Before We Take a Stand
When I got called into my college professor’s office on a sunny afternoon, I half expected to get some sort of congratulations or something. I mean, why else would a prof want to see a straight A student privately? Maybe I had just gotten the highest score of the entire college and was going to be awarded a brand-new Mustang?! (A girl can dream.)
You can imagine the emotional whiplash when instead of any sort of congratulations, I got a calm, Bible-verse-strewn, emotionless tongue-lashing for an “immodest” dress I had worn to a formal the weekend before.
Have you ever been smacked across the head with a 2×4 of truth? It feels about as good as a sucker punch to the ribs, quite frankly. Funny thing, the wood-to-skull action didn’t actually change my thinking or affect my actions. In fact, I left that conversation with completely different souvenirs—insecurity, guilt, resentment, and a tinge of rebellion. Was he right in his assessment of my dress? Probably. Did the truth make a difference? Hardly.
Do you know who did make a difference in the way I viewed clothes and the role they played on my body? A wise woman who I knew cared about me a ton. She had taken the time to get to know me, assessed my heart, then came alongside and showed me how my outside image wasn’t really reflecting my inside (heart) the way she knew I’d want it to.
A Little More Love
It’s incredibly sad to me that Christians have become better known for everything we stand against than what we actually stand for. And do you know what the number one thing Jesus followers should be known for? Here’s what He told us:
“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34–35).
Jesus said that love marks us as His followers. Not our rightness, holiness, or firm grasp on the finer points of biblical theology. This truth—that love takes priority—has to shape every other truth that flows from our lips and lives.
We don’t do anyone any favors when we share truth to make a point, to look smart, or to feed our pride. In fact, we don’t have any business sharing truth unless we’re compelled by love—until we can’t keep silent out of love for the people we’re sharing that truth with. Love changes everything.
I am all for truth. Absolutely, undeniably, I believe that absolute truth exists in this world, and we shouldn’t hoard its richness by keeping it to ourselves. But to paraphrase Paul’s famous love chapter (1 Cor. 13), if I can quote apologists, argue with atheists, and verbally spar with the biggest skeptics but don’t love them to pieces, then all my clever words amount to exactly nothing. They don’t matter now, and they won’t matter in eternity. As I inadvertently learned from my college professor, people won’t care what you say unless they know you care.
So as we talk about truth and standing courageously for it, let’s do so from, oh, somewhere near floor level. On our knees is probably the best place. Let’s be the girls loving first and sharing truth in love second. Let’s wash the feet of the people around us—our friends, frenemies, the cool kids, the mean kids, our teachers, rival teams, bus drivers, and custodians. Let’s just love them all—by serving, listening, being kind, and thinking of them as better than ourselves, even when we don’t agree with their thinking. Then, and only then, will we earn the right to share truth and be heard. When we share truth from that posture, it’s the most loving thing we can do.
But the greatest of these is love (1 Cor. 13:13).
By Jessie Minassian