We may have all the right answers, but when we live something, we often change the way we give them. Maybe what we say doesn’t change, but our delivery often does. Maybe our conviction grows stronger and our speech therefore becomes more fierce. More often, however, we become softer. We tread lighter. We know how hard it may be to receive the truth and we are aware of just how complex the situation might be and therefore we deliver it with kid gloves rather than a baseball bat.
I read an article today about Ivan Rusyn, the president of a theological seminary in the Ukraine who mentioned this very thing.
“What does peacemaking mean when your loved ones are dead in a war?… We spoke loudly about peacemaking because we hadn’t paid a price. Ukrainian Christians still believe in forgiveness, but when we speak about it now, we speak very slowly and quietly, because we know how hard it is.”
… Azerbaijan has had a very long conflict with Armenia, and each time I visited Azerbaijan, Azeri people would ask me, ‘What do you think about war?’ I was so quick to give them spiritual answers—that they have to love and forgive, that they have to be peacemakers—because I didn’t know what those things meant. … After Russia attacked us, I realized the theology of peacemaking and pacifism we had been preaching was empty because it was not born in the context of war.”
I guess the real challenge is for us who, because of our knowledge of God’s word, know the answers but haven’t fully experienced it (whatever “it” may be). May we learn to speak slowly and quietly…gently… about the truth. Let us become ever more sensitive to how hard that truth might be even when we haven’t actually experienced how hard it is. Isn’t that all the more reason to tread lightly?
Strong, J. (2016, July/August). keeping the Faith in a Place of War. Bible Study Magazine, pp. 30-32.
Because, seriously – she’s so cute I couldn’t choose just one.