At the close of my preaching last Sunday I was asked a great question. I had been speaking on the gospel requirement for peace and unity in the church. It is a requirement because the Gospel brings peace with God to all who put their trust in Jesus to follow him. And if we all have peace with God, we must be at peace with one another. Ephesians uses another word alongside peace, that is, unity. All that we do must promote peace and unity in the body of Christ. We are to… maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph 4:3)
The question was, if we are to pursue peace and unity as a priority, does this mean ‘peace at any cost’? And of course the answer is an emphatic NO. It can only ever be peace based on the truth, based on the Scripture, the message of the Apostles and Prophets. Anything less than this will fall short of the peace that comes from God.
A little further down in Ephesians 4:15 the Apostle commands us… Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.
This, of course, addresses the question of how we are to maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. We are to speak the truth, in love.
Truth refers to the content of our speaking. Love refers to the manner and the goal and purpose of our speaking. This should govern our conversation, our teaching and all our relationships. Indeed, we should be known as those who speak the truth in love. It should shape the way we speak to our spouses, our children and their children, our employers and employees, our friends, and acquaintances.
To speak the truth in love means that we will speak only the truth and only for the purpose of the other’s good. This is a tricky balance, and it is so easy to fall of either side of the proverbial horse. Some of us find it easy to tell the truth but we can use the truth to hurt. Others of us are so afraid of hurting, or being hurt, that we fall short of the truth.
This command, to speak the truth in love, will govern our witness and our evangelism. We tell the gospel truth, which may or may not be well received. Nevertheless, our speech is to be full of grace and seasoned with salt, so as to win them to Christ, not to win the argument. The power of the Gospel is lies in both the truth, but also in the love of those who speak it. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34)
This much is certain. If we do this, if we are characterised as those who speak the truth in love to one another, then those who are called by God will be drawn to Christ in us, the body of Christ. And this will be our testimony to this city.
Bruce Morrison / Senior Minister
St John’s Anglican Cathedral, Parramatta
PRAY: Pray that, as a church, our speech would be full of grace and seasoned with salt, so as to win others to Christ. Pray that we would be a church characterised as those who speak the truth in love, and that those who are called by God would be drawn to Christ in us.
Join us this Sunday for our Sunday services. We meet at 8am, 9:30am, 11am and 5pm at the Cathedral – and online at 9:30am. Check out out Sunday services page for more information on our face-to-face services.