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Speaking the Truth in Love


Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. (Ephesians 4:15)

A couple of days ago, KMS and I went to see the movie, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”  We both have read the Stieg Larson trilogy and wanted to see how Columbia Pictures would render our heroine Lisbeth Salander.  Salander, a 23 year old surviver of multiple horrific abuses by the men in her life, is deep down a character that wishes to help others and fight against injustice against women.  The movie is pretty graphic.  The book is even more graphic.

As Lisbeth is called upon to help journalist Mikael Blomkvist solve a forty year old murder mystery they encounter the Vanger family that has many dark secrets amongst its members.  Near the end of the film as Blomkvist puts all of the pieces of the puzzle together, he runs into the killer at the killer’s mansion on a high hill in Hedestad, Sweden.  Blomkvist is visibly terrified when the killer returns home and catches him snooping around the property.  I won’t say the killer’s name in case you want to see/read for yourself. . . but the killer, who is acquainted with Blomkvist, plays off the journalist’s presence on his property and invites him in for a drink saying he has a message from the journalist’s employer, his own uncle.  Knowing that he is entering into a very dangerous situation (because he has figured out already that this person is a serial killer) he hesitantly follows the killer into the house rather than risk offending his hospitality.

As in all good movies, one sits in that stadium reclining seat gripping one’s pant legs and yelling inside one’s head, “Don’t go!  Don’t go!”  But in he goes. . . right into the lair of the devil!

So what in the world does this have to do with speaking the truth in love, you might wonder.  It is a bit of a stretch. . . in fact I am not trying to apply Paul’s words to this movie scene in principle at all– the thing that struck me was the killer’s words to Mikael as he had him in a position of certain violent death. He said (and I paraphrase), “You knew that coming back here was dangerous and you could have gotten away.  You almost did.  But when I offered you a drink you did not want to offend me.  The fear of offending is stronger than the fear of danger.”  

It seems to me that we live in a culture and time when we are very much afraid of saying something to offend one another.  Edwin Friedman would have called it a “Failure of Nerve.”  When we see injustices right in front of our eyes, are we willing to call them out?  When we see leaders backing down in the face of pressure from the community, the schools, parents, or others. . . do we challenge them to stay the course?  Do we challenge them to risk offending the vocal (yet sometimes powerful) minority for the sake of the least, the last and the lost?  Or do our fears of hurting someone’s feelings get us into situations that cause us to fail to speak the truth in love?  It takes courage to be willing to put oneself out there in the midst of societal regression, where parents give up their authority, where principals and presidents cower to the demands of a few loud voices, where churches dumb down the good news of salvation and the cost of discipleship to make the message more palatable and I daresay, entertaining.

For Mikael Blomkvist, the fear of offending someone almost cost him his life.  For Jesus Christ, offending the sensibilities of his critics DID cost him his life.  It just might cost us something too if we are willing to risk speaking the truth to the things that bring about death rather than life.  It might not make us popular. . . in fact I can almost guarantee it!  But someone has to be courageous enough to do it!  Why not us?  I think it’s part of the process of sanctification. . . becoming more obedient to the will of God.

Stay tuned tomorrow when I continue this discussion and consider how sanctification might just be another word for what Murray Bowen called, “Differentiation of Self.”


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Pamela permalink
    17January2012 08:57

    When I consider how to respond to what another is saying, I seek internal balance of “self” first. What is going on as I hear (or sense) what the other is saying. They may be speaking the truth…. but if Love is not in what they are saying, then I need to be firm in my own sense of what is true. However, if their words shimmer with a truth that seems to be glistening with God’s wisdom and love (even if I don’t like what I am hearing), then I need to have the humility and trust to be shaped a bit by what I have heard. ….

    No surprise…. there seems to be some connectivity going on in the blogosphere today…
    See the Faith Formation Blog…

    looking forward to what you have to say tomorrow!


  2. 17January2012 18:01

    I really enjoyed this post, & appreciate your words. I’ve read many reviews of this movie, but I think this may be one of the most interesting. Based on your writings, I thought about another movie coming out next month that I believe you may enjoy. Deadline is a new independent film starring Eric Roberts & Steve Talley & based on a true Southern story. A young blueblood journalist decides to take on a 20 yr old unsolved racially motivated murder case in a small southern town, against the warnings of his publishers among others. You can watch the trailer & get more info at – you won’t be disappointed! Thanks again for sharing this post!

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