I‘m just a stay-at-home-mum now, you know, easily dismissed by many of the theological heavy-weights (maybe you?). I have three tinies here, three little scraps of humanity, that I am raising to live out the big verbs like forgiving and giving and sacrificing and loving and fighting and then the big nouns like family and marriage and intimacy and justice and mercy and faithfulness and joy. Half the time I wonder if I’m raising them or they are raising me because this – motherhood – is the greatest crucible and gift of my life so far.

So I find myself returning to the basics these days, the things I had “outgrown,” with new eyes, with humility to learn.

And you never outgrow the truth, do you?

In our family, we (repeatedly!) say things like:

Calm your heart.

Guard your gates. 

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.

We don’t (insert random offense) in this family. 

And, of course, the one that I say to the squabbles and anger, misunderstandings and frustrations, the lashing out:

We use our words to love each other.

It’s funny, isn’t it, that the lessons we learn from our mothers, from our fathers, from our families or other role models are the ones we most need as adults? We complicate things so much. Really, it’s pretty simple. Eat good food, get plenty of sleep, play outside lots and use your words to love each other.

Even beyond politics, religion and parenting, beyond the bigness of our world and its problems, to the smallest, most intimate of relationships, it is always powerful and life-giving to use your words to love each other.

Maybe it’s simple but maybe it starts that small. Maybe it starts with using our words – spoken, written, blogged, tweeted, facebooked, pamphlet-ed, sermon noted – to love each other, even The Other whether that is the theological  or political or parental or philosophical other. 

Maybe it’s true

We weren’t called to a ministry of exposing false teachers. 
We weren’t called to a ministry of pointing out where everyone else is wrong. 
We weren’t called to a ministry of critical thinking or criticism. 
We weren’t called to a ministry of I’m-right-and-you’re-wrong. 
We weren’t called to a ministry of correct doctrine even.

No, we are called to be a People of Love.

It means that we speak the words of the Kingdom, our voices and lives singing the song of reconciliation. Reconciled to God, reconciled to each other, reconciled to all humanity, the earth and its fullness, reconciled even to our true selves.

We are the people that speak out and live and move and breathe in the words of Paul:

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle…  Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody … Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” (excerpted from Romans 12:9-12)

Maybe you do think I’m a heretic (you wouldn’t be alone). 

Maybe I think you’re wrong about predestination (I wouldn’t be alone). 

Let us, my brother, my sister, my other, use our words to love each other.

My contribution to Rachel Held Evans’ Rally to Restore Unity synchroblog.

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  • Callie

    Thank you for this. It gave me goosebumps. I’m going to be rereading this again several times.

  • Madelyn

    Yes, thank you for this! I work in a place where I have plenty of opportunities to practice using my words to love–I should probably have this tattooed on my retinas…or on my heart.

  • “singing the song of reconciliation.” Oh, precious sister, my heart sings along with you. Let us always, always have that word on our hearts and on our lips. Thank you for this, friend. Thank you.

  • One of the very first passages I memorized: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may give grace those who hear.” But “We use our words to love each other” is definitely easier to remember. 🙂

  • We weren’t called to a ministry of exposing false teachers. –
    We are definitely called to Love one another with our actions and words but sometimes that will be pointing out false doctrine or teaching. That is love to the young Christian who wouldn’t know otherwise, or to the vulnerable Christian who is blown about by every wind of doctrine. We use our words to love one another but that wouldn’t always be confirming the other person in what they are doing. Sometimes it will be but not always. Sometimes, God will call us to speak out against wrong, sin and injustice.

    Jesus spoke out against false teaching and so do the writers of the Epistles in the Bible. They still loved with the Love of God in a deep and intense way.

    We weren’t called to a ministry of pointing out where everyone else is wrong. –
    Yes and no. If what is being taught is anti-Jesus and His word then yes we are.

    We weren’t called to a ministry of critical thinking or criticism. –
    Never a ministry of criticism but sometimes Christians will be called to have critical thinking in the way of thinking things through Biblically.

    We weren’t called to a ministry of I’m-right-and-you’re-wrong. –
    Not for our pet doctrines no but when Christians are teaching wrong then we are.

    We weren’t called to a ministry of correct doctrine even. –
    That would again depend on the doctrine being taught. I believe God has put some teachings as things that cannot be changed and others that are negotiable amongst believers.

    2 Timothy 3 14ff says: “14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom [1] you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God [2] may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

    So I would say that whatever we say whether in agreement or disagreement we say it in Love.

  • Brenda

    Love this! Especially in this time – it’s a much-needed reminder.

  • yes. this is my heart, too. so well said, sarah.

    meditating on unity this week had me thinking much about parenting and modeling love. we’ve been working on positively-framed house rules, and “we love each other with our words” is number one–thanks for the inspiration. i know it’s gonna bite me back time and again, but it’s not just something i want for my kids–we all should heed that quiet wisdom.

  • Hank

    A-stinking-men. Awesome stuff Sarah! You hit it right on the head

  • Thanks for reminding me again 🙂

  • Simple and excellent. nice post. I especially love the part about what our ministry is. I love that kind of perspective. We were given a ministry of reconciliation. I think that means that we are thrown into a broken and divided world and are invited to begin healing the wounds.

  • Stephanie

    Yes. Let us live united. Let us be known by our love. AND – Let us have the freedom to debate, letting compassion and humility be evident in our language (both spoken & unspoken).

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