By Zach Goodrow
An interesting phenomenon has gripped the evangelical church in the West. We inherited a robust culture that breathed Christian air, and this allowed for unique ideas to take root. Though the individuals in it were obviously not all Christians, there was a general sense of Judeo-Christian values in the fabric of our nation and others like us. Individual sovereignty, freedom of speech, and the right to life and liberty are all products of Christian thinking because none of those concepts are self-evident apart from Christianity.
There were flaws in our system, of course, but the West provided the most opportunity for the most people to survive and thrive on this bitter and hard planet. Though the culture was robust, it was not invincible and though the opportunities were a miracle, they were not self-sustaining. All the blessings of the West were a byproduct of truth and courage.
A courageous citizen speaks the truth to his neighbors and to his government, including and especially when they disagree with one another. A government that doesn’t tremble with insecurity is a government that can allow the dissent of its citizens.
Which brings me to the verse mentioned in the title. Again, that’s not what the verse says, but that’s what we pretend that it says. It says, “Let each one of you speak the truth to your neighbor, for we are members one of another” (Ephesians 4:25). Clearly, Paul is writing to a church, and we should be cautious when applying commands for church polity to secular institutions because some of the rules are not the same. But telling the truth is not one of those circumstances where the rules change.
Though we are not members of the world in the same way that we are members of the local churches we are apart of, we are members of the human race which needs the truth we possess. We’ve forgotten that. We think the world needs our politeness more than it needs the gospel, so we have slowly conditioned ourselves into evaporating our witness with our politeness.
Somewhere along the way, we traded the uncertain future of speaking the truth for the certain present of comfort and safety. We began to value our paychecks and our status more than our principles and souls, and so now we have a civilization full of shallow people with deep bank accounts.
We’ve convinced ourselves that although Christ went to the cross for telling the truth, he certainly wouldn’t want us to put our livelihoods at stake for speaking truthfully. Surely the God-man who died precisely because he refused to go along with the lie of the day wouldn’t want us to be cancelled because we refuse the lie of ours. Would Jesus really ask us to risk so much for the sake of the truth?
Yes, he would. Yes, he did (Luke 9:23, Luke 14:33, Mark 8:34, Luke 14:27, Matthew 16:24).
We have bowed our heads and bound our tongues in order to keep the peace. Because of our cowardice, we now live in a culture that says men can menstruate and no one knows what a woman is. This is because lies are not neutral forces. They pollute everything they come in contact with if they are not met with the truth, and now we are generation that is swimming in lies. We have claimed wisdom but are desperately foolish. This cultural dissolution is the fault of every believer who knew better, but said nothing as the enemy advanced ever forward with a demonic agenda.
“But you don’t understand, I would’ve lost my job.” Yes, I do. I teach in a public school, and I still talk about and share the gospel with my kids. They know what I believe, but I do not forget that they have the freedom to have their beliefs. I just don’t let them say stupid things without pointing them towards the truth. They are kids. They need someone to stand for what he or she believes in and not just be a parrot of the current ideology. They need someone who doesn’t lie to them. They need the gospel.
I could’ve been fired or cancelled at any point, but that is EXACTLY what Christ meant when he said count the cost before following him. Thankfully, I haven’t been fired yet, and the cancel attempts have been laughed off. I don’t mean to brag when I say these things, but my point is, it is better to speak the truth now when the cost is relatively low than to try and assemble a spine when the cost may be death.
Don’t call a girl a boy. Or vice versa. Don’t say that homosexuality is alright, or any sin for that matter. Don’t ignore Christ’s call to speak the truth in love. We’ve confused Christian kindness with the never ending cry to bow to the culture and forsake our God. Yes, Christians are commanded to be kind. But kindness never means ignoring or sacrificing the truth. We are not kind if we pat someone on the back and say they are fine while they are on the road to damnation.
We’ve allowed niceness and the desire for everyone to just get along to infiltrate our message and still our tongues. Speak the truth. Step on toes, but don’t crush them. The gospel demands we call men, men and women, women. It also proclaims hope for those that don’t know the difference. But how will they call on whom they don’t believe? And how will they believe without hearing? And how will they hear without someone standing for Christ and speaking the truth, regardless of loss of job or status?
I pray we don’t allow our desire for people to like us get in the way of us telling people they are doomed without Jesus. We cannot let people go to hell thinking we are nice people. Christian, speak the truth because we are members of one another.