Wednesday, March 13, 2024

God of Good Friends

Who is allowed to speak into your life? 

God, of course. But who else? Do you have some close friends who can speak hard things to you and actually get the message through? 

This is something that the church really struggles with, especially in the world that we live in today when the general public is not as receptive to the Word of God as it used to be. In fact, the world is almost hostile to it. 

Yet, this change in the culture around us hasn't much changed our approach to spreading the message of God. We go out and proclaim God's truth, as though anyone reasonable who might hear it ought to automatically respond in rejoicing and graciousness. We watch the headlines and see the sins of the world, and we step out and condemn them. We speak truth, but it doesn't seem to do any good any more. 

And why not? 

Because we don't have the relationship with those we are speaking to that we need. 

David was a man after God's own heart, but he was also a sinner. Just like the rest of us. In one of his most famous sins, he sees a woman bathing from his rooftop (while he ought to be out on the battlefield leading the troops, mind you), and he decides he has to have her. He sends for her, sleeps with her, gets her pregnant, and then, to cover his tracks, he has her husband killed in battle. (And that wasn't easy because her husband was a genuinely good guy, and it was hard to separate him from the rest of the troops. So, in fact, many men died that day for no other reason than that David sought to kill Uriah.) 

There is no shortage of persons who could have spoken - correctly - the truth about this moral failure. I can hear you right now: "That is wrong." And of course, it is wrong. Overwhelmingly, we, as human beings, recognize that. 

So the question is not whether we can speak truth; we know we can. The question is whether anyone will hear us if we do. 

David would not have heard just anyone who chose to speak that truth to him. He might have heard their words with his ears, but he would not have had "ears to listen," as the Bible often puts it. It required someone in relationship with him, someone he trusted, someone with whom he had already had many conversations and whose voice and inflection he could really distinguish. It required someone with whom he was already so intimately familiar that this person had the right to speak a hard truth to David - it's that right, that earned trust, that established relationship, that lets David actually hear. 

Such is Nathan. 

This is why our truth is failing in the world. It's not because the world doesn't believe in truth any more, although that certainly doesn't help. The biggest problem with have with truth is that we are not first good friends. We are not first relationally invested in the world. We have not established that intimate familiarity that gives us the right to speak the hard truths. Just having the truth doesn't give us the right to be heard; we have to do the hard work of building the trust. 

We have to be good friends first. That's how God sends His truth into the world. 

God sends the truth through friends. (2 Samuel 12) 

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