Here’s a great poem by Emily Dickinson about truth.
Tell it Slant
Tell all the Truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies;
Too bright for mind's infirm intent,
The Truth's superb surprise.
As Lightning to the Children eased,
With explanation kind;
The Truth must dazzle gradually,
Or every man be blind.
To tell the truth “slant” is, I believe, the most effective way to do it. If you just go up to somebody and say “Hey—God loves you!” that person is apt to go suddenly wide-eyed, turn on his/her heel, and get away from you quickly.
In fact, I remember a similar situation when I was a freshman at the University of Texas in Austin many years ago. Simply being there was a culture shock, since the freshman class was comprised of about a thousand people more than my entire home town. Contributing to the spinning of my head was the fact that professors were slinging truth and half-truth and not-truth at me as fast as they could talk. I was dizzy trying to figure out which was which.
One beautiful day in October or November, a student stopped me on the sidewalk as I was on my way to class, deep in agonized thought. He said, “Have you had the wonderful experience of asking Jesus Christ into your life?”
I was completely bamboozled, not to mention shocked, and said, “Yes.” I walked on. People didn’t do that kind of thing so directly where I came from, and I could hardly believe anybody would do it. My home town was a lovely, nurturing place to grow up, full of loving people. But most of them were shy about directly discussing God, for some reason. It was the time, I suppose. People don’t seem to be that way so much now, and I’m glad.
So what is the best way to present the truth about God’s love to people? How do we “tell it slant” in a way that makes people listen? It's a delicate and difficult question. I’m going to think about it and write more about it soon.
*I borrowed the picture from this site.