Of Truth Telling and Roller Coasters

by Joe Dallas

The following is a revised excerpt from Joe's book "Speaking of Homosexuality"

When someone you love is in the wrong, then you’re in the dumps. That’s the high price of love.

To love is to long for someone to be safe and happy, and if you’re a believer, you know someone can’t fully be either when they’re outside God’s will. So it hurts if a loved one’s in the wrong place, doing the wrong things, believing falsehoods. From that place of concern, as opportunity and wisdom allow, you speak.

You have to. You’re an ambassador, and ambassadors express the heart and mind of their sender. You’re also a human who sees and feels, designed to communicate those sights and emotions. Refusing to speak, then, means turning your back on your assignment and your humanity.

But speaking, while necessary, doesn’t guarantee the desired result. It’s something you do by faith, and in hope.

You hope what you said will be heard, and that the heart of the hearer will be softened, the mind enlightened, so faith and zeal will rise causing her or him to say, as did Saul of Tarsus, “Lord, what would you have me to do?”

That’s what we hope, and sometimes it happens. Truth is still often received when it’s expressed, prompting a sinner’s conversion or a believer’s correction, or a prodigal’s wake-up call to come home. And what a party we throw when he does!

But for that kind of conversion to happen, truth is required. One simply doesn’t convert from error without knowing what the error is and what needs to be done about it, none of which will happen if we shy away from speaking sound doctrine plainly.

Still, that’s not all that’s required. Free will also comes into play, since truth heard must first be considered by the hearer’s mind, then transferred to the department of the heart for a final Yes or No. That’s where it all gets tricky, because while we can largely control how and when we speak truth, we’ve no control over the free will of the person we spoke it to.

I remember once hearing Pastor Chuck Smith describe a young man he was witnessing to, who said, “Chuck, you’re pushing me!” To which Chuck replied, “I wish I could. I wish I could kick you, in fact, because I’d kick you all the way into the Kingdom! But I can’t.”

So there you are, loving someone, longing for them, even afraid for them, and helpless. Helpless, at least, to force a decision which they and only they can make. So you pray, beseeching the Holy Spirit to do what He does best at such times. Problem is, though you pray and trust, you can’t just put your love on hold while that person decides, which means you can’t turn off the love or the pain. Both of them jerk you around.

That's why, when your heart is bound to someone you’ve spoken truth to, you begin riding a roller coaster up and down as he or she comes close to choosing life, then backs off, then reconsiders, and so on. And while roller coasters are fun for those who decide to ride them voluntarily, you’re strapped into this one whether you like it or not, and it can be a rough trip.

Terrific, too. It’s exciting and even fun as we watch God use what He's given us to speak to further His purposes in someone’s life. This is reminiscent of the experience an elderly woman describes in the Ron Howard film Parenthood. Hearing her grandson argue with his wife about how exhausting the ups and downs of parenting can be, and how he was ready to give, she pops into the room and says:

"When I was 19 Grandpa took me on a roller coaster. Up, down, up down. Oh, what a ride! I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled altogether! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it."

Smart lady. When we say “yes” to being stewards of truth, we board the roller coaster, consenting to the wild ride – the work of studying truth, the tension of speaking it, the joys coming from a positive response, and the grief of a negative one.

All the while we learn, live, and express what God has spoken, rejoicing in the privilege of stewarding it, and the wonder of the fruit it bears. That’s the disciple’s honor: participating in His work in the lives of people we, and He, love.

There are surely worse rides we could be on. No wonder, then, God summed it up so clearly for one of His most potent truth-tellers, Jeremiah:

“He who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully.” (Jeremiah 23:28