Continuing from last week where I tried to pinpoint a personal characteristic, namely my ‘gift’ for making others slightly uncomfortable when I hold forth on deeply significant topics. For example, in my opinion, most evangelicals would reject blatant ‘decisionism’, yet it seems that we are usually relatively untroubled by those who show very little evidence of regeneration. There! Did I manage to express that opinion without the undercurrent of judgement that often gets smuggled in? Is that powerful but gracious? I hope it might be, so maybe these musings are paying off!
I dare to hope when I’m talking that the point I’m making is usually a nugget of significant truth. It’s something about the mode of expression that sabotages it. Perhaps in words chosen, or voice tone, or body language. Or all the above. So the problem can be subtle. Though the discomfort I engender may not be so subtle.
I have wondered how much it matters that others feel discomfort when I deliver what I see as the truth. For example, when Jesus used a whip to drive shysters out of the temple, he wasn’t concerned about their anger. So apparently, this is sometimes the appropriate way to deal with error and ignorance. Powerful, but not so gracious. But this response is unusual, it’s not normative. So yes, usually it does matter that the way I express myself causes some uneasiness.
I wonder too about those who have championed great causes. For example William Wilberforce. Clearly a man with a passion, who aroused opposition. But was the opposition due more to his message, or the way he expressed himself? I listened to one of his speeches, and concluded it was definitely the message, not the delivery.
I’ve come to a couple of conclusions. But this is getting a little lengthy, so watch this space for this theme to be wrapped up next week!