Random Blog Clay Feet: August 05, 2008
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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A Warning From Solzhenitsyn

Upon listening to a radio report about the life and death of Alexander Solzhenitsyn yesterday, I heard something that reminded me too much of my own experience. Solzhenitsyn has been admired for many years as being a very bold proponent of exposing uncomfortable truth in the face of fierce opposition, slander and persecution. That is certainly a trait worth emulating and is in very scarce supply in our world today. But the reporter said something in her story that caught me by surprise and served as a warning to me.

She explained about his life in the U.S. after he was expelled from the Soviet Union and how he surprised Americans by being nearly as critical of Western society as he was of the brutal communist system for which he had become famous through his criticism and writings. He denounced the moral decadence of the West and the role of the media among other things. But when he finally returned back to his own country he also lost much of his appeal and influence with his own people because – as the reporter put it – he scolded too much. The younger generation felt annoyed about him dwelling so much on the mistakes of the past. They were not interested in hearing about the dangers of materialism and moral decadence that he harped on so much. They wanted to enjoy those things, not be scolded about them, so they lost respect for this man who, in their minds was just living in the past.

I realized instantly and intensely when I heard this that his problem is also one of my own greatest faults and blind spots. While many of the things that I say or communicate may be true and even very important, when I convey them with a spirit of scolding, that spirit permeates everything I represent with an “edge” that tends to turn people away and discredits the very things that they may indeed need to know about. This is another clear message to me again that the condition of my own spirit is of paramount importance, far more than the accuracy of my message or logic.

Evidently Solzhenitsyn had some of the same problems that I have and is an example for me to learn from. If I want my influence to have a deeper effect on the hearts of others I need to be transformed much more thoroughly by the sweetness and gentleness of the Saviour that I serve instead of the example of my earthly father. I want this warning to have its intended affect in my own life and I want to be much more alert to sensing the convictions of the Spirit to check my attitude and the tone of my communications. I want to learn how to speak the truth and not withhold anything for fear of consequences, but to do so in the spirit of genuine love like Jesus always did.