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.
You may have seen in the news that a man recently “married” a hologram. Yes you read that right. A hologram. Now before you get all judgmental here please listen to the man. Akihiko Kondo points out that, “I believe that the shape of happiness and love is different for each person.” Does this sound familiar?
I’m not here to bash Kondo today. What I want to do with this post is discuss a couple of things. 1. We are careening off the rails as a culture and 2. What should it look like as the church to stand in the middle of it.
One of the things that I’ve been thinking about lately as I’ve been reading some scripture is idea of choice in the face of different contexts. The particular scripture that started this thought was 1 Peter 2:13-20. Here Peter instructs even servants to submit to their masters. . . even the bad ones.
Now obviously our culture and history has a lot of impact on how we read that. But Peter’s point isn’t that slavery is good. Or that unreasonable masters are ok. The point is that regardless of my circumstances and context, I’m called to act as Christ would. Peter and the early Church Fathers backed this up with their lives. They actually did endure extreme injustice with joy. In reading their writings, and writings about them, you can’t really help but be amazed by it all.
This is true for every area of our lives of course. Our income level, our job, what country and situation we live in. But for the sake of this blog it also relates to singleness, dating and marriage.
When I was in high school and college, one of the things that I battled with constantly was the idea that I wasn’t “good enough”. I battled this in almost every area of my life. I saw myself as decent, but not great at pretty much everything. The things that I did care about (sports for example) I worked my tail off to become great. But I never saw myself as arriving at greatness.
Nowhere was this more true than with the opposite sex. I was constantly in the friend zone with the girls that I liked. I thought I was physically not attractive enough. Later I thought I wasn’t making enough money. The list goes on. One of my go to thoughts was, “I’m just not good enough.”
I’ve shared a lot of things on here about what I’ve seen done wrong in how we talk to/about men – single and married. Let me share about one of the best events I’ve ever been to and why it stood out.
A group held a special event a couple of years ago in a community near me. They hosted a “Father’s Night”. They invited the people from the community to come to the school auditorium to honor some fathers from the community. They first had three very different speakers talk about fatherhood and what it means. Then, get this, they actually honored some fathers with fatherhood awards.