So, the world is letting you down? Good.

There is a strange upside-down power in Christianity.

I just finished a long cool morning walk with my wife.
In these times we often talk about what we have been reading, thinking, and feeling. Today the conversation started with heavy awareness of the deep tensions in this world. Economic, civil, and even personal tensions seem to be increasing. She said she feels her heart rate rise and anxiety increase when she reads the news. Is there anyone else out there that feels like its becoming harder and harder to find your fit in this world? Have you ever wondered where are my people? Maybe you want to escape, buy a property, get off the grid and raise a family away from modern society.

GK Chesterton noted this: he said, “Jesus promised his disciples three things – that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy, and in constant trouble.”

Anyone else not getting this? Too many of us Christians still feel afraid, discouraged, and in trouble. Ok, so we overlap with the last of Chesterton’s quote.

He is on to something though. C.S. Lewis paints an interesting picture in the book The Screwtape Letters. A Christian who works to find their comfortable fit in the world is actually experiencing the world finding its fit in them. Lewis believed that some of the most vulnerable Christians are the ones who are sitting comfortable. It’s true Satan doesn’t want us happy but he also doesn’t want us so unhappy that we are looking for a better world. What if being comfortable is the dangerous place? The place where we are most likely to turn from a heavenly focus and prioritize this temporary world. Think of it. Which Christians are most likely to quit attending church regularly, miss prayer and Bible reading, or let spiritually unhealthy habits seep in? The comfortable ones. The radically uncomfortable ones are often seeking a better world.

In Revelation 2:8-11 Jesus is sharing his heart with a church that feels very out of place in this world. The church of Smyrna feels crushed by the weight of a calloused, collapsing, angry, immoral culture. A funny thing begins to happen; the more they feel displaced the more it pushes them into their faith, while faith sinks deeper into their hearts. They long for heaven, they seek God in deeper prayer. They even prioritize gathering together and providing for each other.

And then it happens…

The more you believe and the deeper it goes into your heart, the less the world has power over you. 

So, you feel displaced? Good… it may just cause you to gaze even deeper into a better world. You might just gaze so deep into it that this world begins to lose its grasp on your heart. Then, you can start to drink of the seemingly incompatible combination of fearless, happy, and in trouble.

I dare you to taste how good it is to lose your place in this world and find your place in His.

“Was I born into this world that leads to death or was I born into this death that leads to life?” -St. Augustine 

Application:

  • Turn your gaze to Jesus. It’s your new first priority.
  • Go to Church. Find a pastor that believes the Bible is true. I do! Join us. I really believe in the power of Christ.
  • Join a Discipleship group.
  • Read your Bible.
  • Learn to pray.
  • Dream of heaven.

Honestly, I am hungry for people who really believe in Jesus, not people who are merely influenced by Christian ideals. I deeply want friendships and to worship with passionate seekers of the kingdom of God. I long for a better world. I know I am not alone…

*This is an excerpt from my personal journal.

The Problem with Love

About 15 years ago I sat in my office across from a young mother who infrequently attended our church. Her eyes were swollen and face forlorn. It was the type of appearance you only see in someone who has been suffering for an extended period of time.

It takes many hard days and long nights to look this exhausted.

It’s the face you see in someone who has recently lost a spouse to cancer.

It’s the face you see in a parent when their child dies during deployment.

It’s also the face you see in someone who finds out their spouse has been cheating on them and officially chooses to abandon the family. It was this face that sat across the table from me.

“Pastor Mike, my husband said he fell in love with his secretary, and he is going to leave us.” (They had one elementary aged son.) “He said if I really loved him I would support his decision.”

What did she mean by “he fell in love?” What did the cheating spouse mean by, “If you love me, you will support me?”

A few years later I was sitting in my office with someone who was going through their fifth divorce. This lady was a highly educated professional counselor. I asked her why she came to see me rather than another therapist. I quickly realized it wasn’t for counsel. She said she knew exactly what she was doing in the divorce. She was “searching for love and working towards life fulfillment.” She needed to “step aside from anything toxic in her life.” So, I simply asked, “If it’s not for counsel, why are you here to see me?” She said something similar to this: “My son goes to the youth group; can you help him be okay with my pursuit of love and wholeness? Help him understand I’m leaving him and his dad because I need to find myself.”  

I have many more examples: A young girl running away with an older man who she “fell in love with.” Praise God they were caught before something tragic happened. She screamed at her parents for being hateful and “destroying love” when they prevented her from leaving with him. Or what about the doctor who is criticized for “fat shaming” when encouraging self-love and care through weight loss? Or the student who met with me via court mandate for marijuana use. He said something like this: “Pastor Mike, the judge said I need to beat this to be the best version of me. The me I want to be is smoking weed with my friends.” Or the wife and mother who was tired of “repressing her sexuality” and abandoned her family for another woman? She had “fallen in love” and demanded support from the family.

Can you imagine me kneeling down and looking her little boy in the eyes while saying, “I’m sorry your mom left you, but you need to support her as she follows her heart.”

So… what is love?

What is the loving thing to do?

From an inconsistent pop culture perspective, it feels more loving to encourage the dad not to pursue what his heart wants and stay with his family. Yet, somehow cheering on the mom to leave her family for the other woman would be celebrated? What about the heart desires of the families left behind?

So… what is love?

What is the loving thing to do?

I feel like echoing The Princes Bride when Inigo Montoya tells Vizzini, “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

I feel like I’m stuck in George Orwell’s book, 1984 and the definition of a word is being purposefully confused and repurposed.

As best as I can tell, love defined by modern culture most often means permission. Usually, culture seems to think what’s most loving to me is most permissive for me. If you tell someone they are wrong or refuse to support them, it’s unloving or even abusive. This makes the fulfillment of individual desires (or appetites) the prime definer of what is right and good to them, and the implication is we all must support this.

Think of Jack Sparrow’s compass from Pirates of the Caribbean, the one that points to what you want. The only difference is everyone has this compass and if anyone else’s journey to fulfill their heart’s desire (compass) interferes with your journey, you can call them an abusive bigot.

Rationally we all know this is unrealistic. You can’t have billions of people living together with different desires all demanding their desires be fully supported. Moreover, it’s civilly impossible to do life with others when you make it okay to go to war against people who have desires that don’t align with yours. The natural nihilistic end is billions of proud little individual human “kings” declaring war on other little human kings because they have been “abused.” If love is practiced by giving open permission and abuse by practice is inhibiting another’s desire, every permission given (love) will eventually inhibit another person’s desire (abuse). Love by practice is abuse in modern culture. Love is abusive in this modern “Orwellian” world.  

The dad who falls in love with another woman sets his love free at the abuse of the family he leaves behind. Who should we celebrate? Who should feel abused?

The mom who embraces a new sexuality causes deep pain to the child and husband she walks away from. Who should we celebrate? Who should feel abused?

The list of examples is endlessly long.

So, again… what is love?

Culture may not be able to answer what love is in a coherent way, but there is a clear objective Biblical definition. One I would encourage you to considered.

Biblical love (agape) is an objective anchor and has a very clear meaning in the Bible.

However, our understanding of what words mean is changing. Like learning a new language, we need to define again what the word “love” means as we read it in the Bible. When Jesus says “love” it means something very specific.

The purpose of this blog is merely an attempt to shine light on the quickly evolving confusion. I am planning on developing a coherent answer to this from a Jesus centered persepctive.

I am giving two months of sermons to offer the Biblical definition of love.

If you want to know what the Bible means when it drops that little four-letter word “love,” join us beginning September 4th. www.encountertrinity.com

Abortion: People don’t understand the Christian view…including some Christians.

Before I go too far into this, take a deep breath. 

We know objectively when you are in a state of heightened adrenaline (fight or flight) you cannot think as clearly as when you are calm. The research project turned into book, Crucial Conversations, made this clear. There is also good evidence (as I have written on before) that social media has shaped our mind to struggle with complex ideas and ideals that do not already align with our predetermined preferences. If people cannot immediately “swipe away” from a person, thought or place they don’t like, they have very real negative visceral reactions.

(For more on this read: You are being rewired by technology.)

This is why many people are not looking to connect and understand, they are looking for justification to their preexisting preferences.
If you speak on anything in our current geopolitical culture people will exaggerate and assume the worst in you, not because of what you said, but because of how they have been shaped to handle other opinions.
Don’t think, “That’s right, I know people that are that way.” Please think, “Uh oh… I am probably that way!”
If your pulse is already high, why don’t you pause and come back later.

I am going to try, big emphasis on try, to create understanding.

Here we go…
A few conversations on abortion I wish we could have without it erupting into straw-man arguments and exaggerated character attacks.

The first conversation. What is considered alive and what isn’t? 

Abortion, as I see it, is not primarily about women’s rights (deep breath), but about what a pregnancy actually is.
Is that unwanted fetus truly a person?
If we all actually believed it was (or was not) alive it would change the way society views much of this debate.

Think about it. 

What if a person desired to kill their ex-wife or husband, a five-year-old with Down’s Syndrome, a two-year-old autistic child, a 75-year-old who only has a few months to live, or even a homeless war veteran with PTSD living under the bridge…would we not call it murder?
Right now in the news a famous podcaster joked about killing the homeless who can’t “do any good” for society. The world erupted against him.
Why?
Do not all these examples make life more complicated for society and the families that have to take care of them? These examples create much complexity and stress. As far as I can tell the only difference is that we believe these people to actually be…alive.

I think the first discussion is about what constitutes life. 

Again, what if we believed that mass of tissue was (or was not) a living being that deserves dignity and rights? It would change much of this dialogue, maybe all of it.

This is a big deal and not the first time humans have tried to dehumanize a people group. I, along with many others, remember our messy human history and can’t pretend to turn our eye on what “might” (if you believe a fetus is a living person, a baby) be the greatest genocide humanity has ever participated in.
Can you see how this isn’t something to take lightly?
It may be a life.
Humans have made the awful mistake of dehumanizing before.
Only if you could absolutely prove that the baby in the womb was not a person would pro-life people consider the risk of being a part of yet another historical genocidal blunder.

The second conversation I would like to have: The unrealistic political and social problem of trying to save everyone.

If you don’t believe a fetus is a living person I would understand your desire to stop reading at this point. In this blog specifically it is not my intent to convince you of this. However, it may be good to understand better what Christians who do believe a fetus is a living person are thinking. To those who are pro-choice… this might explain a lot.

Let’s begin with the big picture and work my way in.
Christians think all life is sacred. If they don’t, they aren’t really Christian, independent of what their Facebook status says. 😉 Real Christianity believes all… including those who are rich, poor, minority or majority in culture are sacred. They also think the older person who can’t work, the homeless under the bridge and those who have disorders that prevent them from working in society… yep, all sacred to Christ. This includes the mother and baby. Christians want to do the seemingly impossible, help them all thrive.

I know living like all life is sacred poses a practical problem for society. Actually, many problems.

What do we do when the act of protecting one group causes another to suffer? 

This could be assigned to any of the people groups mentioned above, yet with abortion we must admit, there will be times when protecting that little helpless life (remember, people like me do believe it is a life) will cause other lives to become more complicated. 

As does living with your ex-spouse, the Down’s family member, the homeless war veteran, the list could go on.

This is where I think Christians are trying to do as Martin Luther King, Jr. did.

We press into the “ridiculous ideal” as best as we can.
Dr. King knew that continuing to free and give rights to black people (and other minorities) would make life and society more complex for other people. He still says this… “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive ‘selfishness.’” (Selfishness meaning: since I can’t protect everyone, I’ll protect me and my tribe only.)

As Christians we know our darkest days are when we set aside the altruism of Jesus and gave into social complexities as “unavoidable” evils (see the book Dominion by Tom Holland). Our history shows Christianity’s darkest moments are when she looked at a life and basically said, “Since it’s all so complicated, I’ve decided your life isn’t as valuable as that other person.” This is why we must lean into the “silly,” the seemingly unattainable ideal. We want to do our best to stand with all life. We are not (and have not been) blind to how this can complicate things. We knew it when we opened our homes and churches to the Underground Railroad, marched with Dr. King, and sent our best and brightest to disease ridden parts of the world to heal, help and even die with people that class led societies deemed as less than human. We know it even today when we still give away large portions of our income in a struggling economy to ministries that serve countless meals to the homeless, help immigrants naturalize, and rescue people from human trafficking. We are trying to show that all life matters. That’s what Jesus did and our brightest moments in history are when we leaned into this “silly, unrealistic” ideal.

Can you see it?

This ethic is far reaching. 

Real Christians even want non-Christians to be treated with dignity. We want you to do your best to treat your ex-spouse, annoying neighbor, elderly person who can’t work, criminal who should be detained, we even want you to treat yourself with dignity. On your worst days we want you to look in the mirror and say, “I am an eternal being immeasurably loved by God.” From that knowledge and acceptance we want all people to walk into the ways and ideals of Jesus, literally follow Jesus.

Can you see it? When our spiritual grandparents marched with Dr. King and other minorities they didn’t stop and ask who was Christian first. When Mother Teresa held the hands of people dying from AIDS she didn’t ignore those who weren’t Christian. All deserve dignity. That dignity is evangelistic to us. Jesus hung on a cross for us while we were still living in sin. This means that Christians will do what seems impossible to non-believers. C.S. Lewis, in The Abolition of Man, says that our morality won’t make sense to those that don’t live in it.

It will seem silly or unrealistic.
Yes, yes from a non-believer’s perspective it is.
Yet, sacrificing limited Human Resources to save an eternal soul makes total sense to an eternally minded Christian. To a Christian that homeless person who decides to follow Jesus will far outlast our country, the earth and even our solar system. We want all people to know and feel that level of worth and value.

To be really clear.
Here is what Christians believe…

We believe all people are unimaginably loved eternal beings whose worth is not in how talented they are, how smart they are or how strong they are. We believe all life deserves dignity and should be loved, even the lives of those who live in opposition to Biblical ethics. Humans are not our enemies, we see all people as needing rescued from the lies of the enemy (Ephesians 6:12).

This puts Christians in a place that society doesn’t want us, and young Christians who haven’t been catechized (taught clear Christian doctrine) struggle to understand. 

Following Jesus means a way of living that includes loving people without abandoning Christian morality. Grace and Truth. Real love practiced is not permission to indulge in human appetites but submission to Jesus as a way to find life to the full.
Can you see it?
We as professing Christians are bound to live by Biblical ethics all while loving and cherishing life, even the lives of non-believers.

To my Christian brothers and sisters:

Especially in this current climate we must go all out in helping mothers who are pregnant. We must be willing to open our homes and wallets to babies that are unwanted and mothers that feel stuck.
We cannot defend a Christian morality without it becoming an actual living and breathing ethic. The Christian life has always been marked by some level of asceticism, temperance and self denial to make resource space for those who are in need. God did not give you money to indulge, but infuse this world with the knowledge and love of God.

Be life, everywhere you go, be life. Set your own appetites aside to make space to help other lives. As the Mandalorian would say, “this is the way.” (There is the pop culture reference!)

What am I personally doing?
I have five children and Leslie (my wife) and I still talk about finding ways to do more for mothers who are pregnant and unwanted babies. This will absolutely mean creating more systems to help pregnant mothers in the ministries I oversee, but it also means opening my wallet personally and maybe even opening our home to adopt a child or sponsor a mother.
Whatever it takes…
I will try to protect all life. Moms, babies, immigrants, those with mental disorders, the elderly, the homeless, the poor, even non-Christians who don’t like me…all life.
I so desperately want to lean into the ridiculous ideal. I promise I won’t always get it right, I will need the very grace I want to offer others. I also promise Christians won’t get it right, but we have a living and breathing ideal. A ridiculous, eternally minded, value all life, ideal. We have Jesus to model after.

Rebuttals I often hear:

What about complex situations?

This is often followed by examples like this:
What about a mother in an emergency labor situation and the doctor has to choose between her life and the baby? Or…
What about a mom who has cancer and if she is treated the baby will die?

My friends. Please, we all know this isn’t what Christians are talking about. These are complex situations and often used as straw man arguments. We are talking about the vast majority of abortions that many Christians believe is taking place mostly for convenience. In the hard situations we just want medical professionals to try to save all life. We know this can’t always happen. Let the rare and extreme situations be rare and extreme. That’s not what we are talking about. To the pro-choice person, that’s why it may feel like these types of arguments go nowhere with Christians. They would probably simply say, “Yes, that’s complicated.”

Don’t you care about women’s rights?

The Christian would simply say, and does say, “Yes!” Women, along with all other life, should be valued and have rights.

What if it makes someone who has had an abortion feel bad?

There is correlation between accepting the weight of a situation and the weight of healing. It’s awful when people hurt deeply and all they get is a passive belittling of their pain. Deep healing needs deep confession. It was a life that died and God STILL loves you and so do we! It’s a big deal and so are you! Follow the ways and love of Jesus, it will change everything.

A few Scriptures to remember:

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 ESV

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a NIV

“Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:37-40 ESV

The greatest transfer of wealth in human history is starting to happen.

This might be the most controversial blog I write all year.

It impacts almost everything controversial…

  • Politics.
  • Education and the future of your children and grandchildren.
  • Abortion and adoption.
  • Churches abandoning Truth.  
  • The future of our country.
  • Who controls what is “true” by controlling social media and the news.

This blog is for those who are about 60 years old and older.

It’s to those that feel like they have little power or influence left.

Grandmas and Grandpas, you can shape the future in one very powerful way, and you may not realize it.

There is something on the economic horizon that many are beginning to bring attention to.

The greatest transfer of wealth in human history is beginning.

The wealthiest (and one of the largest) generations in human history is beginning to retire, age and pass away. Who this generation leaves their money to will determine who has the ability to shape the future. *

Some of you (those in the 60 plus age range) have great hearts.

You lived a lifetime trying to help make the world a better place, yet a lot of you will undo almost all of what you have lived supporting simply by giving all that God has entrusted to you into the hands of foolish children and wayward organizations, people who do not share your values.

I know this will make people mad, but someone who is Christian** needs to sound the alarm too.

  • Where you place your estate will have greater long-term impact on the future than the news channel you watch or leader you prefer.
  • Don’t just think of who you are giving and leaving your money to, think of what they will do with it.
  • You must be intentional with what God has entrusted to you all the way through the end of your life.

If the college you graduated from doesn’t hold your values anymore, pull your money today and invest it in people and places that do uphold your Christian values.

Can you see it?

Not picking someone to give your wealth to is a passive picking.

If your own children don’t hold your values, don’t give all your money to them. Intentionally invest in who does hold your values.

If the church movement you are a part of has walked away from sound Biblical doctrine, stop giving to them.

You will give all you have to the next generation. Double negative warning – you cannot “not participate.”

I mean that, you and your generation will pass away. Please, find young leaders, movements and ministries that are sound and intentionally fund them…for the future.

My older friends, think big picture. 

For your grandkids future, shaping the world they will be born into is vastly more important than just giving them money.

Some of you are wealthy and you are a heart attack away from being a substantial supporter of things you completely disagree with.

This may be painful, but it’s very possible your spiritual children will be more faithful than your biological ones.

It is very possible investing in your spiritual children will have a greater likelihood of building a world that will save your great grandchildren and their children to come over investing in your biological ones. It’s the same with universities and churches.

The greatest transfer of wealth is already beginning.

You can’t stop it and you will participate in giving to someone.

If you are not intentional with your legacy, your sin of omission (not doing what you know you should do) might become your greatest mistake. If the numbers economists are throwing around are correct, this sin of legacy omission might singlehandedly sink this country. You, as a generation, giving all you have to your sinful kids and wayward alma mater could literally sink the country.

Remember, you keep nothing after you die and all that you own is going to someone else.

Who gets your life’s work?

What ideas and ideals will get your life’s work?

What morality, ethic, and education will you invest in?

You also must pick someone young. Just passing money between older folks fixes nothing in the long run.

Pick organizations that are sound.

Pick young leaders you believe in.

You won’t get it 100% right, but you must try to be intentional.

I can hear it now…

“Pastor Mike, this is an outright money grab by a pastor.”

Well, yes and no. No, you don’t have to pick me or organizations I have started or currently run.  And… Yes, you can if you believe in them!

Please… Just be intentional!  

*This transfer of wealth is beginning to be talked about in so many places. Google it and pick whatever source you trust. Seriously, Ramsey, Fox News, CNN… whatever. They all see it coming. I have even heard it called “The Great Reset.”

**There are young social media influencers who are helping other young people position themselves to get their parents and grandparents money. They know they don’t have to fight you on your ethics…they literally just wait you out with the proper paperwork in place. You’ll die and your money will fund the ethics you disagree with. Imagine that; some of the most faithful sound friends of yours (older folks) will become great supports of agendas they currently disagree with.

You are being rewired to not have friends. (Or a romantic relationship.)

Is it really getting harder and harder to get along with other humans? Yes, it is.

“Pastor Mike, will you pray for me? I’m lonely. Every time I start to get close to someone it turns toxic.

I have heard versions of this many times over the last few years and the frequency of these types of comments is increasing. With 5 kids I decided to take some time to research this social loneliness. Here is what I found:

Your brain is wired to adapt, and the Internet is rewiring your brain.

Remember neuroplasticity from that undergrad psychology class? It’s the ability of the brain to change and adapt. When you are young your brain is amazing at this. Think of an immigrant family moving to the United States. In just a few years a child, without much intentional effort, can speak and sound just like anyone else who grew up here. With adults… not so much. After years of classes and effort you can still identify the parent who migrated here. Adult brains can’t adapt as quickly and fully as young ones. This isn’t good or bad. It just is. Either could be advantageous depending on the situation.

Your brain is being rewired to only give attention to things it likes most.

Take that young highly adaptable brain and give it a cell phone. As those young minds thumb through photos, YouTube videos, social media, and blogs they are being trained to leave a page, post, or video as soon as they aren’t interested and the more they do this the more they are fed exactly what they prefer. It’s basic digital marketing. Hours of doing this is wiring the brain of young children to lose the ability to coexist with things that aren’t exactly what they like. Ironically, those of us that didn’t get the Internet in our hands until we were adults are less affected precisely because our brains can’t adapt as easily. The now young adults? They were raised in the Wild West of the Internet Age. Their brains work differently.

The world of utopian digital pleasure produces dystopian realities.  

Think about it. Not only with our kids, but we also are being trained to leave as soon as we come across something we even mildly disagree with. These digitally perfected echo chambers of our ideal perspectives are shaping our brains, especially in our kids. We are losing the ability to live alongside people that aren’t EXACTLY what we prefer. It’s becoming true that kids can’t emotionally handle ideas that they don’t like, and therefore, environments and relationships that make them uncomfortable. They don’t practice coexisting with other ideas. They practice unfollowing, deleting, or swiping away from them. In the real world you can’t instantly exit a webpage or go to someone else’s post or unfollow someone nearly as easily.

Real humans are becoming too complex for us to handle.

This brings us to relationships today. You aren’t wrong. You do feel trapped and anxious when there is no way to easily exit or swipe away from something you dislike.  People are complex and you do feel like you can’t emotionally handle the differences. Your threshold for handling coexisting wills is decreasing. In other words, what feels toxic is increasing in every real-world experience. Friendships, dating relationships, even church. It’s much easier for you to look at porn than have a real complex relationship, to chat in digital rooms where you can bounce as soon as you are offended, to go to an online church where you only have to listen to the parts you like. The anxiety of the real and complex is becoming too much for you to handle. This is one of the reasons (there are others*) why you are lonely and you find everything and everyone toxic. Therefore, everything is becoming more polarized as we lose the ability to coexist and emotional fortitude to handle different people and ideas.

What do we do to restore the emotional fortitude required to have relationships with other actual humans?

Like working out an atrophied muscle, you must practice pushing into the discomfort of learning to hear other people and other ideas without constantly “swiping,” or running away. You must learn to be okay with someone who doesn’t see the world the same as you. You must learn to look people in the eye. Hold a hand. Have a debate. Compare ideas and work through them together. I am not asking you to join a gang or terrorist group, but commit to being in a group of people even when they think a little differently, and possibly even offend you. Resist the swipe. Join a chess club, get into a spin class, read a book with others, and debate it. Stop watching church online and show up. When someone says something that bothers you, don’t run away right away. Stick it out. Hear them out. Grow your ability to handle others. You might just find a best friend, maybe even your future spouse. If you marry them, you will need the ability to fight over the toilet seat being up or down. The effort and discomfort is worth the reward of real, committed relationship.

Lastly, please consider the two resources.

They are purposefully not academic and very accessible. If you want more, I have plenty of it. Or you could just Google it. 😉

  1. The Social Dilemma Documentary (What is happening.)
  2. The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher: (What to do.) This is a strong defense of the classic Christian way. It will trigger even some Christians. Read it, it’s good for you to be pushed. It’s not abuse to have someone not think exactly like you.

*There is a social upheaval that needs to be considered. This is a paper (more academic) I wrote awhile back pertaining to it. How did we get to cancel culture? A Christian Response to the Deconstruction of the West. https://mcolaw.wordpress.com/2021/10/12/a-christian-response-to-the-deconstruction-of-the-west/

There is no such thing as “Financial Independence.”

There is no such thing as “Financial Independence”.

We dream of the day no boss can tell us what to do.
We want to reclaim our most valuable resource, our time.
We want the freedom to choose to do as we please when we would like to do it.
This is a modern myth as a Christian.
Even if God financially blesses you to the point you don’t need from people wealthier than you, you never break free from the requirement to help those who have less than you.
There is no financial independence as a Christian.
Looking at the text below it appears it may be eternally riskier to be wealthy.

Matthew 25:31–46.

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Matthew 19:23-30 ESV

23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

The Glasses of Understanding (a parable)

The glasses of understanding.
γνῶσις
A Short Story by Mike and Emma Colaw

The bell rang, and Stephanie began to close her notebook. Mr. Palin must’ve noticed she wasn’t the only one anxious to leave class and declared over the long annoying end of class bell, “The bell doesn’t dismiss you; I do.”

Everyone stopped what they were doing and glared at him. Mr. Palin rolled his eyes in slight disgust noticing the bell really had diverted the class’s attention, and the tired old balding teacher groaned. “Fine, go to lunch…I will see you all tomorrow.” Before he even finished the last word, the class was already bustling with the sound of backpack zippers, books closing and kids starting to talk. 

Ninth grade is rough. C’mon, let’s be honest.
They say junior high is awkward with all the zits, young innocent friendships dying away and new exclusive social cliques forming. Not to mention, your body is doing…weird stuff. At least the upside of 8th grade is your age. Being the oldest in the school always made Stephanie feel a little more secure…zits and all. But 9th grade takes away that last line of security. You still have all that awkward junior high stuff, but now you’re the youngest. And let’s not forget lunch… the worst possible culmination of awkward for a lanky nerdy 9th grade girl who doesn’t feel like she fits in. And, to make her life even more miserable, Stephanie’s locker was on the other side of the school. She didn’t have time to take her already over-stuffed backpack to her locker before lunch. Feeling like a hunched overburdened camel, she walked into the lunchroom carrying her backpack (again). Her two best friends had third lunch and she was in first lunch… alone. You know, that lunch that’s at ten thirty in the morning. The lunch you’re not even hungry for but leaves you starving by the end of the day. Yeah, that lunch. 

Steph walked towards the lunch line and passed the two most uncomfortable tables. One was full of the older girls. The girls that have long surpassed zits and looked more like real women, but their personalities were still mean and selfish, like little girls. Not the best combination. The appearance of mature on the outside but bratty immaturity on the inside. Every pass of that table risks ridicule in some way. Worst of all that table reminded Steph she wasn’t beautiful. Or at least didn’t feel like it. The other table of doom was the table right before the lunch line. It was full of all the popular 9th grade girls. The ones that are immature in every way. Every time Steph passed that table, she had two thoughts: I wish I fit at that table and Why do people want to be in that group anyway? What made that table the most difficult wasn’t the popular mean girls, it was the fact that one of them was her best friend from 5th grade. Now it’s like Kelly doesn’t even know who she is. What’s even worse, the next class had almost all of them in it. Not that anyone is keeping score, but in the next class… Steph, no friends. Kelly, all of them. Or at least that’s how it felt when you sit three seats behind your old friend, and she pretends you don’t even exist. 

The lunch bell rang, and Steph closed her book and quit pretending to look satisfied, studious and on mission while sitting all alone in the corner of the lunchroom. Like ants walking in line after successfully pillaging a summer picnic the kids got up, filed in and dropped their trays off as they made their way to the hall.  Steph hated this transition. Her locker and class were on opposite sides of the school. Bustling as fast as she could through the busy high school halls, she made it to her locker while the one-minute warning bell rang. First spin of the locker combination failed. “Will I ever get this right on the first try?!” Steph muttered to herself. Second attempt and the locker opened. Without looking in it she opened her backpack and prepared to make the afternoon switch of books. When she turned to put her books in her locker, she noticed an old looking wooden box with a rusty looking latch. Surprised, she lifted the small wooden box up to take a closer look. A more thorough examination revealed an engraving on the top… γνῶσις. Whose is this? She thought. What do these marks mean?

Bing, bing bing… Oh no! The late bell… She was late to class. Steph grabbed her books and the small box and threw them into her backpack. Steph wasn’t the kind of girl who liked to be late to class. She didn’t like the attention. She took off quickly down the hall while zipping up her backpack and throwing it over her shoulder. 

As Steph approached the classroom door, she slowed down. Thoughts of the weird box quickly shifted to the impending awkward social moment before her, walking into class late. To clarify, walking into class late in front of Kelly. The same Kelly who used to be Steph’s best friend, but totally ignores her now and it’s super weird. Ok, honestly, it’s not that Kelly is mean. She just pretends she never knew Steph at all. Somehow that felt worse. Appearing frantic or awkward to those people wasn’t the kind of attention Steph wanted. So, as quiet as she could she walked in the room, made no eye contact and went to her seat. Mrs. Calwell, surprised to see her late to class simply asked her while she sat down.

“Steph, you okay?” Steph didn’t look up, she didn’t want the attention, and slid the rest of the way into her seat. 
She very softly responded, “Yes, Mrs. Calwell.”
“What was that dear?” The teacher said. 
Steph, cleared her throat and said louder, “Yes, I’m fine.” 

The social pressure pushed the box straight out of her mind. It’s funny how big things, interesting things, even good things can be forgotten when you are hyper aware of what people might think of you. Halfway through the class Mrs. Calwell let them read the next chapter for class. As Steph reached into her bag for her multicolored pen to take her usual orderly notes, she noticed the box again. Steph looked around the room. Everyone was quiet and reading. Mrs. Calwell was sitting at her desk working on something. Steph pulled out the box and quietly studied the markings closer… γνῶσις. What is it? She turned the box over and there was something in English. Is that new? she thought.  

Asleep, asleep, sleepy and sound, as the people bustle all around. 

Eyes wide open, but they can’t see, they are sleeping slaves far from free. Stephanie, you are given this gift, to see the ones who have gone adrift. 

See through me and you’ll wake up. But beware, beware, for if you do nothing around you will be enough.

Steph read the funny little rhyme a few times, flipped the box back over and twisted the latch. “Glasses?” she muttered out loud. Steph caught herself as the student next to her said, “Shh.” She pulled the weird looking glasses out of the box. They looked like spectacles out of an old movie. With curiosity she started to put them on. “Hey, what’s that?!” a poorly attempted whisper came from behind her. Steph quickly put them back in the box and whispered back, “Nothing, John.” 

Every school has a John. That one kid who seems to be about two years behind everyone else…in everything. Usually, Steph felt bad for him but in this moment… merely annoyed. At the risk of getting in trouble and not having a plan to handle John’s inability to actually whisper, she just put the glasses away. Steph sat there wishing she was better at thinking quick. The right thing to do and the right thing to say always seemed to come to her long after the moment she needed it. She tried to read her textbook and take notes, but her mind wandered. Where in the world did they come from? They couldn’t have been for her… but her name was on the bottom of that old box in that weird rhyme. 

It’s all so weird. Why do weird things happen to weird people? 

Class finally came to an end. Between gym and band, she didn’t have any time to mess with the glasses, but she couldn’t get them out of her mind. Finally, the day came to an end, and she headed to the busses. She climbed on the bus, made her way to her seat and opened her backpack. They usually assign two students to a seat but the person who was assigned to Steph usually sat with her two friends a few rows up. Sitting alone and looking down was common on the bus for Steph. Usually it was a book, now it was a weird box with glasses. 

Steph pulled out the box. She looked around one more time, making sure no one was looking at her. She flipped open the latch and opened the box. The glasses… changed. They looked, well… normal. Actually, kind of nice. She pulled them out and slowly put them on. At first nothing looked different. 

Steph looked up and over at weird John. He also sat by himself on the bus. As she looked at him, she could see… and feelso much more. The first thing that hit her was his face mask was gone. He looked sad. She could feel his sadness. His sadness was like visible mist. She was taking it in like breathing in steam during a hot shower. She was taking in how he experienced the world. She felt the feeling of alone moving across the aisle into her seat. She felt loneliness flooding from John into her like pouring a pitcher of water into a glass. A terrible knot grew in her stomach. She noticed soft mumbling whispers all around her but the whispers from John’s direction were loudest. Feeling a little afraid she pulled the glasses off. 

Normal… John looked normal. He was fine. Mask back on and playing a game on his phone like he always does. The whispers were gone too. There was the normal hum of the bus engine, kids talking and the sound of wind whistling past the window. Nothing abnormal. Steph slid the glasses back on and looked over at John. Again, the whispers, the sadness. It was back. Listening closely she heard a male voice yelling at him. You are such a loser; I can’t believe you’re my kid. You are destined to live in my basement forever. Then a teenage girls voice. One of Kelly’s friends. Steph recognized it. John, you smell! Kelly, that smell… it’s John, and his hair… John, do you ever get haircuts? As soon as that voice drifted off Steph could hear Mrs. Calwell. John, I’m still missing your homework. If you don’t turn it in… The sadness was pouring into her too quickly. Steph pulled off the glasses. 

What is this? What am I seeing? She looked over at John merely playing again on his phone. Steph was overwhelmed with compassion. John happened to look over at her and blurted out, “What are you staring at!?” 

Usually this would really bother Steph, but not this time. She just gave him a soft somewhat sad smile and looked back down at the glasses in her hand. Steph thumbed the frames of the glasses and thought deeply about what just happened. She heard John. Not heard him like, heard what he said, but heard like… she really understood where he is coming from. It took a bit to emotionally recover. 

After a few minutes she put the glasses back on and looked toward the two boys in the seat three rows up and on the right. As usual they were both looking down at one of their phones. She could see what looked like beautiful feminine translucent arms reaching up through the screen and wrapping their hands around the boy’s cheeks while fingers pushed through their hair. The beautiful soft hands were continually and gently pulling their faces down towards the screen. The arms didn’t just go back into the screen, they went through it. They were long. She followed the long arms as they went through the phone and even the floor of the bus. They were no longer beautiful but looked like tentacles on an octopus. Other tentacles went back up toward other seats on the bus. She could hear a whisper echoing around one of the boys. I should look away; I don’t want to do this. He will make fun of me if I say anything. She continued to follow the tentacle arms and looked deep into and through the ground. It all happened so fast. The earth gave way and deep screams echoed from what appeared to be tortured women abused on the other side of the world… Steph pulled off her glasses and instantly it all went away. The boys were just staring at their phone, like usual. Curious what they were looking at, she leaned forward and adjusted in her seat to get a peek at their phone. It was a video of naked women. Steph didn’t look long enough to know any more. Her heart was pounding. What was really on that screen? Not just the image but everything attached to it. She didn’t just see the boys and the phone, she understood the incredible complexity that led to the very moment. She felt the confusion and fear of the women somewhere below. She could feel the awkwardness of one of the boys, she could still feel the insatiable pull of the arms wanting them entranced. 

The bus came to a stop. It was her stop. Steph was in tears. Her heart was overwhelmed with compassion, sadness, and a deep desire to help, to rescue. She wasn’t mad at the boys or John. She felt very sad for them. They were more like prisoners, but to what?! For the first time in her life, she wished she could be a hero rather than hide. As she stood up and packed up her things a few of the kids noticed she was crying and made fun of her as she made her way to the front of the bus and walked off. Oddly, it didn’t bother her at all. What she watched, felt, and understood took her far above mere immature jabs from blind, sleepy, entranced teenagers. What they thought of her became powerless to what she could see and understand. It was a strange feeling to step above, to wake up, to see more. As Steph walked home, just a few blocks, still feeling overwhelmed, she put on her glasses and could see light emitting from homes. The homes had an eerie green glow and the whispers were at times so dark she had to turn away. She turned the last corner and noticed one home. A home that radiated a white light. As she walked towards it, she could feel warmth. The voices no longer mumbled; they were strong, clear, and good. It was all like a beautiful summer sunrise. Without thinking, as if something in her so desperately wanted to be there, she walked up to the front door and placed her hand on the knob. Before she could turn it someone on the inside opened it. Light flooded out, the innumerable mumbling voices that had grown distant and soft now totally disappeared and clear words rang true and deep. Chosen, forgiven, loved. She didn’t just hear them, she felt them, she believed them. Words that awoke a courage, a desire for adventure, and an internal security like she had never felt before. 

“What is it?!” γνῶσις

γνώναί τε την υπερβάλλουσαν της γνώσεως αγάπην του χριστού ίνα πληρωθήτε εις παν το πλήρωμα του θεού

A Christian response to the deconstruction of the West.

I have been trying to wrap my mind around the increasing geopolitical tensions that stand before us. My goal is to step out of the specific issues and work to understand the driving forces that perpetuate them. I suspect the riots, racial tension, hatred of government and even distrust in industry and education are the fruit of something much greater at work. My objective is to bring clarity to this. What makes us postmodern? How should the church respond?

This is the idea framework I will be building future blogs, sermons and ministries out of. Again, it is a work in progress. I am making more public what I often do privately. I would love feedback and continual insight from those that enjoy this.

The objective of this paper is to bring definition to the social and civil realities that face the Christian church as she ministers to the American Midwest young adult. This is not exhaustive. It is an attempt to look at what I believe is the prime tension, postmodernism. In this work I will take a brief look at the history of ideas, social structures, embodied social evidence for my hypothesis, and the broader cultural forces that drive the Midwestern, postmodern young adult. I will end by examining the book of Acts as a plausible answer. I will propose how a look at our Christian history can bring clarity to our future ministry. 

Defining terms as I will use them:

Modernity: An era described in the humanities and social sciences that is the result of the renaissance or the age of reason. The prime idea by those that adhere to the “modern” way of thinking is that the sciences and the scientific method will solve humanity’s problems. They are known to reject religion as antiquated and irrelevant at best and detrimental to human progress at worst.

Postmodernity: An era that is still forming itself. It is a reaction to the frustrations and disappointments of modernity’s perceived failures.  It hinges much of its functional ethic on the residue of Christianity and the civil disruption strategies of Marx and Nietzsche. At this point in its development its more reactionary than evolutionary. See below. 

Religion: A set of believed and practiced values that is seen as supremely important by its adherents. Religious people will evangelize, give their wealth to, emotionally follow and even sacrifice themselves to the ethic and structures they believe to be supremely important. 

Defining Society:

In Bishop Robert Barron’s lecture, Philosophers Who Shaped 2020[1], he lays out the idea roadmap that fosters the civil disruptions we see today. In chronological order, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Michel Foucault subsequently build on each other’s ideas to create a new way to view society. Marx’s famous book the Das Capitao puts forth the idea that likely originated from Feuerbach.[2] He believes we as humans tend to create extremes of what we experience in the world around us. For example, if we can know things, humans naturally assume there must be an all-knowing. If there is power, there must be an all-powerful. From this train of human thought Marx believed that we invented a fantasy world to encapsulate these ultimate ideas we now call religion. Hence his famous phrase, “Religion is the opium of the people.”[3] Not so much the joy of the people but the sum of their way of thinking. He believed that this does something to us negatively. It creates a world that we can never be satisfied in and works to give us, from his perspective, a false hope. The trajectory of Marx, Nietzsche, Sartre and Foucault is an ever sharpening of the point which is meant to do away with this social structure that they believed poisoned humanity. This is the prime idea they play out in many ways throughout their works. Their goal, which is primarily explained by Marx and Nietzsche, is to disrupt society until it must restart. This is done is by fostering friction leading to a revolution. To these men the goal isn’t to continue the progression of this socioeconomic world but to devastate it. To recreate a new “perspectivism” where groups can build whatever they want with subjective right and wrong and no ultimate to hold them back or give false hope. They wanted to erase objective morality and force society to start over.[4] Nietzsche was incredibly effective at reaching the masses with these ideas because of his eloquent aphoristic style of writing. These little disruptive bites of thought[5] are woven all through culture. You find the residue of Nietzsche in much pop culture literature even today. The leaders of the Modern era used the destructive idea tools of Marx and Nietzsche to remove religion and attack existing social structures. Modernity and its authors offered a new clear promise. Modernity promised that science, technology, and civil progress along with individual rights could unite humanity and fix many of our civil and social problems instead of religion and the old guard of civil structures. In other words, bring it all down and rebuild with the scientific method and individual equality.

As we fast forward to our age, we see something new developing. Pluckrose and Lindsay in their work, Cynical Theories, define our current societal upheaval as postmodern. The postmodern person’s summary of thought is that the promises of modernity didn’t fully work. We still feel empty (see below). We see this ever-present attitude even in the rise of dystopian stories in the creative arts.[6] Modernity has failed to deliver in ways that satisfy the masses. So, we find the postmodern person feeling desperate and dejected, left with empty promises and no clear future. The book Cynical Theories says it so well:

Postmodern thinkers reacted to modernism by denying the foundations of some aspects of Modern thought, while claiming that other aspects of Modern thinking didn’t go far enough. In particular, they rejected the underlying modernist desire for authenticity, unifying narratives, universalism, and progress, achieved primarily through scientific knowledge and technology. At the same time, they took the modernists’ relatively measured, if pessimistic, skepticism of tradition, religion, and Enlightenment-era certainty—along with their reliance on self-consciousness, nihilism, and ironic forms of critique—to extremes. Postmodernism raised such radical doubts about the structure of thought and society that it is ultimately a form of cynicism. Postmodernism is also a reaction to and rejection of modernity, meaning “the profound cultural transformation which saw the rise of representative democracy, the age of science, the supersedence of reason over superstition, and the establishment of individual liberties to live according to one’s values.” Although postmodernism openly rejects the possibility of the foundations that have built modernity, it has nevertheless had a profound impact on the thinking, culture, and politics of those societies that modernity built.[7]

A large portion of the postmodern populous is not merely moving forward from modernity, they are vehemently rejecting and trying to dismantle it. Postmodernity is “cynicism” embodied. Functionally the postmodern person is attacking the modern world with the same idea tools used to destroy the worldview before it. From the postmodern person’s perspective, modernity has failed, and just like their predecessors they want to start over again. 

The progressive left has aligned itself not with Modernity but with postmodernism, which rejects objective truth as a fantasy dreamed up by naive and/or arrogantly bigoted Enlightenment thinkers who underestimated the collateral consequences of Modernity’s progress.[8]

Postmodern Theory and liberalism do not merely exist in tension: they are almost directly at odds with one another. Liberalism sees knowledge as something we can learn about reality, more or less objectively; Theory sees knowledge as completely created by humans—stories we tell ourselves, largely in the unwitting service of maintaining our own social standing, privilege, and power.[9]

            The evidence is clear. Postmodernity isn’t really a forward step for humanity as much as it is an attempt to erase our past, again. It is an attempt to “start over.” It is a destruction, not a creation. Therefore, we see the very idea tools of Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche reemerging, albeit with new language and reformed axioms. We are yet again in an age of destruction, an age of erasing. 

Looking at society’s structures:

All humans are religious, even while many claim not to be. Subverting Global Myths challenges our global perspectives of personal rights, religion and even society. One group’s altruistic endeavor or national right can quickly become another group’s terrorist attack. The author even takes aim at the media for working to pin global violence on religion when in fact, as he supports below, atheistic administrations are extremely guilty of “religious” violence too. Arguably, even more so. There is no such thing as non-religious. 

Even the most “secular” of states worships such surrogate gods as “national security,” “market forces,” “technological imperatives,” “economic growth” and “patriotism.” The biblical term for such prostration before human creations is idolatry, and the propensity to idolatry is endemic in all human individuals and societies. Idols not only blind us to ultimate realities, but they exact a heavy price. They demand human sacrifices and, as we have learned painfully in recent years, wreak havoc on the nonhuman world.[1]

We are brought to a very important question: What is the superstructure that makes our civil actions right to us? The author continues by showing that we in the West are heavily influenced by part of Christian morality while rejecting its meta narrative. Even those who can understandably be critical of how Christianity and religion have been applied to society agree that Christian ethic is in American DNA.[10] The postmodern person wants moral law with no moral law giver. In essence the postmodern person wants morals with no divine moral compass. The postmodern person will evangelize their faith all while claiming there is no objective faith that needs to be adhered to. The reality is Christianity isn’t merely a set of subjective morals to adhere to. Its weight is in the belief in a supreme God, believing in divine guidance, believing in our origin from a divine mind that is intentional and personal. The postmodern person misses that religion’s power (especially Christianity) is in believing in a heavenly destination where all will be made right. The power of religion (again, especially Christianity) is believing that its morals are not subjective and that they transcend human preference. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 6:23 [11] There is weight in real belief. Moreover, many of the morals in scripture require one to walk in humility and may even require selflessness, possibly unto death. What drives us to practice charity at great personal cost? Knowing this life is not the end and the faithful will be rewarded. 

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 13 You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” [12]

            Since modern man has partially embraced Christian morals without heaven’s hope, we find them “held captive by fear and death” and an insatiable need to define right and wrong based on their own pseudo “Christian” definitions of justice. 

In the absence of biblical hope, which is grounded neither in futurology nor in romantic (man-made) utopias but in the promises of God, entire societies are held captive to the merchants of fear and death. [13]

            Our current structures are both Christian and antichristian. Many of our movements from abortion clinics to the LGBTQ agenda have a desire for justice and individual rights that originate in Christian morality and yet reject other parts of Christianity. This lack of objective truth and hope also makes a type of religious zealot. One that will hurt anyone, give fully of themselves and demand adherents all while saying moral right and wrong is subjective. Look for the cognitive dissonance. The voices that demand the poor single pregnant teenager undergo an abortion to help with the mother’s hardships has the residue of Christianity. Yet, they lose the total picture of a Christian ethic by aborting the baby. Unlike the postmodern subjective ethic, Christians can look at people, even their own, who don’t take care of the mother well and call both the abandonment of the mother and the abortion sin. The postmodern subjective ethic is creating a cognitive dissonance and it is the fundamental tension much of the culture lives in. It doesn’t work. By rejecting an objective law giver and a hope that a good God will make all things right they are devolving into “religious” tribal extremists. We are not progressing; we are devolving into tribalism. 

Ramachandra also details what a right Judeo-Christian tradition looks like and how it offers a unique emphasis on human rights and civil harmony. An objective ethic beyond human preferences is necessary and it is what makes Christianity, when rightly applied, incredibly effective at civil charity. This requires not only the charity of Jesus in this life but the hope of heaven for the next. [14] I will address this divine therapeutic more below. 

The embodied evidence we see in culture: 

            Outside of recognizing society’s philosophies we also can know a culture’s foundational belief by the evolution of their practiced holidays and accepted art. In the subsequent section any prolific reader will quickly note that many of the mentioned Christian activities aren’t Christian in their origin. I agree, and that idea alone deserves a critical eye through multiple lenses far beyond this paper. The way Christianity redeems practices rather than makes new ones is very important to note. In a sense, Christianity isn’t a cultural practice but a shaper of cultural practices. Christ took the cross, a torture device from ancient Rome, and made it into an emblem of love and redemption. This modality of redemption is prevalent where Christianity is practiced well and many of the practices we now believe to be Christian are a redeemed practice from another culture. For the sake of brevity, I will intentionally leave out this important history and merely report on what currently is practiced broadly in the American Midwest.  

            The United States has 12 permanent federal holidays according to the Congressional Research Service R41990:

The United States has established by law the following 12 permanent federal holidays, listed in the order they appear in the calendar: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday, Inauguration Day (every four years following a presidential election), George Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Juneteenth National Independence Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. Although frequently called public or national holidays, these celebrations are only legally applicable to federal employees and the District of Columbia, as the states individually decide their own legal holidays.[15]

            The above report also gives the history to each of these holidays. The heart of a country is seen in its nationally recognized celebrations. On June 28, 1870 the observance of these holidays was put into law: New Year’s day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. 

            On June 28, 1870, the first federal holidays were established for federal employees in the District of Columbia. Apparently drafted in response to a memorial drafted by local “bankers and business men,” the June 28 act provided that New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Christmas Day, and “any day appointed or recommended by the President of the United States as a day of public fasting or thanksgiving [were] to be holidays within the District [of Columbia].” This legislation was drafted “to correspond with similar laws of States around the District,” and “in every State of the Union.”[16]

This, along with many other examples, show how deeply aspects of Christianity were woven into the fabric of the United States. The evolution of new holidays like Martin Luther King Day and Juneteenth also speak to a fundamental Christian ethic. From the celebration of Christmas to the newer holidays like the aforementioned ones, there is no doubt the ideas and ethic of Christianity are in us by evidence of our celebrations. We are a country in trajectory of giving equal rights to all humanity. 

Galatians 3:25-29

But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. [17]

We should acknowledge Christianity was prevalent in the United States while sinful things like human trafficking, slavery or the oppression of women existed, but it’s equally clear that a Christian ethic has worked like a therapeutic to eliminate them. This journey is evident by our history of holidays alone and shows the effectiveness of Christianity. 

            We are even working to give value rights to those the Christian would see as sinful. We look to the heroes of today that will possibly shape the celebrations of the future. Today we have people like Ellen DeGeneres,[18] an outspoken homosexual who is also a syndicated television talk show star. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple technologies and arguably one of the most successful executives ever, who is also a well-known proponent of homosexuality.[19] Even people like Colin Kaepernick, a professional athlete who started the movement of refusing to stand during the singing of the National Anthem to be a disruption that brought attention to minorities.[20] As you expand the circle of cultural heroes to include the creative arts we see Black Panther (note Killmonger was also made to be given sympathy), Black Widow and the new Amazon.com’s version of Cinderella. They celebrate minorities, women, and even transexual people. The Christian ethic values human life, all life, even the lives of those who are from other nations and socioeconomic status. Christians even value the life of those who aren’t Christian. I point this out only to show the cultural progression. Ironically, the postmodern person who rejects Christianity enjoys the freedoms they now have because of a Christian prime rubric that highly values all people. Ironically, as the postmodern person rejects Christianity, they will lose the ethic that set them free. We already can see it. We don’t have Christian tolerance for all anymore; we have tribalism emerging that requires no obligation to tolerate those who believe differently. Where does this lead?

Culture’s Force and Movement:

Even now, as postmodern ideas work to dismiss not only religion but modernity, we are finding people not joining together but delineating into this tribalism. This is noticed by not only Christians but relatively secular groups too. A broadly read pop culture magazine called The Atlantic offers an interesting article in which Shadi Hamid makes this problem clear. 

But if secularists hoped that declining religiosity would make for more rational politics, drained of faith’s inflaming passions, they are likely disappointed. As Christianity’s hold, in particular, has weakened, ideological intensity and fragmentation have risen. American faith, it turns out, is as fervent as ever; it’s just that what was once religious belief has now been channeled into political belief. Political debates over what America is supposed to mean have taken on the character of theological disputations. This is what religion without religion looks like.[21]

The Atlantic continues this thought by noting the emerging tribalism that is happening in our country. To the postmodern, the belief is religion, the empty promises of modernity and current societal structures are what keep us divided and cause most of the suffering. Yet as they begin to tear them to the ground something is emerging, they don’t entirely know what to do with. It is the new tribalism.

When we think of tribalism, we tend to focus on the primal pull of race, religion, or ethnicity. But partisan political loyalties can become tribal too. When they do, they can be as destructive as any other allegiance. The Founders understood this. In 1780, John Adams wrote that the “greatest political evil” to be feared under a democratic constitution was the emergence of “two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other.” George Washington, in his farewell address, described the “spirit of party” as democracy’s “worst enemy.” It “agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection.”

The causes of America’s resurgent tribalism are many. They include seismic demographic change, which has led to predictions that whites will lose their majority status within a few decades; declining social mobility and a growing class divide; and media that reward expressions of outrage. All of this has contributed to a climate in which every group in America—minorities and whites; conservatives and liberals; the working class and elites—feels under attack, pitted against the others not just for jobs and spoils, but for the right to define the nation’s identity. In these conditions, democracy devolves into a zero-sum competition, one in which parties succeed by stoking voters’ fears and appealing to their ugliest us-versus-them instincts.[22]

The evidence is damning. By the works of western philosophical thought, cultural practices of the current day and by the emerging heroes we celebrate, we find ourselves in a postmodern world, a disappointed world that feels as if it was given false promises. A world that has cognitive dissonance with a deep desire for charity and selflessness to be practiced but no hope of a heaven, a time where all will be rewarded and made right.

Our culture demands charity while stealing away power. They scream over others to be heard, they flip cars, pillage stores and burn buildings while demanding a fair and just society. Most notably, they like parts of our Christian morality, their own salvific history, but reject its divine origin and culmination. In this confusion there is a rising group of people who just want to start over. So, they do as noted above. They turn to the ideas of Marx and Nietzsche again. Not as a hope to believe in but an idea weapon to destroy culture yet again. We need to stop seeing postmodern people as the problem but the product of something The Age of Reason started, and Modernity culminated. The postmodern person is not the sickness but the symptom. They are not our enemy; they are the culmination of us. 

A lesson from the Trinity:

Seeing this through the lens of the Trinity also creates a level of understanding. Dr. Aaron Perry made the case that manmade social constructs operating at their best are to mirror the Trinitarian God. Each of the three branches of the Trinity represent an important attribute that is required for a healthy community to function. The first of the branches is truth, representing the Father. It is the prime compass for understanding what is real and good. Truth is not something humans create; it is something we acknowledge and submit to. The second branch is embodiment, representing Jesus the Son. It is the truth personified perfectly. Knowing truth and embodying it are both required for community to be practiced well. The third of the branches is the ethos, representing the Holy Spirit. The Trinitarian family is the original and perfect rubric for community. This includes everything from families to societies. The way this perfect family interacts theologians call Perichoresis[23], or perfect relating. As David Guretzki stated in his lecture at the Wesley Symposium, Satan’s war on societies has always been centered on the enemy attacking the Trinitarian family model. He will attack submission to an objective truth, the Father. The enemy will attack the agreed upon proper embodiment of truth, Jesus Christ. He will even attack a community’s ethos, the Spirit.  When this falls so will a society.[24] Guretzki goes on to say that “God is working to redeem all things. In the eschaton right order will rightly facilitate human experience.”[25] In other words, the perfect human experience is humanity fully embracing Perichoresis as the model for living. Perfect human families and societies are humans fully embracing the Trinitarian family. 

A lesson from Acts:

            We are not the first to face a decaying disillusioned culture full of prejudice. The Book of Acts is the story of God’s people in a culture that looks very similar to ours. Tribal, disenfranchised, angry, vengeful, and full of a twisted, poisoned version of religion. As Christianity began to emerge in this cacophony of cultures, Christians themselves faced rejection and persecution. Listen to Baker’s Encyclopedia of the Bible describe the cultural bed of Acts.

Persecution against the church in Jerusalem (8:1–3) under Saul’s auspices led to dispersion of Jerusalem Christians into the surrounding regions of Judea and Samaria to the north. Philip’s mission into Samaria is of particular significance because of a longstanding bitterness and animosity between Jews and Samaritans, going back to very early times (see the words of a Samaritan woman to Jesus: “for Jews have no dealings with Samaritans,” Jn 4:9). The Jews regarded Samaritans as racial and religious half-breeds;[26]

I believe we can develop a plan for the future by learning from our past. First, we begin with prayer. We pray for a divine outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Unlike most of all the notable sources above, we are Christian in the sense that we believe God is very real, Jesus truly lived and He really did die and rise again. We believe in the power of prayer and believe in heaven. We are secure and the best part of us can never be stolen away. We believe God will make all things right in the end. So, we begin with fervent grounded prayer. We pray that there would be an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in us and through us to these people. Pray their confusion and disillusionment would be a doorway to hear an ancient and glorious hope, Jesus.

            Acts 2:1-4 

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. [27]

Next, we proclaim. We move, like a child learning to walk, with one step being prayer and the next being proclamation. We take every opportunity we can to tell of the good news of Jesus, what He has done and what He is doing today. We invite people to join. Always proclaiming. Always inviting. 

            Acts 2:14-21

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: 17    ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” [28]

            Like a child learning to walk, we are going somewhere, our eyes are set on a destination, our Father. We, in our adolescence and imperfection, toddle through society and do good while focusing on Jesus. We reach out to the sick, we lift up the broken hearted, we pray for the sick to be healed, we gather the lonely and we show the world what the heart and family of God looks like. 

Acts 5:12-16

12 Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. 13 None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. 14 And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. 16 The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed. [29]

The state of this world shows how discouraged the postmodern person is. In us is a desire for life to be “fairer, freer, and less cruel,”[30] yet every time the postmodern person does this for one group another suffers. Again, postmodernity isn’t a forward step from modernity but heart-breaking realization that man only makes messes. The problem is in us. We need saved from an indwelling sin. The foremost thinkers, even secular ones as noted above, are already realizing that true equity isn’t possible, and I fear what will come next. To use a pop culture metaphor, we are beginning to see that a Capital City (Hunger Games) can only exist if the other districts decay. As this reality hits the masses the people will war over who gets to be “The Capital.” My prayer is that some will see this and become exceedingly hungry for a real divine charitable love. To those few we must make Christ clear! Just like in Acts. We cannot run from this brokenness but align even closer with Christ, the perfect embodiment of Truth, and take the Trinitarian culture back into the world. As Dr. Walter Kim would say, “There is a movable middle,”[31] a group of people that have not rejected Christ and long for a glorious family. Their hearts are warmed to the Gospel, but they have yet to be called into it. Our objective is to pursue, call and disciple these people. Our goal is to teach them the way of Perichoresis, the way of the Trinity, the way of our eternal home.

Resources:

  1. Barron, Robert. “Ideas Have Consequences: The Philosophers Who SHAPED 2020.” YouTube. YouTube, September 18, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KQcm0Mi5To&t=9s
  2. Colin Kaepernick. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colin_Kaepernick
  3. “Congressional Research Service R41990.” Federal Holidays: Evolution and Current Practices, July 1, 2021. https://sgp.fas.org/crs/misc/R41990.pdf.
  4. Ellen DeGeneres. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellen_DeGeneres
  5. Guretzki, David. Lead 725 Transformational Leadership Symposium at Wesley Seminary. September 21, 2021
  6. Hamid, Shadi. “America without God.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, March 11, 2021. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/04/america-politics-religion/618072/. 
  7. Haselby, Sam. “Perspective | What Politicians Mean When They Say the United States Was Founded as a Christian Nation.” The Washington Post. WP Company, April 1, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/07/04/what-politicians-mean-when-they-say-america-was-founded-as-a-christian-nation/. 
  8. Manfred T. Brauch, “Acts of the Apostles, Book of The,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 20.
  9. Kim, Walter. Lead 725 Transformational Leadership Symposium at Wesley Seminary. September 24, 2021
  10. Perry, Aaron. Lead 725 Transformational Leadership Symposium at Wesley Seminary. September 20, 2021
  11. Pluckrose, Helen; Lindsay, James A.. Cynical Theories . Pitchstone Publishing. Kindle Edition.  
  12. Ramachandra, (p. 13). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.
  13. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016
  14. Tim Cook. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Cook
  15. Popular dystopian pop culture stories: Nineteen Eight-Four by George Orwell, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Brave New World by Aldus Huxley, Blindness by Jose Saramago, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Giver by Lois Lowry, The Stand by Stephen King, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. 

[1] Barron, Robert. “Ideas Have Consequences: The Philosophers Who SHAPED 2020.” YouTube. YouTube, September 18, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KQcm0Mi5To&t=9s. 

[2] Barron, Robert. 4:01

[3] Barron, Robert. 6:05

[4] Barron Robert. 16:31

[5] Barron, Robert. 13:24

[6] See a list of popular dystopian stories in the Reference section. 

[7] Pluckrose, Helen; Lindsay, James A.. Cynical Theories . Pitchstone Publishing. Kindle Edition.

[8] Pluckrose, Lindsay, Kindle Edition. Locaton 88

[9] Pluckrose, Lindsay, Kindle Edition. Location 3954

[10] Sam Haselby, “Perspective | What Politicians Mean When They Say the United States Was Founded as a Christian Nation,” The Washington Post (WP Company, April 1, 2019), https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/07/04/what-politicians-mean-when-they-say-america-was-founded-as-a-christian-nation/.

[11] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ro 6:23.

[12] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mt 5:1–14.

[13] Ramachandra, Vinoth. Subverting Global Myths: Theology and the Public Issues Shaping Our World (p. 10). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[14] Ramachandra, (p. 13). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[15] “Congressional Research Service R41990.” Federal Holidays: Evolution and Current Practices, July 1, 2021. https://sgp.fas.org/crs/misc/R41990.pdf. 

[16] Congressional Research Service, pg. 1,2 

[17] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ga 3:25–29.

[18] Ellen DeGeneres. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellen_DeGeneres

[19] Tim Cook. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Cook

[20] Colin Kaepernick. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colin_Kaepernick

[21] Hamid, Shadi. “America without God.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, March 11, 2021. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/04/america-politics-religion/618072/. 

[22] Chua, Amy; Rubenfeld, Jed. “The Threat of tribalism” https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/10/the-threat-of-tribalism/568342/

[23] Perry, Aaron. Lead 725 Transformational Leadership Symposium at Wesley Seminary. September 20, 2021

[24] Guretzki, David. Lead 725 Transformational Leadership Symposium at Wesley Seminary. September 21, 2021

[25] Guretzki, David. 

[26] Manfred T. Brauch, “Acts of the Apostles, Book of The,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 20.

[27] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ac 2:1–4.

[28] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ac 2:14–21.

[29] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ac 5:12–16.

[30] Pluckrose, Helen; Lindsay, James A.. Cynical Theories . Pitchstone Publishing. Kindle Edition.  

[31] Kim, Walter. Lead 725 Transformational Leadership Symposium at Wesley Seminary. September 24, 2021

The Gospel is becoming more offensive.

Many want to make the gospel more attractive. It took a long time for me to unpack what people meant by this and I am still working it out. For some, it’s as simple as keeping the church tidy and making sure your greeters pop a breath mint. For others, it’s hiding culturally unpopular Christian beliefs in the shadows or trying to dress them up as worldly as possible. At best, the hope is that cynical people will put up with Jesus followers long enough to maybe choose to follow Him. At worst, we want to remake Jesus so modern people will like Him.

In reading through the Gospels there is one way people come to Jesus.

It’s through humility.

Being undone.

Letting go of this world.

Complete brokenness.

You can’t follow Jesus with caveats. The Gospel is offensive to people who want to keep defining right and wrong by their own standards. Christianity isn’t a tool to validate preferred ethics but to supplant them. It means there is a heavenly Kingdom ethic you must accept and a worldly one you must denounce. The disposition of a person ready to hand their lives over to Jesus is one who is totally humbled. In Christianity everyone is welcome and is seen as an eternally valuable child of God. Yet, those that really choose to accept the call of Jesus are not left the same. There is an inclusion and exclusion in the Gospel. God pulls us through a painful filter of humility. This process is such a big deal Jesus pushes it on people who come to him with no externally visible sin issue, like the rich young ruler. This humility process is mandatory. You must be offended and face your offenses first. You cannot follow Jesus and bring another ethic along. You cannot follow Jesus without first being undone. All are welcome, only the undone will actually follow Him.

I believe we are in a season where the church as we know it will split into two roads. Today many are still a valid church. In 20 years many will no longer be the church at all. One road will slowly sacrifice more and more of the Gospel for cultural acceptance and the other will slowly lose cultural acceptance for the Gospel. I believe God is allowing (maybe forcing) this divide to happen. Pause and look at your own heart. What road are you on? Are you trying to change the Gospel or are you letting the Gospel change you? The churches that center on the Gospel will become increasingly less attractive. The churches that center on attraction will be increasingly less church.

We cannot undo Jesus. Jesus requires we begin our journey undone so we can be made into something better than we were before.

Mark 10:17-27

Matthew 7:14

Mark 7:24-30

2 Kings 5

Critical Race Theory, Systemic Racism and The Ickabog

J.K. Rowling wrote an excellent little book called The Ickabog. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. In the book there is a monster that hides in the deep fog. There is evidence of it, yet no one knows if it’s actually real. The king is certain he has seen it. In the wake of uncertainty of the monster’s actual existence some of his sly top advisors have found a way to use the very real FEAR of the Ickabog to gain a lot of power and make a lot of money. I won’t spoil the end of the book, but as you read it you begin to see the power of fear mongering Ickabogs. You see it when you hear of undercover FBI agents pretending to be political extremists who end up recruiting and training people to be real extremists who weren’t extreme before the undercover agents found and trained them. This type of entrapment might be as much a producer of evil as it is a force to stop it. The fear of the Ickabog attacks can make the attacks actually happen, even if the Ickabog was never real at all. You see it when a young black man is terrified to be stopped by a white police officer. The young black man is convinced something awful is going to happen. The white police officer is also convinced of this. The black man’s heart races. The white cop’s heart pounds in his chest. One has his hand on the door ready to run and the other on his gun ready to defend. Statistics are on the side that this should be a non-violent event. Yet the relentless marketing of the deadly Ickabog makes this should be benign stop actually become malignant.

The fear of the Ickabog has become the force behind the violence, necessity of control, and need for us to give our freedom and finances away to powerful people. Can you see it? The stories and rumors of fear and suffering can end up making more real fear and suffering events happen. Is the Ickabog now real? Independent of whether it is real or not it has real power. J.K. Rowling has a very interesting answer to this in her story. Again, I won’t spoil it, but I will say this. You will read this book and grow very discontent with loud powerful voices that make a lot of money off Ickabog rumors and fear mongering. They make real evil happen from the pounding marketing of fear.

Jesus was great at taking on the Ickabog rumors. Jesus did such a great of job of continuing to press into a person until the motivation behind their sin was exposed. You cannot read the New Testament in its entirety and not notice that charity and reconciliation for even our enemies is a prime mantra. The enemy of Jesus wasn’t people but the evil that has their hearts. Charity and reconciliation are two words that Jesus embodied. I love the way the apostle Paul phrased it, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” Ephesians 6:12. Charity and reconciliation are some of the highest vales in the Kingdom of God. We must learn to love people and expose and articulate the real evil engines that drive much of the modern depravity in them. The true enemy of the black man isn’t the white cop. It’s the fear mongering, the exaggerators, the whispers that the Ickabog will get you that drive much of the misery and somehow manifest real Ickabog attacks…that only work to drive more fear and steal more freedom.

When a wise teacher sees two teens fighting on the playground she not only separates them, she looks for the person who instigated it. The one taking bets on the side. An even wiser teacher learns how to shut down the lies, exaggerations, jealousy, and fear that give opportunity to this. She learns to expose the WHISPERERS themselves that say the Ickabog will get you if you don’t do something drastic. Jesus knew his first followers didn’t primarily need saved from Rome. All humanity needed saved from the lies of the devil.

Can you see it?

You will make the Ickabog the monster you believe it to be.

Just maybe the Ickabog isn’t a monster at all. Maybe it too is a victim of something deeper that Jesus exposed.

I personally do not see those that fear the vaccination or those that hate the people that do fear it as the enemy. I do not see minorities, immigrants, white or black people as the enemy. We are all so affected by the Ickabog rumors. In the wake of fear mongering, all white cops become racists. All immigrants become gang members. All black people become socialists who want to destroy America. All white people become evil monsters who want to reinstate slavery.

My friends, stop!

You will be filled with the very anger, fear and jealousy you claim to be above. Call out the engines that perpetuate this. See what is making money, stealing your freedom and demanding power. Jesus will not save you from immigrants, white people or black people. His goal is NOT to do away with societies or police officers in this church age. His goal isn’t to tear America to the ground or deify it as perfect. Jesus wants to save ALL people from the sin that is poisoning their hearts. Open your spiritual eyes and see what is happening. Fight to maintain a charitable disposition and seek reconciliation.

There is no other way.

We are destined to willingly walk into social hell without confessing our own hearts inclination towards Ickabog rumors (even if some are true) and the subsequent hate they produce. We need the work and heart of Jesus.