Redemptive, not toxic
So, in a social media conversation with a more liberal friend the other day, he said something about two prominent conservative politicians that impressed me. He said he preferred Dr. Ben Carson among the Republican Presidential candidates because Dr. Carson could speak critical words about someone in a refined and eloquent way. He also complimented Representative Trey Gowdy for the same reason. He said Congressman Gowdy, chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, could verbally rip someone to shreds with language such that the victim would thank him for it in the end. It's good to know there are people skilled at speaking truth without being toxic.
Speaking the truth in love (see Ephesians 4:145, ESV) is becoming more difficult as world systems collide today. The very obvious anti-Christian bias in media brings a badgering, pointed finger to the public square in an effort to illicit verbal bombshells and miscues. Even more, the discourse has shifted. In this environment we're talking about the lives of millions of babies killed, their body parts extracted and sold. Now, 5,000 years of marriage truth is being trashed, the very fibers of civilization being unraveled in the process. Another layer is that the secular system has pulled out all the stops. There are no rules anymore in the public discourse department. They're going for the jugular and we're trying to be the nice guys.
Jesus spoke the truth without being toxic. Notice I didn't say he wasn't angry. There were a few occasions when he called the Pharisees vipers, hypocrites, fools, blind guides, and graves. He turned over the money tables in the temple complex so incensed was he at their thievery. There were occasions when he scolded the twelve because they were so slow to get the drift of his teaching or when they misread what he was trying impress on them. Being angry wasn't the problem. I mean, Scripture advises getting riled up at times----
Be angry and do not sin.
Psalm 4:4 and Ephesians 4:26, ESV
Some today are advocating a redemptive anger, anger that seeks righteous outcomes and moves us to biblically motivated correction. It resists destructive responses like vengeance, retaliation, reprisal, revenge, or even personal satisfaction. This kind of anger is aligned with truth and seeks to implant truth into life at every level, and restore it when truth has been misrepresented. This redemptive anger compels us to speak to the evil intent of this culture, and speak loudly and clearly.
it's a problem too, this kind of speaking. You see, the adversary isn't being nice or redemptive. They are toxic. Today secularism is being driven by the Rules for Radicals, the teaching system of Saul Alinsky, the founder of community organization and the man credited with teaching how to disrupt the status quo. Their tactics are loud, offensive, profane, irreverent, and anti-authoritarian. You've seen them in action in Jefferson, Baltimore, and other locales of explosive cultural tension. They're the ones who incite racial, gender, and life hatred. They are toxic. Extremely so.
The tendency is to fight fire with fire. And, that's when redemptive anger morphs into toxic anger. And, we must remain redemptive if we are to represent Jesus and influence this culture. And, that's a heart issue, again. Jesus said,
Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
Matthew 12:34, ESV
The Apostle Paul added,
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know
how you ought to answer each person.
Colossians 4:6, ESV
These times require courageous, confident, and forthright spokesmen to bring truth to the matters that threaten morality and the peace of the nation. The pulpits of American should be aflame with righteous indignation, or redemptive anger, if you will. But, we must resist the temptation to become toxic, and pray for leaders who can speak truth with eloquence and power.
Easy? Not hardly. It's much easier to leave that stuff to the politicians and hide behind the pulpit while doing counseling with the congregation every Sunday. No, it is not easy. What is more, silence may be even more toxic than our most profane language. You see, there isn't anything redemptive about silence. So, speaking truth with redemptive passion isn't easy. But, two things are certain---
And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Matthew 28:20, ESV
...for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.
Luke 12:12, ESV
Redemptive. Not toxic.