I’m Not Ok and You’re Not Ok

Last time we looked at the idea in the first part of this century stemming from postmodernism (which was in motion far before then) that truth was relative to the individual and that we should somehow tolerate that idea and each other’s truths.  We also looked at some of why that didn’t and doesn’t work out well.  Today I want to look at how we might lead as Christians in the current context resulting from the failure of that idea.

First as a society, Christian or not, we need to understand this.  At this point, we either have to figure out how to rescue absolute truth or we will have a continual war between the “truths”.  Those truths will battle to become the absolute truths of society.  Because that is how it works.  Always.

As Christians what we need to do is a couple of things.  Mainly we need to lead with actual Christian truth.  All of it.  Not part of it.  Not the parts that line up with my “truths” but all of it.

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Why I’m Ok and You’re Ok Didn’t Work Out

One of the things that postmodernism sort of introduced in our culture is the idea that your truth is yours and mine is mine.  This was sort of the battle cry of tolerance that was taught in early 2000’s (which now seems like a really long time ago).  The idea at the time seemed to be that I’m ok and you’re ok.  We’re all ok as we are.  What we feel is ok.  What we see as true is ok.  We should tolerate differences not only of experience but we now could say that our different perspectives and experiences were actually different truths that were ok to live out of.  Back then it was ok for everyone to not agree.  In fact the idea was that no one should impose their belief or truth on anyone else.

Many in the church sort of went along with this.  I don’t mean to say that most church leaders agreed that truth was relative.  But I think the idea was that to get along and work in this new culture we should just sort of let that go and be loving and understanding.  This idea of loving and understanding everyone isn’t a bad thing as far as it goes but by not standing up stronger we gave a lot of things that aren’t true a lot of ground.  The results are that now even more believers are of the belief that there is no absolute truth and that half of millennial evangelicals think evangelization is wrong.  After all that would be forcing our truth on others.

All of this has backfired spectacularly both inside and outside of the church in our culture.

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Christianity as Both

I’ve been writing a lot about what Christian leadership might look like in our current context.  When I say current context I mean mainly within the American culture and Church.  Of course part of the problem is that in America there is no “the Church” per se, but that is something to be addressed at a later time.

We’ve been talking about leading with all of Jesus within the right narrative and aiming at Christ not lesser goods.  Today I want to tackle a really important idea that can help us actually do that.

One of the things that happens all the time in the current cultural conversation over Christianity is that we tend to set things that appear opposed against each other.  Or another approach is to take two Christian ideas and say that we need to balance them.

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Ideology Is Idolatry. Aim Instead At Christ.

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?

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Lead With The Truth Of Jesus (Christian Leadership In Today’s Culture Part 4)

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.

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What Is In Your Own Heart – What Are You Really About? (Christian Leadership in Today’s Culture Part 1)

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.

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Lies Single Christians Believe

The last couple of blogs I’ve been writing about the idea of not lying.  It’s funny even to type that.  But as we’ve been discussing, this is not always as simple as it seems. We’ve talked about not lying to ourselves, not lying to others, and not lying to other singles.

In the world of Christian singleness there are a ton of lies.  There are lies that the church has told singles, lies the enemy has told singles, lies that singles tell themselves, and lies that our current culture tells them.  I’ve written a lot about these over the years.  Rather than try to sum up that many posts in one new one I’m going to just list some and link to places where I’ve tried to be more honest and straightforward with the truth.  The list is not exhaustive and in fact if you think of more put it in the comments.  I’d love to see what I’m missing.  So here we go.  Lies singles have been told, thought and/or believed:

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How Satan Attacks Singles

In my mid 20s the words I suck would run through my head when something went wrong.  I would literally say the words “I suck!”  Whether this was because of work, play, or relationships it was there.  I was agreeing with the enemy.

Last week I asked us to consider that the enemy cares about our singleness.  Now we are no more or less under attack than a married person, but just like a lot of things it plays out in certain ways within our particular context.  So today I want to talk a little about what that looks like and how to see it.

The first place we can see spiritual attack is against our identity.

It’s important to distinguish between voices here.  Remember we can hear from God, our flesh, and from the enemy.  For example when we do something wrong, God speaks in a convicting way – it’s direct and at the wrong action.  Our flesh usually focusses on guilt. The enemy focusses on condemnation – in other words – he comes at our identity.

This is where my “I suck” stuff came in.  Now what happens is that the enemy throws us the thought and then we begin to agree with it.  This is one way we can let the enemy have a foothold.  Once we agree with it then he can run with it.  Condemnation does not come from God.  God is not saying, “You Suck”, “You’re Worthless,” “You’re ugly,” “You’re stupid”, “You’ve messed it all up, there’s not hope”, “You’re disqualified.

If these are not from God then we need to disagree with them.  If we don’t they severely affect how we view ourselves and they can become the identity we live out of.  This is not good because our identity should be in Jesus.  Hence “spiritual battle”.  Knowing the truth doesn’t mean much if we are going to live out of the lies.

This is critical as a single person because in our context we are often our own mirror.  It’s why it’s important to have people in your life who can also be a mirror.  The more free I am from this, the more I’m free to discern my calling, love others, and frankly the more free I am to pursue or be pursued by someone.

Here are some other places the enemy will attack.

He will try to get you to agree with things about God.  “God is holding out on you,” “If God loved you he’d send you someone,” “God doesn’t care that you don’t have a spouse,” “It’s all God’s fault,” and so on.  Anything that can drive a wedge between you and God, the enemy will try to exploit it.  And you’d better believe he will exploit our singleness.

He will plant thoughts about other people as well.  “She would never like me,” “He’s married now so he’s probably too busy,” “They just don’t understand,” “You’re All Alone”.

The enemy also attacks our sexuality.  The temptation level is high to begin with because of our own sin and fleshly desires.  But you can bet that the enemy wants to turn this up.  This can come in the form of straight up temptation to sex or other sexual outlets – i.e. porn, strip club etc.  But he can also steal our sexuality.  We can be led to kill our desire or try to cover it.

Another big battle is over who you date.  Think about this.  A person decides to follow Jesus.  The enemy is pissed and has already lost the major battle.  Now If I’m him, what is my strategy?  How about having them date, or better yet, marry someone that pulls them away from following Jesus.  Satan knows the next closest thing to a relationship with God is a relationship with another person.  The enemy is not stupid.  Who you date, or if you date, matters and he knows it.

How about fear?  Fear of commitment, fear of choosing wrong, fear of being alone, fear of failing at a relationship, fear of intimacy.  The fear list could go forever.  Fear is never from God.

These are just a few examples.  Look, I’m not saying there is a demon behind every rock, trying to mess with your single life.  But what I am saying is that we are in a war and just like any war there are tendencies that the enemy has and our flesh just plays right into it.  We need to fight back.

If there really is a spiritual battle then you’d better believe part of that battle is over how you view yourself, God and others, over your sexuality, and over who you date or marry or for that matter whether you date or marry.

Looking at your singleness – where do you see the battle?  What lies have you believed?