Today I want to talk in a different way a post I wrote a couple of weeks ago. In that post I talked about the idea that as Christians in our current culture we need to lead with the truth of Jesus. We can’t let Jesus become simply a means to our end. I talked about how we should use the truth of Jesus vs. the language of the present. Or at the least we should let the truth of Jesus be our larger context for any language we use. I said we need to lead with The Truth instead of being in constant reaction mode.
Today I want to think about another angle of this same basic idea.
What should our goal as Christians be? What are we aiming at? Yes each individual believer but also corporately. What is the ultimate goal?
We’ve been looking at Christian leadership in todays culture over several posts. We looked at checking our own hearts first, understanding and leading from God’s narrative, leading with the truth of Jesus and taking care of the home front. Today I want to begin to talk about Christian leadership in a even more outward way.
We need to understand that the Christian worldview is not the worldview of the culture. In some ways of course this is not new. But we are entering a time now where western Christendom is over. Christianity is not. Not at all. But the worldview that has dominated western culture, for good or bad, has changed.
This current environment is much more apostolic than that. What this means is that we are going to have to do actual evangelization in a world that does not know or does not follow the basic truths of Christian thought.
Today I want to continue a series about what it looks like to lead as a Christian in today’s culture. We first looked at the importance of starting with looking at our own heart and what we are really all about. Then we looked at the importance of defining and living out of the narrative of God’s story vs. narratives dictated by current culture. Next we took an inward turn to look at taking care of our own business first.
Today I want to look at leading with Jesus and His truth.
Now that sounds sort of obvious. But I honestly don’t see a lot of it right now. What I see is a lot of Christians using Jesus to back up their side. I also see a lot of Christians saying true things about Jesus, but only the parts that they want to virtue signal with. I also think there are a lot of Christians who are sort of fixated on a particular part of Jesus and are just trying to follow that one part.
Finally I think there are people who are trying to show that Jesus is relevant to all that is going on right now in an attempt to win particular people over, or perhaps keep particular people from leaving Christianity.
But frankly this is creating confusion and it’s all hijacking Jesus. Now understand I’m not accusing everyone, or anyone in particular, of meaning to do that (although there are certainly people that are). It also risks splitting the body of Christ in places it just doesn’t have to be split.
What often ends up happening is that Jesus ends up being the support for a truth rather than the truth itself.
In this series we’ve been talking about what it looks like to lead in today’s culture. We first said we need to check our own hearts. Then we looked at the need to live out of and lead people within the correct narrative.
Today before we go further out so to speak, I want to talk about going further in.
What I mean is that along with the first battle, the one in our heart, we need to make sure that we fight for those right around us. We need to make sure we take care of the home front so to speak.
The reality is that you are your own first responder. This is true in general of course. For example if there is a medical emergency you are going to respond before the ambulance gets there. If someone breaks into your home you will need to respond long before the police arrive. Do you have a plan? This is true for every area of life.
In a previous post I began to offer a conversation about what actual Christian leadership might look like right now in our current American Culture. This is an ongoing conversation I’m having with some people and I’m sort of sharing out if you will. I want to be clear that I’m not pretending to have all of the right answers. But I think that we need to think about this because what I see is a large lack of leadership out there.
In part one I said the first thing we need to understand is that the most important battle is within. It all starts there. It’s not out there somewhere in some fight against the ever easy to blame “they”. It’s the battle in our own hearts to follow Jesus and actually be about His Kingdom first.
Today I want to think about a second important thing. That is this: What narrative are you living in and out of?
A few months ago I wrote a series of posts about leadership. I’m not going to link them here but if you type leadership in the search function they’ll come up. I mentioned that it is one of the most misunderstood and overcomplicated ideas that people talk about.
Lately I’ve had some people reach out to me asking how we as Christians can lead right now in our culture and who they might look to in Christian leadership. You might be thinking, “why are they asking you?” Haha! Fair question. But in actuality I’ve been thinking a lot about this question.
The reason I’ve been thinking about it is twofold. First, I think in terms of Western Christianity we are at a major turning point. It’s not THE turning point for all of Christianity in history or anything. But it’s for sure an important moment. Secondly is that as I watch across the landscape I see very little actual leadership. What I see is a lot posturing, reacting, and fear based “leadership”. I see a lot of people wanting to be liked, and either trying to hold onto something that is already gone or just changing “christianity” to fit secular leadership. Both are really bad. I mean just awful.
Mark 10:46-52 tells the story of Jesus’ encounter with Bartimaeus the blind man.
Jesus and his followers are entering the city of Jericho. As they are walking along what is probably the main road it seems there is a crowd of people gathering. Bartimaeus was a blind man sitting and begging on the side of the road. When he hears that it is Jesus who is coming by he begins to call out to Him, asking for Him to have mercy on Him.
Bartimaeus had obviously heard of Him. He cries out to Him. The crowd tries to quiet him. They basically say, get back to your side of the street. This is Jesus, He has important things to do or teach. Stop crying out. But this doesn’t stop Baritmaeus. Instead he cries out all the louder.
In this last post on this story I want to consider something that I think often gets lost when we read this. And that is the last part where Peter and Jesus talk about the disciples and what they have left to follow Jesus.
Following Jesus’ teaching on how only God can let people in and that if you don’t surrender all to Him you won’t get in, Peter responds. You can see the wheels turning in Peter’s head. He says, “We have left everything to follow you. What will there be for us?”
A few weeks ago I wrote a 5 part study on the parable of the Samaritan. Following that in a related post we looked at the idea of what it might mean to love our enemies. In a way this all points toward the idea of loving our neighbor.
Jesus uses the parable of the Samaritan in response to a Jewish lawyer who had asked what the greatest commandment was. Jesus answered that the greatest commandment was to love God with all of our heart, strength and mind. The second follows; that is to love our neighbor. The lawyer then asks who is our neighbor. Jesus uses the parable to make the point that every person, yes even our enemy, is our neighbor.
One of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is the idea of suffering. This has not been brought on because of personal suffering. I am in a season right now where I don’t feel a lot personal suffering. But I have had many seasons where I have. This was especially true when I was single.
What has brought on these thoughts is that I have friends who have suffered and I’ve seen a lot of confusion in the singleness arena about the idea of suffering. For example there is the idea that celibacy is too great a cross to bear. That it is unfair that we are asking those who are not called to Celibacy for the Kingdom to suffer. The idea that it is unfair to ask those who are unmarried and wish to be or those that are celibate due to the fall of man, to remain celibate is to ask them to suffer unfairly.
I want to offer a few thoughts here about suffering in general and then bring it back to singleness.