As Christians, we struggle with two competing forces: The World and The Word of God.
The world celebrates “getting ahead” by ignoring, discounting or even overthrowing earthly authorities that have been set-up in high places, who are gambling with our money and our livelihoods, and then shrug off the consequences of those decision as corporate, governmental and nonprofit “best practices.”
The Word of God celebrates “getting ahead” by acknowledging that an omniscient, omnipresent, God can’t be placed in a box, that authority is endowed upon men–not by or through men, but by and through that all knowing God–and that faithful service—particularly to people, and institutions, we do not agree with (or even personally like) is the way ahead.
Now, this last part of the Word of God, is demonstrated throughout the Old Testament in multiple books, but most prominently in the book of Daniel. Daniel served four kings (Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius and Cyrus) as well as he could; but, he never abandoned his faithfulness to God, nor did he abandon telling any of the kings the truth about their rule, even when it lead to uncomfortable and life threatening consequences.
This last part is important.
In a conflict, or dispute, in the Church and elsewhere, Christians often begin any conversation with us around conflict resolution or engagement with, “How do we tell the Truth to each other in love?” This is the wrong question for many reasons, but the primary reason is that the question assumes that Christian love and Biblical Truth are somehow mutually exclusive. It also presumes that faithful service can either be rendered with one, but not the other.
Most conflicts in the church won’t result in Believers being thrown into the lion’s den, threatened with death, separated from their families, or even being outright killed. Most unresolved contemporary church conflicts, will result in loss of position, hurt feelings, loss of face and general uncomfortability.
But, this is far below the cost of telling the Truth in love. But this cost can only be paid, if the truth teller is operating in the Holy Spirit and is serving with faithfulness, with their focus on God, rather than having their focus on earthly representation of that authority.
And by the way, if the Christian is serving a secular authority, in an organization, or business, this goes double for them.
The Truth is the Truth. But let’s not mix up the truth of the world around “getting ahead” with the Truth of God’s Word, around being in service to authority.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: firstname.lastname@example.org