Call ‘em like I see ‘em
Pastor Ryan - February 12, 2024
I think we all know someone who has spoken a word to another in a hurtful way. Then the hurt given is excused because it was spoken in love. Maybe we have received such “insight.” Maybe we have given such words. It doesn’t work. That is, the words, even if they are perfectly accurate, seldom are heard in a way that they are received and the person who heard them edified. Instead, the words cut deep. They hurt. They are sinful.
We can tell the truth in abusive ways. We can beat people up with the truth. When we do that, are we really concerned with the truth? No. We value ourselves. Our ability to call another out. Or maybe we want to feel superior for seeing another person’s shortcomings. By rightly naming the fault of another we feel empowered, and we can clothe ourselves as helpful mentors. Or, maybe, we are just calling ‘em like we see ‘em. What is the real goal? Are we trying to marginalize the person in the eyes of others? Are we trying to beat the person up, or punish them? Are we trying to get applause from other people because we’re being so hard on them?
To call a person out in order to get power and status for ourselves is abuse. This is one of the main objections non-Christians have about Christianity. That we say we have a truth and then proceed to beat people with it. We’ve all seen someone who regularly attacks and belittles another, calling them names, or calling them out. This isn’t to help another person; it is self-serving. This, plainly, is sin on display. They lack the self-reflection necessary for a Christian life. The irony is that they may be perfectly accurate in their assessment, but their execution creates just as much sin as they would expose. Jesus said as much, too.
Jesus said (Matthews 23: 2-7) that the Pharisees used the Law to get the best seats, the high places, the ostentatious respect in public. They used the truth of the Law to keep people down. The Pharisees knew the truth, but they used it like a club. They attacked others for not knowing what was right. This is exactly what the world has said about Christians. Those who don’t like Christianity complain about this very problem. That we call others out and attack them with what we think is right.
The truth of God is something we do to delight God. It’s something we love because we are loved. Our received grace is our identity. Our lives reflect that free gift. We live as Christians with Christ’s Truth because we want to please God. Not because of some imperative. Our value is from the love of God, and we love His (the) Truth.
If we get our value from being right, or possessing the truth, then we can inflate our value, as “the Truth” holders. That’s when Christians start calling others out. When we value truth over the love our Lord has given us, we stop seeing the good and only see what’s wrong. We turn truth into an idol. Serving it and forcing others to as well.
This is why when a person comes to our community, we can tolerate their behavior. They are learning. They are not learning how to act but what was given. It takes time to understand what we have received in Christ but when one finally understands what we have received that’s when the heart is melted. That’s when the Holy Spirit takes hold. That’s when a life in Christ stops being about what must I do to have heaven and turns into I know who and whose I am. When we understand the profound meaning of grace all the “what must I do” or “what is allowed” falls away because nothing compares to what Christ has already done.