Faith & Spirituality

Is the Truth Supposed to be Offensive?

Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard this:

A pastor or church leader says something like, “If what I’m saying makes you upset, that’s the Holy Spirit convicting you” or “So-and-so left our church because they didn’t want to hear the truth.”

Sound familiar?

“Truth” is always presented in these scenarios as disagreeable and divisive. It should make you feel uncomfortable and ashamed. It’s medicine that’s supposed to taste bitter going down, or else it isn’t working.

I want to push back on this narrative for any of you who’ve been told this. Don’t believe it. If your gut’s telling you something’s not right, listen.

The primary function of the truth is not to shock, scandalize, and offend. The primary function of the truth is to set us free. To give us rest from the burdens we carry.

Caveats? Of course there are. Embracing the truth in different areas of life is (usually) a lengthy process. Rarely does someone’s life change for the better because their pastor hit them with a truth bomb. And yes, this process usually does involve coming face to face with certain difficult realizations. If you’ve spent serious time and energy deconstructing, “faith shifting”, or critically examining your beliefs for any reason, then you know what I’m talking about! It’s not always pleasant or easy.

But it should yield results that, over time, make you feel freer. Dare I say, happier. More aligned with your values. Like you have less “junk” you’re holding on to, less baggage weighing you down. Notice, I used the word feel for a reason. The process of becoming free will — and should — be reflected in your emotional state! If you’re feeling anxious, burnt out, or weighted down, something other than truth is at work there. Shaming and guilting and laying heavy burdens on us is not the work of the Holy Spirit.

Caveat #2: Don’t let manipulative people trick you into believing false corollaries. “If I tell the truth, I might offend someone” is a fact. “If I’ve offended someone, it means I’ve told them the truth” is not. Not by a long shot. In fact, I’m going to say that if angering and alienating people is your primary method of communicating truth, you may need to reassess your approach.

And by may, I mean definitely.

For the rest of us, be assured that truth is not merely something; it’s Someone. And He is for you — your growth, your freedom, your peace, your joy. He has promised a yoke that is easy; a burden that is light.

Don’t settle for anything less.

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