By PASTOR BRIAN CRAWFORD
“Truth without love is brutality and love without truth is hypocrisy.” – Warren Wiersbe
When thinking about the nature of truth, it is vital that we understand that most truth acknowledged only serves us and others well when it is truth applied.
Nodding in agreement when we’re told that the temperature is 20 degrees below zero is not helpful if we leave the house in a T-shirt and shorts.
“All men are created equal” is a simple truth to acknowledge, but an ineffective truth if it doesn’t lead to all men actually being seen as equals.
Truth acknowledged is only truly acknowledged when it is applied. Jesus embodies this sentiment:
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14
God in the flesh not only declared Himself gracious (truth acknowledged), but actually walked in that grace (truth applied).
However, this truth is not only meant for Jesus. The apostle Paul calls all of Jesus’ followers to a similar embrace:
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” – Ephesians 4:15
Paul’s words are essential but elusive for the Christian in this culture and age. We are in the culture and age of “Facts don’t care about your feelings” and “Baby, I’m simply telling you what God loves, the truth!” In other words, we’re more concerned with the rightness of our words, and not necessarily the righteousness in how they’re stated. However, living in deeper Christian truth requires that we be concerned about both. DEEPER truth requires that we care not just about the facts but about the person who’s receiving them. Grace and truth. Truth in love.
While it is important to be right in our content and our facts, it is just as important that the content leads us to acting rightly toward those around us. As Christians pursuing deeper truth, the question that must always be before us is not simply, do we know the truth, but what is that knowledge doing to us? If the truth we speak doesn’t come with grace and love, then the truth we speak really isn’t true to us.
It’s this posture that we must take into the ongoing work of reconciliation. It is true that we are all created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26); it is true that, through Christ, we are all a part of one body (1 Corinthians 12:27); but what are these truths doing to us? Pursuing deeper truth calls for all of these truths to shape us, transform us, and drive us toward a sacrificial application of them.
More and more as I’ve consumed the content of truth, my life has been reformed with the conduct of truth. Whether fellowshipping and having a tough conversation about race, or serving alongside people who might not look like me, organizations like Mission Mississippi have taught me not just to acknowledge the truth that we’ve been reconciled through Christ but to apply it through ongoing dialogue and activity where we cross the racial and cultural divide.
Even today as I reflect on the weekly morning men’s group that I’m part of, I’m reminded that what makes the group work is not simply the truthful statements that are shared consistently to challenge our thinking, but the commitment to share and receive those statements with patience, grace, love and humility, to change when necessary. The content of truth matched with the conduct of truth is what unlocks the group’s potential to gain meaningful ground in truly living reconciled. Truth acknowledged AND Truth applied.
How about you?
Have the truths of our faith driven you away from the segregated corners of your life into fellowship across racial and ethnic lines? Have the uncomfortable historical and sociological truths concerning race in America stirred in you a commitment to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep? Have any of these truths caused you to stand more boldly in solidarity with your brother and sister in the pursuit of unity and living reconciled?
When we pursue deeper truth, we move from mere acknowledgement of truth to its application; from mere facts to facts dressed in grace; from mere knowledge to knowledge wrapped in love; and from being right while divided to being righteous and united.
Pastor Brian Crawford is a husband, father of two boys, and bivocational lead pastor of the recently launched City Light Church in Vicksburg. Brian and his wife, Candi, are natives and long-time residents of Vicksburg and have a passion to share the love and gospel of Jesus Christ with the city they hold dear. When he isn’t engaged in pastoral ministry, you will find Pastor Brian either working at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, dating his wife, reading books, watching Marvel movies with his boys, watching sports of any kind, or hanging out with his church family.