The Unpleasantness of Truth

Truth is not always pleasant. Often it can be quite ugly, or hard to deal with. It can be quite confronting. It can be something we just would rather not deal with at times. Of course living in an age of comfort, ease, and self-satisfaction, any unpleasant truths or news is frowned upon and avoided.

But none of us can afford to go without the truth. Sometimes the most painful truth is the thing we most need. Consider medical truth. If you are afflicted with a deadly cancer, the number one thing you need to hear – regardless of how unpleasant it may be – is the truth about your condition.

No doctor worth his salt would ever withhold valuable information about a possibly fatal condition or illness for fear of upsetting a patient or making him feel bad. He will instead speak the truth about the cancer or whatever, and then offer steps to correct or heal things.

There would be nothing loving about denying medical truth to a patient if that truth can result in a life being saved or real healing taking place. The truth about cancer may never be pleasant, but it is always vital, and must be shared. Not to do so can have disastrous results.

Spiritually speaking this is also the case. We must always speak biblical truth, even when it seems unpalatable and unpleasant to do so. And many spiritual truths are not so nice or so pleasant. The truths about daily dying to self, crucifying our flesh, and carrying our cross are not exactly light and bubbly – but they are fundamental Christian truths nonetheless.

Telling a non-believer he is a sinner headed for future judgment unless he repents and turns from sin and self to Christ will not be seen as very pleasant either – but it is a core biblical truth which all believers are obligated to share. And fellow believers also need to be told the truth, even if it offends or stings.

Paul never shrunk away from telling the truth, even if it was costly to him. He may have lost friendships and alienated others, but truth was always something he never withheld or weakened or watered down. In fact, he got a lot of flak when he shared biblical truth.

In Galatians 4:16 for example Paul says this: “Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?” That always seems to be the case when we stand firm on the Word of God and biblical truth. It will alienate some. It will offend some. It will create enemies with some.

Jesus knew all about this. Wherever he went he stirred things up, caused controversy, made enemies, and got harsh reactions. Indeed, we are often told that the crowds were divided because of his words. It is the nature of truth to do that: either we come to the truth and embrace it, or we reject the truth and flee from it.

Yet today it seems most Christians would rather run a thousand miles away from the truth, than risk getting some opposition and flak for proclaiming it. We have a church full of invertebrates who think that not rocking the boat and not offending anyone is their highest calling.

They are terrified of getting anyone upset, so they will rather keep silent about the things that matter than boldly proclaim truth, regardless of the negative consequences. Jesus had a few things to say about those who refused to speak out.

It is not just the gospel of Jesus Christ that many believers are afraid to publicly express, but so too any words on the vital issues of the day. Our silence on things like the sanctity of life and God’s ideal of marriage and family has been deafening.

Indeed, I am fully convinced that if something like Facebook had been around 70 years ago, there would be plenty of Christians defriending you if you dared to speak out on what the Nazis were doing, or showed pictures of the Holocaust and the death camps – just as today they will defriend you for talking about abortion, and revealing its ugly face.

I know that many Christians do this all the time – they simply don’t like the controversy and big debates. They prefer to live a quiet and peaceful life, and will never deal with these massively important topics. Many will not even share the gospel for fear of offending people or ruffling feathers.

One day we will all stand before our Lord and give an account of our time here on earth. Jesus already warned us about this: “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8-9).

Of course having said all this, I do not for a moment mean to suggest that there is no need for tact, diplomacy, grace and sensitivity when presenting the truth. It goes without saying that we are to “speak the truth in love” as Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:15.

Sure, we must pray for wisdom and guidance as to if and when we speak out. Being careful and wise in how we share truth is of course important. But my point here is a different one: far too many people who call themselves followers of Christ seldom, if ever, speak forth truth.

And with people heading to a lost eternity, babies being slaughtered in the millions, and God’s provision for human sexuality taking a hammering – to name but a few important issues – such silence is morally reprehensible. We will be judged for our silence just as much as for anything we may have said or done.

The church of Jesus Christ needs some Holy Ghost boldness today, and must repent of the sin of men-pleasing and cowardice. Paul prayed for boldness to proclaim the truths of God – we must do so as well.

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9 Replies to “The Unpleasantness of Truth”

  1. Some are braver than others, but courage is something to value and pray for if we lack it. To defriend anyone for speaking what is right if one calls oneself a Christian is not just lack of courage, it is cowardliness.

    The Lord will ask for braver things than to stay friends with truth speakers on facebook. He may not ask evryone to lay down their life for Him, but not being prepared for that can certainy be a hindrence towards even making the simplest step of obedience.
    Gods richest blessings
    Ursula Bennett

  2. I went to a church where the minister would not mention hell as he did not want to make people feel uncomfortable and where I once heard a woman say in a service that sin “is too negative a word”. Apart from that it was quite evangelical.

    Wayne Pelling

  3. The silence is deafening Bill, you are so right, there are very few preaching these truths from the podium. I’m saddened that these big churches have substituted truth for preaching motivational rubbish. They will surely be accountable to God.

    Liz Gee

  4. There is a website I highly recommend as “hard teaching” (John 6:60), on this very subject for those who profess to be Christian. “Who can accept it”, indeed? Author, Tamara Hartzell, writes from a Biblical heart. She does not mince the Truth:

    “It used to be that faithfulness to God
    turned the world upside down.
    Now faithfulness to the world
    is turning Christianity upside down.”

    Monica Craver

  5. Good Morning Bill,
    Just a note to say that I appreciate the work you are doing for the one who said he was, “I am the way, the truth, the life…”.
    I’ve know of you ministry and testimony for many years. I thought it was time to say “G’day” as we seem to be ‘banging on the same drum” in some areas! I’ve just this morning copied your article, “The Unpleasantness of Truth” with the intention, with your approval/permission of course, to post it on our site?
    Keep up the good work.
    Fred & Barbara Grigg

  6. I’m not sure what many pastors/ministers are so afraid of, except perhaps losing “customers”. Some say they feel their core business is evangelising and that those hot-button issues are too political, but I really believe people want to hear the truth about those issues that are making such a negative impact on our society.

    Carolyn Etheredge

  7. Caroline, I believe you are absolutely right. People are looking for answers, those people who are prepared to even look at Christianity. If they are denied the answers if they are not given something that they can throw their whole being behind in all areas of life, they will leave and isn’t that what these ministers you describe are afraid of? Their fear of losing parishioners is producing that which they are afraid of and damages those who were seekers as well. But if the truth, which is hard for us to swallow is spoken in love, true seekers will not leave, but they will grow and be affirmed and confirmed in their faith. It is best for all concerned to look fear in the face while trusting God, acting in faith and thereby defeating fear.
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

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