Speaking the Truth in Love

Speaking the Truth in Love

"Our leaders and pastors are expected to give strong emphasis in our periodicals and from our pulpits to such fundamental biblical truths as will develop the faculty of discrimination between the evil and the good." —Church of the Nazarene 2017-2021 Manual, ¶28.5

The globally unified Nazarene family seeks to speak the truth in love as we share our Christian witness with the world. An example of this in found in our Manual ¶28-35. This Covenant of Christian Conduct reminds us of the critical role spiritual interpretation plays in shaping life together. This covenant does not reflect a series of randomly selected moral statements. Rather, it represents the global Nazarene conscience.

Birthed from the guidance of the Holy Spirit and biblical interpretive strategies, we have adopted these beliefs as we seek to faithfully follow Christ. We must remember this as we engage meaningfully with other believers who use different interpretative lenses.

Furthermore, clergy and laity alike must faithfully continue to study, be open to the illumination and guidance of the Holy Spirit, interpret with Wesleyan-holiness lens, and write and preach on moral issues.

The relativism and diversity within global cultures complicate writing and preaching on moral issues. The easy path invites us to refrain from addressing moral issues so as not to step on toes. However, we must speak to these issues in order to accomplish our critical denominational objectives.1 We must also teach what it means to live out the practical application of our beliefs. Hence, the Manual ¶28.5: “Our leaders and pastors are expected to give strong emphasis in our periodicals and from our pulpits to such fundamental biblical truths as will develop the faculty of discrimination between the evil and the good.”

Some of my life verses come from Psalm 1:

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked 

or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, 

but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, 

and who meditates on his law day and night. 

That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, 

which yields its fruit in season 

and whose leaf does not wither— 

whatever they do prospers. 

Not so the wicked! 

They are like chaff that the wind blows away. 

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, 

nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, 

but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

I learned this Psalm as a child; its truth sunk deeply in my mind and soul. It reminds me of the need to avoid destructive paths. It urges us to develop strategies that recognize and understand the difference between good and evil. It reminds me that good and evil coexist in my world. However, as a child of God, I am called to shun evil and live a holy life. In reading this Psalm, I used to hear the words evil and wickedness only in relation to people who do not profess to be followers of Christ. However, over the years, I have come to know that, if given room, wickedness can also infiltrate the lives of those who profess faith in Christ.

Evil often appears harmless. If we are not firm in our beliefs, the cultural voices around us (intentionally or unintentionally) can suggest that we are on the right path; later we realize that such detours have led us astray from fundamental biblical truth.

God’s truth matters! Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). Jesus implies that when we hold to His teachings, we will know the truth.

To live faithfully as Christlike disciples, we must give attention to biblical truth. “The most basic decision to follow God’s direction makes it possible to be rooted, grounded, and fruitful. The wisdom teacher in Psalm 1 operates from the belief that God created a moral order to life. He has observed that openness to divine instruction brings the possibility for full living. What directs life — how people live — matters. Thus, the poet places before hearers and readers the most basic decision about living. The psalmist’s hope is that readers and hearers will choose life in connection with God and God’s Torah, and so embrace life’s fruitful possibilities.”2

As people living new life in Christ, we must put off the old patterns of conduct as well as the carnal mind and put on a new and holy way of life as well as the mind of Christ.3 The Lord, our God, who saved us from sin and transformed us into the likeness of Christ, continues to work with us. He transforms us, both individually and collectively, to live an alternative way of life in this world where good and evil coexist.

Christ empowers us to live a holy life. “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these, he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:3-4).

2 Peter 1 invites us to deepen our walk with the Lord. This requires spiritual discipline and reminds us that we are on a journey with the Lord. God continuously transforms us in Christlikeness. Thus, teaching and preaching about moral issues is vital for building the body of Christ. We must speak biblical truth in our crazy world that offers confusing moral messages. May God grant us the courage to speak the truth in love to our generation.

Fili Chambo is a general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene.

[1] “The critical objectives of the Church of the Nazarene are ‘holy Christian fellowship, the conversion of sinners, the entire sanctification of believers, their upbuilding in holiness…” Church of the Nazarene Manual 2017 – 2021, 5.

[2] Walter Brueggemann and William H. Bellinger, Jr., Psalms (New Cambridge Bible Commentary), (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014).

[3] Church of the Nazarene Manual 2017 – 2021, ¶28; Ephesians 4:17-24

Holiness Today, Nov/Dec 2019