Tag Archives: Speaking truth

Grace and Truth or Good and Evil?

The Tree of Life

As I am reading through the Old Testament again, I continually wonder why God tells this story of a feckless Israel and one that puts Him in a bad light, seemingly. Even as I write that I think of what I am writing for my grandkids and their children after them, and theirs after them, and so on. I want to be honest and not sugar coat things, but I also am selecting the stories that come to mind and that capture the essence of what shaped me to be who I am today. Is that not what God is doing with the story of the Old Testament?

The Gospels and Epistles make it clear that Jesus Christ is the true representation of God, the revelation sufficient for us in this world’s realm. There are some who interpret our journey as God’s journey of development as well. He started out without a legal code, then gave the legal code to Moses, then realized it was never going to work so sent Himself in the incarnation of Jesus Christ to satisfy that code once and for all and has spent the last 2000+ years encouraging us to accept His gift of mercy and grace in Himself to us.

I am leaning more toward God giving us what we wanted and chose in Adam and Eve, the knowledge of good and evil, rather than eating from the tree of life. Since that was our choice He responded in kind, knowing it would never work, always calling us to relationship with Him outside of that construct, yet always dealing with us within the construct we had chosen; good and evil, right and wrong, Law and consequences.

We still, by nature, choose that way. With or without acknowledging Him we tend toward drawing circles of defined behavior and then go about choosing who is in and who is outside of that circle. Once the circle is drawn judgment is required according to the identified rules of the circle. That can be the current vogue of wokeness and is just as clearly represented in the total rejection of the standards of the “woke” by many conservatives. It always states itself in moral terms; right and wrong, good and evil. In the public discourse in the United States of America these days almost all disagreement is cast in the form of the “other” being disagreeable beyond being merely in disagreement. “They” are wrong and we are right.

God’s revelation of Himself in Jesus Christ is a radically different approach to our partnership together with Him. In Jesus Christ mercy and truth have kissed. Mercy without truth would be meaningless and truth without mercy is too harsh for us to bear. The Old Testament describes for us the clear choice that is still before us every day. Will we choose a quid pro quo existence with God, one in which we are constantly the loser and failing? Or will we choose to live in a relationship with Him that depends on His mercy while He coaches us toward His truth? Honestly, my instinct is toward the former, but my choice is the latter. May the Lord help us all to live in His grace and by so doing offer His grace and mercy to our family, friends and all with whom our lives intersect.

Communication Values

Often businesses will spend months designing a product or service diligently attempting to make sure everything is in tip top shape before introducing it to their customers. More frequently now companies and teams are creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). The idea is to get something that is good with the expectation of improving the design with feedback from customers and users. It makes sense. No matter how good the design is you just don’t know how well something is going to work until you use it. Let’s approach our core values for communication as an MVP. I am landing on these five communication and attitude values. 

  1. Assumption of good will – honoring the “other”
  2. Listen to understand before speaking
  3. Resist the spirit of anger, alienation, division and dismissal so prevalent in much of the current public conversation
  4. Epistemological humility – there is more that I don’t know than I do
  5. Speaking the truth in love – speak up and speak out without demanding acceptance or agreement

Each requires a good deal of fleshing out. I actually started to do that with #1 last week and will continue to share my thoughts more fully around each one. As always, I am interested in your thoughts and reactions. I have my own and don’t pretend that making a commitment to stay within the boundaries of these values with my communication will be easy. I would also love to hear your stories as, together, we work at cancelling our own personal cancel culture.

What Can You Do?

  1. Just listen in by reading, to the conversation if you are interested.
  2. Make a commitment to speaking truth as you see it within the guidelines of the values.
  3. Send examples of blogs, articles, podcasts, and other voices who seem aligned to these values.
  4. Write your own material, if you are inclined that way, and add it this conversation.
  5. Send questions, comments, challenges, etc.

Any or all of the above is fine and will be greatly appreciated.

If you want to stay current with the conversation you can follow the blog or send an email to me (wwlivingston@gmail.com) and I will put you on an email list to receive weekly updates. I have been encouraged by the responses received to date. I remain convinced that the radical fringes on both ends of the spectrum do not represent the heart and soul of the vast majority.