(Welcome to this first edition of The Payneful Truth. For the audio version click on the play button above, or for the text version, just read on … )
Naming anything is difficult. Babies, sporting teams, cars.
Especially cars it seems. Some genius from marketing must have argued for the Kia Pro_cee’d, and the Subaru Brat, and (my very favourite) the Nissan Cedric.
My irreverent son came up with The Payneful Truth for this new weekly journal, and it has grown on me, I have to say.
It has a touch of Australian self-mockery about it, and it rolls of the tongue easily enough. And the more I have thought about it, the more The Payneful Truth captures what I’m hoping to achieve in this weekly journal.
For a start, it names the essential nature of every kind of Christian ministry, including this one, which is to speak the saving, judging, life-changing truth of Christ. This is the truth that convicts us, critiques us, corrects us, trains us, and sets us free. It redeems our minds and hearts to know and live in reality—like the proverbial fish stranded on a sandy shore that has now been set free to swim in the ocean.
This is the truth that Paul urges all us of to speak in love—not only to stabilise us when the buffeting winds of false doctrine blow, but to nourish and grow the body of Christ (Eph 4:14-16). And that really is the main and simple reason that I’ve launched this new journal—to speak the truth about every aspect of Christian life and ministry, so that those who read (or listen) will be encouraged and equipped to do the same.
Νοw, this truth is ‘in Jesus’, as Paul puts it (Eph 4:20). It is certainly not ‘in Payne’! It is only available through the Word that has come to us from outside—from the God who is the truth, and who has supremely and finally revealed the truth of reality in the person, teaching and work of his Son.
But this truth of Christ is only made available to us through human speech—through the authoritative speech of the Scriptural authors first of all, but also through each one of us as we convey the Scriptural truth to others, in whatever form, context, length, mode or vibe in which we speak it. The fulness of God is in Christ, and that fulness is made known as each one of us brings the word of Christ to others, each in our own unique way, with our own unique contexts and opportunities.
In that sense the truth of Christ is always Smith-ful and Lee-ful and Patel-ful—and even Payne-ful.
Which also means that I am hoping and praying that all you Smiths, Lees and Patels out there will also be speaking the truth—not only to all those around you, but back to me, and to other readers. (Fee free to hit ‘reply’ and send me a message, or make a comment in the comments section.)
Of course, speaking the truth is usually ‘payneful’ in the other sense as well. It often hurts to speak the truth, because it exposes us to the criticism of others. And it hurts to hear the truth, because it exposes the lie that we’ve been living—whether the primary cancerous lie of being a rebel against God’s truth, or all the little lies that metastasise from that, and spread through our lives and personalities, and continue to afflict us as Christians.
The truth undercuts and rewrites the false narratives that the world continually whispers in our ears, and which we come to cherish. And because those narratives are so pervasive and so easily and widely accepted (the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction), Christian truth is very often painfully contrarian. In fact, when an opinion or view is widely and commonly held by the world, my immediate (and I think right) instinct is to suspect that something somewhere is wrong.
In our current climate, where moralistic secularism seems to be getting more censoriously aggressive with each passing social media outrage, we need to speak and hear this truth of Christ more than ever.
That’s the big aim of this little journal, The Payneful Truth. Thanks for being with me at the beginning. Please let me know how it’s going (as I get into the rhythm), and if there’s a pressing question or issue you’d like me to address, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
And as for whether The Payneful Truth is a good name—or another Nissan Cedric in the making—only time, and the ridicule of future generations, will tell.
PS. If you’re not already a subscriber, jump on board. It’s free, and it’s the only way to get The Payneful Truth regularly.
PPS. I’m planning to finish each edition with a fairly random or tenuously connected image (so that the post archive has a bit of visual interest). And today it has to be the venerable Nissan Cedric.