Speaking the Truth in Love
February 1, 2016—I’m revisiting some of the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Few have written better on the matter of community. I came across his thoughts on speaking the truth in love in community that I find timely. I’ll confess I remain perpetually puzzled at people’s inability to be frank with each other. I spent my formative years growing up in New York City, where they didn’t mince words and more conversations than not tended to be delivered with an in-your-face attitude. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s words are worth considering:
Where Christians live together the time must inevitably come when in some crisis one person will have to declare God’s Word and will to another. It is inconceivable that the things that are of utmost importance to each individual should not be spoken by one another. It is unchristian consciously to deprive another of the one decisive service we can render to him. If we cannot bring ourselves to utter it, we shall have to ask ourselves whether we are not still seeing our brother garbed in his human dignity which we are afraid to tough, and thus forgetting the most important thing, that he, took, no matter how old or highly placed or distinguished he may be, is still a man like us, a sinner in crying need of God’s grace. He has the same great necessities that we have, and needs help, encouragement, and forgiveness as we do.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer concludes:
Why should we be afraid of one another, since both of us have only God to fear? Why should we think that our brother would not understand us, when we understood very well what was meant when someone spoke God’s comfort or God’s admonition to us, perhaps in words that were halting and unskilled? Or do we think there is not a single person in this world that does not need either encouragement or admonition? Why, then, has God bestowed Christian brotherhood upon us?
Israel Galindo is Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning and Director of Online Education at the Columbia Theological Seminary. Formerly, he was Dean at the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. He is the author of the bestseller, The Hidden Lives of Congregations (Alban), Perspectives on Congregational Leadership (Educational Consultants), and A Family Genogram Workbook (Educational Consultants), with Elaine Boomer and Don Reagan.
His books on Christian education include Mastering the Art of Instruction,The Craft of Christian Teaching (Judson), How to be the Best Christian Study Group Leader (Judson), Planning for Christian Education Formation (Chalice), and A Christian Educator’s Book of Lists (S&H), and Theories of Learning for Christian Educators and Theological Faculty.