Risk-Taking Mission: Truth Telling
PEORIA -- What one says and what one doesn't say speaks volumes observed Bishop Gregory V. Palmer in the second Morning Manna Friday morning of the 2012 Annual Conference.
"Speech -- what you say -- is a big deal, but what you don't say can also be a big deal," Palmer noted. "The Bible seems to be concerned about what we say about God and about each other."
Using a text from Ephesians 4, Palmer said Paul's interest was concerned about forming community. "How one speaks or whether we speak to each other at all matters," he said. "The text was precipitated by a conversation in Ephesus that was boiling over over who is in and who is out."
Palmer said the challenge for today's church is being able to frame conversations with each other rather than at each other or past each other. "How can we begin, with patience and being with each other, to speak the truth in love?" he asked. "When I have already made up my mind, I am more focused on framing my response than by listening."
One of the realities checks each must ask is, "Is the wall I have erected between my convictions fixed and hardened like concrete, or is it permeable to be open to the Spirit where God can speak to me as well as with the person for whom I have engaged in conversation," Palmer said. "This isn't to say that all truth is relative. With humility, gentleness and patience, truthful conversations proceed from positions of hope and courage because it carries with it the conviction that my conversation partner is a borther or sister in Christ."
Palmer warned that "speaking truth in love is not making your point, turning on your heels and then pumping your fist and saying, 'Gotcha!'"
"When thing weren't working, even God tried something different (in sending Jesus Christ)," Palmer said. "What would it be if we treated conversation as community? I want to be lined up to that because it glorifies God and I want God to use the Church."