Written by Steven Liechty
"So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another…Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up." - Ephesians 4:25-32
In every church, there are bound to be deeply-held disagreements between people. There are bound to be people whose contributions in Bible study make us wonder if they had woken up intending to go to a different church entirely. There are bound to be people who, when we see their name on the agenda for Church Council, our initial instinct is to cry out "How long O Lord?!"
But the great thing about church—the thing church does better than any institution I know—is that the church does not allow us the exclusive company of those we find agreeable and charming.
To be a member of a church means worshipping alongside people we would not think to invite to a dinner party. To be a member of a church means serving on committees with people whose politics we find abhorrent. To be a member of a church means living in beloved community with people who drive us up a wall.
Be honest with one another, but only if it builds people up? When we earnestly disagree with someone, that is a tough balancing act to pull off. It's balance-an-egg-on-the-skinny-end tough. But even so, it is a critical part of Christian discipleship. Because if I tear someone down just because they disagree with me—even if what I said was true—it is nothing more than evil talk.
God help me to speak the truth in love every day. Because You know, O God, that I must annoy the dickens out of some people myself.
John Edgerton is Associate Pastor at Old South Church in Boston, Massachusetts.