This morning, my three youngest children dressed up for “Decades” day at school (basically, pick a style from a decade, and dress up). The Oldest of the three dressed like a kid from the late 80’s and early 90’s (he pretty much already does all of that on his own, so it wasn’t much of a stretch), but the younger two put on clothes, and hoped for the best. Enter “mean dad,” who couldn’t figure out what they were going through, gave a critique, and then helped them dress the part. The youngest ended up dressing like a kid from the 50’s, while the next one up went for a 90’s grunge (ish) look. I’ll admit, I wasn’t very positive or encouraging, but ultimately, the kids embraced what they wore, and I let them know I did what I did because I cared for them. And they know I do. I’m raising young men who can stand firm and tall, not trying to soften the world for them.
Lately, there’s this trend in Christian media, radio and movies especially, that everything must be positive and encouraging. I look at the life of Jesus, and I don’t see that trend. He called people out of sin, He flipped over tables, He pronounced woes, and He preached the truth, even when nearly everyone abandoned Him. Jesus spoke the truth in Love, as did Peter, James, John, Paul, and the rest of the New Testament authors, and they weren’t necessarily “positive and encouraging” when they did it. We who follow Christ, and in the example of the Apostles and church fathers need to do the same. We’re not here to be “Positive and Encouraging.” We’re told to build up, yes, we’re told to give grace to those who hear, yes, but we’re also called to share the Gospel, which confronts sin outright. Speak the truth, even if it hurts. It is better to have someone dislike us for a time and be with us for eternity in Christ than for them to feel encouraged but never know what Jesus did for them.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says,
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”
(In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.