If we cannot stand for truth without being wrong-headed and coming off like jerks, but we are not comfortable standing down and letting wrong win and being doormats, what are we to do?
The obvious answer is that we must maintain our right-headedness.
That is, of course, easier said than done, especially when the world doesn't seem to be listening to our even-tempered, completely-rational selves as we present a masterful explanation of the truth and rightness and why it matters and how it's better for everyone. Sometimes, the reality is that even being right-headed and reasonable doesn't make the truth win.
So what then?
Well, then, I say, we turn to our witness.
At the end of the day, our witness is the only thing we can really control. We can't control how the world responds to us. We can't force the world to embrace the truth or to give space to what is right. We can't make the world honor our right-headedness or even notice is. The only thing we can control is how we, personally, respond to things. The only thing we can control is how we live in light of what we know to be true and right and good.
That's why, by the way, our wrong-headedness is such a detriment to everything we are trying to do. The world knows it's the only thing we really control, and well, if we can't control even that....
Anyway, we only control our witness. And that means that we present our case, but if it's not accepted, we live it anyway. We live truth anyway. We acknowledge what looks like a loss, but we refuse to accept defeat in our personal lives.
We continue to pursue what we know is right, what we know is true, what we know is good. We live embracing all that we can even in a world that refuses to acknowledge it. We step down or step back, but we never give up or give in. We don't become rude or obnoxious about it. We don't do it wildly out loud so as to put it in everyone's face.
We simply...move on. Living in the truth that we have. Embracing what is good. Standing on what is right.
In doing so, we show that we were right, and honestly, the world takes more notice of something that works out for the best than it does of someone shouting in the streets. The world notices the quiet things a lot more than we think they do, and that's the paradox here - most of us want to shout louder until we are heard, but we have a better witness by living quietly so that we are seen.
The world seems to believe, no matter what, that you can't argue with results. A lot of times, we hear this said most directly when the means are a little questionable, but it works the other way, too - when the means are quiet, simple ways of faith and a gentle living witness, the world will still admit...you can't argue with results.
When the world sees our peace. When it sees our joy. When it sees our successes. When it sees our options. When it sees how things are really going for us because we choose to live in a truth that looks like it was defeated just because, perhaps, it was shouted down, the world can't help but notice and say...okay. I guess it works. I guess that was right.
I dare say that no one has ever been drawn to Jesus because they were told about Him, but only because of the witness lived out in front of them.
The way we live matters.
And that's what I'm thinking about in this season as I think about how many times I haven't been wrong, but I have been wrong-headed. Because all of the rightness in the world isn't doing a thing if my witness is wrong. And when I'm wrong-headed, my witness is wrong.
So that's what I'm working on. (Well, that's one of the things I'm working on.) Because I'm really not a jerk, but if I'm being honest, you wouldn't be wrong sometimes to think that I am.