“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
(Cross-references: John 4:1-42; John 3:1-15)

Who doesn’t want to be liked? This is how insecure I am in any social setting: I walk into a room and immediately I feel the need to say the right thing, to crack the right joke, to be dressed the right way so that every single person in that room likes me – or at the very least, the people who matter the most to me. I think I’m not alone in this. Everyone wants to be liked. That’s just human nature, isn’t it?

What are we to do then with the fact that we are called to tell this world harsh & unlikeable truths – like hell and damnation, sin and suffering? How do we strike a balance between telling the truth and being likeable or loving towards others? Is there even a balance to be found?

The most loving thing to do is to tell the truth. I suppose if I had a terminal illness and had only a little time to live, I would consider it a great injustice if my doctor, especially if he’s my friend, didn’t tell me that. It would be unpleasant, even unwelcome news, but it would be the truth.

To withhold the truth would be to put greater value on my comfort and emotional ease than on the state of the world around me that is out of step with reality – for isn’t that ultimately what truth is, Reality?

Truth is the representation of things as they are.

The hard truth is that people really are going to hell, children really are being sold into slavery into the sex trade, and people really aren’t born gay (we’re all born with warped lust issues).

Yet there are also those who handle the truth like a mallet, bopping people over the head with it rather than offering it with compassion and humility on a plate of gentleness. So, once again, we have to turn to Jesus and see how He did it. How did He speak the truth in love? How did He stay true to people while managing to draw them to Himself — the Way, the Truth, and the Life?

He did it without compromising the truth while extending a hand of invitation to others – like the immoral Samaritan woman and like the Pharisee Nicodemus. Both of them encountered the Divine Truth Himself and yet came away from that meeting changed. Jesus held on to the truth and spoke it out – that all who worship God must worship in spirit and in truth, and that to enter the kingdom of God we must be born again. But Jesus also held out a hand of invitation to intimacy, to a relationship with Him. No judgment, just truth.

We all want to be liked. But Jesus, although he was disliked by many to the point of being hung on the cross, was also deeply loved by those He often spoke the harshest truths to.

I think there’s definitely something to be learned in that.

 

Writer’s Bio: Germaine Santos-Cochran was a 26-year full-time staff with Philippine Campus Crusade for Christ. She is currently figuring out what it means to be a full-time wife in a foreign country.