The Holy Tension of Truth and Love

In today’s world of Twitter and social networking, I can find myself often overwhelmed with strong and persuasive voices shouting out opposing arguments on any number of topics, from politics to religion. As a person who struggles with people-pleasing and a deep need for black and white answers, I hate all the tension. I have caught myself numerous times quoting Rodney King, who said during the South Central LA riots, “People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?”

I follow several different pastors and authors on Twitter. I occasionally read some of their blogs. Here’s what I’ve noticed: Pastor A tweets some great original thought concerning his interpretation on a particular issue, and moments later Pastor B posts a scathing tweet debunking Pastor A and calling him a heretic.  Then Pastors C through Z get on the band wagon of either Pastor A or B and the rest of the world stares in amazement at how dysfunctional the family of God seems to be.

Because I tend to not take sides for as long as possible, I have always felt a little wimpish, like I wasn’t man enough to choose a side and stick by it. But as I’ve studied the Bible and prayed, and talked with others who I felt were safe to share questions and even doubts, I’ve realized that in most cases, it’s not about choosing sides, but it’s about embracing the holy tension of both/and. The church has been debating over most of these issues for 2000 years, so don’t tell me that we have finally come up with the definitive conclusion because of some pastor’s 140 character tweet!

One of these “holy tensions,” (and there are many) is the tension between truth and love. For some in the church, truth is the bottom line. Without truth, the church would fall into heresy.  They say if we focus on truth, then love will naturally occur. But others focus on love. It’s more important to love people, because when we truly love people, we will tell them the truth, even if it’s uncomfortable or painful.  The problem with this argument is that it’s even an argument to begin with. You see, if we find ourselves debating on whether we should err on the side of truth or the side of love, it’s still error. Right? We need to recognize that we each have personalities that tend to move us toward one side or the other, so if we are debating about this issue, then we are obviously erring too far on one side.

The beauty of the church is that we are diverse and yet we are one in Christ. We don’t have all the answers like some of us would like to think we do. So, for those who find it easy to preach the truth from behind a pulpit, but struggle with having intimate relationships within the church, or for those who love people and enjoy being in close relationships, but fear that telling the truth of the gospel might offend them or harm friendships, my encouragement is to embrace the holy tension of truth and love. Speak the truth and love sacrificially. Follow Christ and allow His Spirit to be the bridge that keeps all this tension holy and filled with grace.