Truth: How do we use it?

As a Christian I strongly believe in Truth!  I believe Gods word is absolute truth.  At the same time I have observed what I see as an abuse of truth in many Christians. 

I believe this abuse of truth falls into one of 2 categories.  The first is when we use truth to gain power over another person or another group. Basically, we use truth see ourselves as better than another person or group. 

The other is when we use truth as a shield.  This kind of TRUTH abuse is when we like to talk about truth but we do not use it to get “wooden” with our own sins, thoughts, and feelings. We talk truth as a way of avoiding discussing uncomfortable thoughts and feelings about ourselves.  We use truth as  a very clever way of changing the subject so we do not have to look at our own sin.

So what does this look like in reality.  Years ago, my wife and I sat down with a couple we were good friends with.  This couple was struggling with some issues the husband was struggling with.  One of the things we knew about this couple was that this couple had  very black and white, all or nothing, legalistic way of thinking. This was especially true of the wife…. but also true of him.  This couple was at their best when they could look out their windows and talk about how BAD other people were and how BAD other groups were.  Well , what do you think occurs when legalistic, black or white thinking finally meets the sin inside the walls of a marriage instead of outside the walls of the marriage,,,, well, you get FIREWORKS!  I vividly remember when we sat down with them and  her strong and incorrect use of  the word “TRUTH!” at her husband as a way of belittling her husband.  She was using TRUTH as a form of a power play.   Oddly, right before she did this she told us how she was calm she was because she had the “fruit of the spirit” working in her.  As she said this her body language was anything except full of the fruit of the spirit.  This was her way of using truth as a shield to deflect everything away from her.  In one conversation with this couple they had used TRUTH both as a shield and as a power play.

Well, anyhow, I believe the question that deserves some thought today is this:

How have we used our faith and religion as either a shield or as a power play?

 

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Truth: How do we use it?

  1. centralityofthegospel Post author

    So one of things my wife and I do as we work with couples with struggling Marriages is we try to have a conversation with others and pause on the thoughts and feelings being presented before us. Rather than talking about Gods truth we are applying Gods truth to the conversation.

    If we apply truth rather than discuss truth God seems to show up and work

  2. Renee Miller

    I am guilty on both counts and it seems to come naturally. With prayer and God’s help I hope to do better.

  3. Leah Ness

    Well I’m convicted. I now realize that I use truth as a shield to deflect, or as a measuring stick for anybody but myself. As I think on it now, I very often hide from conviction by discussing how much other people sin. That quote in the comment above about applying truth rather than discussing it hit me right between the eyes. I really needed to read this, thank you so much for sharing it!

  4. Heather

    The shield and power play (hammer?) analogy are good.

    How have we used our faith and religion as either a shield or as a power play?

    I appreciate your invitation to assess our own faults as part of a larger group rather than asking for examples of this we’ve seen…The second option tends to encourage people to start smacking other people over the head with “truth”…

    At any rate, I know I’ve done my share of hammering others while shielding myself.

    In a more specific context, it is very easy to start judging people on the basis of truth that has been revealed to me (for my own personal growth), yet has not been revealed to them in the same capacity. For instance, most Christians would probably agree with Paul’s general guiding principle to think on the things that are true, honest, just, pure etc. Of course, we need to be focusing our attention on the kinds of things which will encourage overall godliness in attitude and action.
    However, individual applications can look vastly different.
    I was convicted several years ago about many of the movies we had in our video library. Some Christians may have considered the resulting purge to be overkill as there were only a couple of R rated movies, and most of the rest of the stuff that got tossed had mild/moderate violence, very little raw language and next to zero sexual reference. Other Christians who avoid watching any movies would probably say we didn’t finish the job.

    Back to your point: We now hold a pretty strict standard about what types of dvd’s we bring into our home. And it can be tempting to get preachy about the standards of others based on how we have applied Paul’s instruction.
    On the other hand, if someone happened to pose a legitimate question about a particular movie we have, it can also be tempting to hide behind passages that speak of “matters of conscience” or “do not judge” rather than honestly ask myself if it really does match our new standard.

    Similarly, I’ve struggled in areas such as : “we” (very conservative) Christians often will get all worried about the spiritual health of the *other* guy who drinks a glass of wine every evening…even while *I* frequently indulge in a huge private stash of chocolate or consistently overeat at the monthly church potluck. Because, you know, drunkenness is expressly forbidden, and it’s pretty hard to find a direct reference to “overeating” …Yet, all the while, *I* am conveniently ignoring that self control is the underlying “truth” principle which governs what we put in our mouths. And, the areas of self control we personally emphasize will look different for different people, depending on specific weaknesses.

    This got much longer than I intended, and I’m not sure if it directly speaks to your question, but it’s where my mind went after reading it.

    Oh, I also wanted to let you know that I’m blogging at a new address, so the link you have on your sidebar probably doesn’t work anymore. If you ever have time to drop in these days, you can now visit me at
    http://sparrowsingsweetly.wordpress.com/

  5. centralityofthegospel Post author

    So one of the things I do is I work with men that are struggling with various issues. Many of them come from very loving Christian homes and they seemingly look like the perfect home to grow up in. I would not characterize their families as completely legalistic or that their parents completely misused truth as a power play. I think I might have chosen a less grandiose word for “power play” now that I think about it if I rewrote the BLOG

    But I do believe the patters of their current relationship behaviors/problems often have roots in how they did relationships in their family of origin.

    Here is how I think this might work.

    Billy boy goes to mom and says Mom I have a problem. This kid at school has been doing XYZ behavior and it frightens me. Mom says well Billy Boy I want you to be a man of integrity and righteousness before God that always does the right thing. –A little more talking about Billy Boys behavior and responses goes on.– Mom ends with “Now Billy Boy what would Jesus Do?”

    So on the surface this seems like a pretty good conversation from the Mom. I think all those responses are actually pretty good… but what is missing?

    Well … all the response are completely about Billy Boys behaviors. Not once did the mom go deeper and validate Billy Boys fears and thoughts about his fears. And then on top of everything else she set an expectation about Billy Boys behaviors of Billy being righteous. This expectation is confirmed and reconfirmed many times by the mother on lots of other issues. Well ….The next time Billy Boy is NOT perfectly righteous Billy Boy is likely to hide his behavior! Billy Boy might even do this for many years. This is a subtle form of how truth gets abused, It completely stays on the behavioral level of conversation and often never goes deeper. Too much talking about truth and not enough applying Truth,

    The men I work with often have high spiritual IQs but they often have lower emotional IQs (as did I for many years). In recent years I have started to equate spiritual and emotional maturity. We really can not have spiritual maturity without having emotional maturity as well, IMO. When we apply truth and apply grace and mercy and actually have a conversation about our sin, thoughts, and feelings we grow spiritually and emotionally. When we keep it at the behavioral level we learn to hide our sin, thoughts, and feelings.

    So new question. How can truth be used to grow our emotional maturity?

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