adelaide).
If we, ‘like Christ, speak the truth in love’, we are, like Christ, keeping in step with the Spirit.
This means authentic proclamation, bearing witness to the fact that because of the Holy Spirit, ‘Jesus Christ is within us’ (2 Cor.13.5). We can do this confidently, knowing that ‘we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God’ (1 Thess.2:4).
This is an act where ‘deep gladness meets the world’s deep need’ (Palmer ‘Let your life speak’, 2000). It involves the graciousness of God as we enter into participation with the Spirit (2 Pet.), who is always a sure compass, reliably pointing those with ears to hear and eyes to see towards true North; towards fulfilling our vocation.
The theological imperative is this, when I speak truth in love, I must first speak truth to myself in both word and deed.
Choose to seek maturity, by being ‘gentle and patient’ (Paul) in my responses (e.g.: think-before-I-post). Choose to walk in gratitude and hope (humility – Paul).
How do we do this? By deliberately being vulnerable by being open when we disagree with someone. We do this by choosing not to retreat into the passive aggressive reaction of posting memes all over facebook, or lobbing ambiguous tweets, out from under an evangelical bomb shelter, loaded with subtle put downs . We choose to be a truth-teller and truth-seeker.
Like Jesus the Christ, when we choose to work on ‘speaking truth in love’, we ‘live a life worthy of our calling’ (Eph. 4:1-2).
‘Things to do today’, (mrsmendiola.wordpress.com)
‘Wolves in Christian clothing’ (lifeofafemalebiblewarrior.wordpress.com)
‘Catering Churches – fearing of offending’ (realityofchrist.me)