Try for a moment with me to put yourself back into New Testament times and put yourself into the presence of Jesus and the apostles for a moment. Picture yourself walking around with them one day as Jesus meets with different people, healing some who were hurting, teaching people stories of God, right living and walking by faith. Let’s imagine ourselves in the crowd when Jesus came down from the mountain of transfiguration along with Peter, James and John. Crowds of people are all around. Jesus saw the commotion and asked what was going on. A man told him that he had brought his son to the disciples because he was possessed by a demon and had been for years now. The demon abused him horribly, throwing him into the fire or into a body of water to try to drown him. He had asked the disciples to cast the demon out and they had tried but were unable to do so. He said to Jesus, “If you are able, would you cast the demon out of him.” Jesus said, “If you are able, all things are possible for the one who believes.” The man responded, “I believe, help my unbelief.” Jesus then cast the demon from the boy and brings him healing, fullness and new life. Then the disciples began asking Jesus why they couldn’t cast the demon out of the man. Jesus had already expressed frustration with them saying, “Oh you of little faith. How long am I to be with you?” Jesus then explained to the twelve that such demons could only be cast out by one who prayed.
How would you have reacted to Jesus’ words of frustration with the apostles by challenging them for their little faith? How would you have felt about Jesus correcting the father when he said, “If you are able to cast out the demon?” How about how he dealt with the disciples afterward? Would you have been amazed at how forthrightly he spoke to the people? Would you have wanted to take Jesus aside and explain that he had to be more careful about the feelings of people and not speak so clearly about their flaws? Would you have been bothered by how Jesus dealt with the father who said “If you are able?”
We live in a time when speaking clearly, honestly and boldly is seen as being unkind, inconsiderate and not showing sympathy or compassion. Yet there was never a more compassionate person than Jesus. He loved people more than they would ever comprehend. There has never been anyone else that came close to showing as much care and love for people as Jesus. Yet he spoke boldly, clearly, forthrightly to people all around him. He was the essence of a BOLD TRUTH-TELLER. Think about the fact he spoke clearly to say to the religious leaders “You are hypocrites who bind heavy burdens on others while not lifting even your little finger to help another. You pay tithes of the garden herbs but have omitted the weightier matters of the law, justice, mercy and faith. These you ought to have done without leaving the other undone.” He often challenged his disciples for their fear and lack of faith. He even corrected his mother who loved him dearly.
Is it possible today to disagree with another person, to speak truth to them and still be kind, considerate and loving to the same person? Why have we reached a time in life when we can’t talk about anything on which people disagree without hurting feelings or destroying friendships? If we refuse to even talk about matters we disagree or about things we may be wrong about, how in the world are we to ever learn better about anything. The more we refuse to even discuss anything that we disagree about the more we get stuck in our ignorance and refuse to do any better.
While I don’t enjoy being corrected any more than anyone else, I must admit that I have only learned better about anything by someone being sure enough to disagree with me and talk about the differences. Maybe it is time to take a closer look at the overly sensitive mindset that seems to rule our day. I’m certainly not advocating being unkind, inconsiderate and rude. But Jesus was able to speak truth in love. Surely we can follow Jesus in this way of life as well. I suspect it is time for us to get out of the mindset that we can’t put anyone through the mental anguish of hearing anything that is different from what they already believe. To grow demands examination of our beliefs and the willingness to reexamine and rethink what we believe. Following Jesus is never a bad way to live or think.