In all of our lives there are defining moments that come with the realization that our world will never be the same again.
Some of these events changed the course of history. We may have been around long enough to remember where we were when we heard that John F. Kennedy had been shot. Others are too young to recall that day, but they clearly remember where they were when they heard that a large airliner had just crashed into the World Trade Center.
Other life-changing moments have been more personal. They may have involved new insight about our selves, our relationships, or our faith. I remember where I was the first time I heard about a characteristic of the Bible that makes it different from all other religious books. An elderly teacher told us that, even if we forgot everything else he said, he wanted us to remember that the Bible is unique because its story is couched in historical and geographical facts.
Years later, I remember how my inner world was changed when I learned that the truth of the Bible comes with an attitude. Suddenly, I could see that when Paul said words without love are just noise, he was letting us know that speaking the truth requires more than words (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
Over time, my RBC Ministries co-workers and I have become increasingly aware that the life-changing wisdom of the Bible is based on truth that is aligned in fact and in attitude with the God who is the source of our reality. As a result, we have developed an internal document we use to remind ourselves that our message includes not only what we say but how we say it. Together we have become convinced that our responsibility is to communicate not just the facts of the Bible—but also its love.
See if you resonate with the following excerpts that describe some of the characteristics we want to shape all that we say or write:
1. Foundation of the Bible—So that our thoughts rest not in human ideas, but in the revelation and wisdom of God.
• If we see the Bible as a handbook for solving our problems, rather than as a revelation of God and the story of our rescue, its moral principles will seem like a cut flower—clipped from its stem and root.
• When speaking about difficult issues, we need to attach authority to no more and no less than what God has said.
• The Bible is not so much like a priceless picture on a wall but like a window through which we view all else.
• Right application of Scripture is as important as right interpretation.
2. Supremacy of Christ—So that our message points ultimately and consistently to the living revelation of God through Christ and to the centrality of His cross and resurrection.
• Everything in the Bible, in one way or another, points to the Triune God who revealed Himself to us through Christ who is our Creator, our Sustainer, our Savior, our King, our Advocate and Intercessor, our Judge, and our coming Deliverer and Friend.
• The hero of our stories is not us but the One who bore our sins in His own body.
• Our goal is not only to communicate knowledge but also the wisdom that finds fullness of meaning in Christ.
3. Appropriate tone of communication—So that our words reflect the attitudes of the Person and Spirit of Christ.
• Our message needs to be marked by both urgency and patience; by conviction without condemnation; by care without compromise.
• We need to communicate with truth and grace.
• We need to speak to our spiritual family as brothers and sisters, and to our enemies as those for whom Christ died.
• When we use others in illustrations, we need to treat them as we would want to be treated.
• When we speak or write, we need to be attentive to bruised and broken people.
• We need to attack ideas rather than people.
The point of this list is not to say that my RBC Ministries co-workers and I have been as successful as we want to be in bringing our materials and content in line with these values, but that is certainly our desire. The reason for the above summary is to let you know what we are trying to do while asking you to hold us accountable if you see us doing something else.
In the process, I hope you can affirm with us that when the Bible calls us to a life of truth, it’s not just talking about learning to know the facts of life and death. Few things are more important to our spiritual journey than learning to see truth not only in words but also in attitudes that are true to the Son of God (2 Timothy 2:24-25; 3:10).
And so we pray, Father in heaven, thank You for giving us the honor of speaking to one another on Your behalf. Please enable us to do so with both words and attitudes that express Your heart. —Mart De Haan