the other day i saw this cartoon that someone had posted on facebook that was pretty funny but involved hitler in a way that i knew would be offensive to a lot of jewish people. so i immediately wrote the girl who had posted it an email [more a friend of a friend than a direct friend] and just before i hit the send key i stopped for a moment, reread what i had written and changed it before sending it…
instead of ‘hey friend, you posted a cartoon that is going to hurt people’ or something like that, i started with some relationship [‘hey friend, long time no chat, how are you doing? what you been up to?’] and then i identified with the cartoon and why she had posted it [i find the cartoon really funny but at the same time i think it may be offensive to some people] and then finished off with more relationship and encouragement [‘continue to rock on – you often send along good twitter fun vibes… much love’]
she responded with:
You’re 100% right. Sometimes I don’t think… There’s a fine line between dark humour and plain darkness. I actually had a funny feeling after logging off and needed to come back on FB to delete it. Then I saw your message. Thanks for the mail, thanks for calling me out and gently pointing it out, I really appreciate it.
You rock on too.”]
and i realised i got that one right… and as a bonus victory, later in the week i decided to keep a certain description [of a friend who wrote for my marriage blog series] out of my intro [that she was someone who had always said she’d never be married] because i thought hey, maybe she wouldn’t want me to share that about her publically [she wrote back saying i totally didn’t need to edit it out, but i still think making sure was the right move when there was any kind of doubt]
so yay for double victories… but boo for the knowledge that there have been many [and probably many, many, i am quite old] times when i have not gotten it right.
and ‘but i meant well’ is not good enough for people i hurt by not being as gentle in my calling out as i was with this person…
Truth is important, but Truth-in-Love should be non-negotiable, as a Jesus follower at the very least. And i think that looking back, there have been times where I have shared Truth and possibly even meant Love but not conveyed it well at all. I have hurt people by being too quick to rush to Truth [or my version of it] and too slow to honour Relationship and for this i am deeply sorry. i don’t even know if i can pull a Zacchaeus and go back and find all the people i have wronged and make things right [and i imagine most of them will not be reading what i write here] just because i don’t have a comprehensive list of who they are. what i can do is learn from the two victories of this week and ensure that i follow a more Truth-in-Love stance as my go-to response as the norm.
however, having said all that, let me finish by saying these two things which make it incredibly more complicated and complex:
 there is not enough Truth-in-Love in the church! there is something we mistake as love which is usually born out of a fear of confrontation in any form and so we would rather let our close friends sink in their sin than call them on it, gently in love, and help them become better, stronger people… [Proverbs 27.6 ‘Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.’] Close friends are the ones more likely to be listened to and often i have felt forced to intervene because none of the people who should have been Truthing-in-Love were being good friends… we need to step up more into this.
and  there are times [and these must be so carefully discerned] where the person receiving the correction will not feel loved and that doesn’t mean Love has not happened – and there are times when the rebuke must be strong and times when it must be public… the trick is just figuring out the difference and i imagine the Holy Spirit is key in that – but Jesus publically takes down the pharisees and other leaders on occasion, and paul publically rebukes peter at one time [i believe that public sin often requires public dealing with it – very different to the matthew 18 ‘if your brother sins against you’ way of dealing with things, because the sin has affected so many more people and for their growth they need to be aware of how it was dealt with and that it was dealt with]… i was recently unfriended on facebook for doing this to someone and looking back i still think i did the right thing, but i am not completely convinced i did it in the most loving way, the jury is still out on that one although i did spend a lot of time trying to mend the relationship after that.
so we need to be being good friends to those around us and when someone who calls themselves a Jesus follower displays some behaviour or posts something on a social network that is strongly against the message of following Jesus, we need to have the guts to confront them. but we need to speak Truth-in-Love and always make sure that we have an abundance of Love. we need to [and by ‘we’ i mean ‘i’ and i imagine my wife is going to hurt herself nodding to this one] take longer to respond and be very sure of the Love and manner of response before we send it. we need to make sure we are as vocal and more public in applauding when people get it right…
hopefully that is one mistake i can choose to never make again.