Some people spend years learning theology and studying the Bible, but experience little or no transformation in their lives. What have we gotten wrong? Dr. Jim Wilder is a neurotheologian—that means he studies theology and brain science—who says we’ve mistakingly made the gospel about knowledge when it’s actually about attachment. You don’t want to miss what he has to say about the importance of food, joy, and gratitude in spiritual formation. Also this week, how does having power—or not having it—influence our beliefs? David French says America is experiencing a religious fundamentalist revival, but it’s not Christian. And is the Holy Post guilty of being an echo chamber?
There are few public thinkers the Holy Post cites more often than David French, and he’s finally here in person! (Well, in person via Zoom.) French is the Senior Editor of The Dispatch, a columnist for Time, and a pro-life conservative attorney. Although many Christians are worried about the erosion of religious liberty, French says, “We have never enjoyed more religious liberty than we do right now.”
The problem is that Christians are losing cultural power, and our attempts to retain it are often doing more harm than good. He helps us understand recent Supreme Court rulings about religious liberty and LGBT rights, why conservatives who are against face masks aren’t really pro-life, and how both the Left and Right get racism wrong. French explains why he will not vote for Trump, and why evangelicals have gone from holding their noses to enthusiastic support of a president who lacks both character and competency. Plus, what is “David Frenchism” and should we be worried about it?
Back in 2016, Donald Trump gave a campaign speech promising that if elected “Christianity will have power.” The Holy Post crew discusses why this message has so much appeal to some Christians today, the way fear has come to mark our faith, and what we can do to counteract the trend. After the podcast is interrupted by a tornado, Christian asks if we’re seeing signs of the apocalypse. Skye says, “No” and shares his idea for a sermon titled “How Stupid Do We Think God Is?” Plus, listener mail.
and uh so there were tornado warnings it
doesn’t appear that any actual tornadoes
did any damage anywhere at least not
that i’ve heard chicago they touched
in like the river north area rogers park
park really oh my goodness
wow that’s densely populated um
we lost like um half a tree here
and that was all but uh over in our
power just barely went out but came back
on my mom a few
uh two suburbs over in wheaton lost
like 20 hours and uh whole streets
in wheaton were impassable because of
so it was some power lines i saw
and yeah i was driving by on naperville
road and like
fences that lined the street were kind
of blown over
wow we lost one big tree branch but
other than that we were safe so i was
i’m sure there’s not a lot of people
that can say that any trees down in your
no actually this area wasn’t too bad
just little branches here and there but
you know the fact that it’s 20 20 i’m
just happy we didn’t have like blood
blooded in the streets or yeah you know
fall in on us or something a bug of
right uh jason how’s uh aurora
it actually didn’t hit here very hard at
all i was really
i thought we’d get a hit a lot harder
but it was you know a couple tree
things like that didn’t ever lose power
at all the whole steeple on college
is gone yeah the old one or the new one
not the new one
not the the little one on the back part
of the church or the
okay yeah yeah they lost a steeple
that seems like it could be god’s
judgment i mean that’s clearly
a storm blows the steeple off your
but at what point let me just stop you
and just ask
because i know our listeners are
thinking that at what point
do you look at 2020 and then begin to
is this something apocalyptic like
i mean it just keeps coming the hits
just keep coming and
there is good biblical precedent for god
using the you know nature and animals to
like you know pour out his wrath and
uh-huh skye no just no
so never at any point truthfully i want
to know for sure
never at any point do you never ever
think i do
wonder what god is doing here no i never
really i don’t phil i really don’t like
when it comes to storms and stuff like
that no i
don’t yeah but i know not just one storm
would you okay but christian christian
it’s a global it’s a global pandemic
it was a local storm in iowa and
it’s like how do you can’t it doesn’t
make sense i am
not talking about that i am not just
talking about a global pandemic and one
storm if you took
all of the events of 2020
and you lump them together you have to
it it’s the tragic the tragic death of
the what else i mean the pandemic
the olympics got canceled that was
george george floyd yeah i mean
and if you just take out the pandemic
this would be a pretty normal year
yeah we have stuff like this fairly
often it’s the pandemic
we also had the flying locusts
that we’re taking all over the sandstorm
like i mean it’s just that happens all
the time we just don’t report it
because it’s something things are worse
than normal because of the pandemic yes
yes yes because of the pandemic there
was a pandemic just like this
a hundred years ago and that wasn’t
the end of the world clearly but okay
i want to go back to this question phil
you have to answer it okay
ever in your mind do you never think
gee i wonder what god is doing maybe
there is something we should learn
maybe something is going to happen do
you never those thoughts
there is always something we should
learn i don’t think god is pushing
around weather patterns
or viruses to send secret messages to us
because he’s already given us his word
which tells us what we need to know
that’s true and i don’t think he knocked
kobe bryant’s helicopter out of the air
and i don’t think he inspired kanye west
to run for president
and i don’t think i mean if you look at
the 20th century there was
the 20th century was so much worse than
what we have so far in the 21st century
in terms of chaos and death and violence
and pestilence so it’s
it’s just hard to say but you know we
didn’t experience most of it firsthand
we missed most of it we weren’t born
so you know everyone thinks that the
experiences of their lifetime
are the most impactful experiences that
have ever happened
because they’re the most impactful
experiences that have ever happened to
which is you know a little bit of
um disney princess
because it’s happening to me it has
great biblical meaning um but yeah
people have always pointed to current
and said this is it god’s judging or
doing or whatever
you know and it’s like it’s like
predicting the second coming the only
we know for absolutely sure is that
who has ever predicted a date for the
has been wrong that’s true
except there is stuff that we do know we
do know that he will come in the clouds
and every eye will see him
what does that have to do that has
nothing to do with that has nothing to
do with predicting your knowledge
right okay that’s true but it does mean
that we will be able to see him when he
and they’re right in other words it’s he
did when and he even says this he said
when someone says here there’s the you
know don’t believe it because it’s not
going to be a subtle thing
he’s not going to come back as the
invisible man right
and you have to look for the the uh the
hand print on the shower glass door
like in the movie it’s not going to be
like that but do you not think that
there’s going to be
anything that leads up to his coming at
all there’s like
no warning signs it’s just going to be
like bam he’s there
i think all of the traffic signals start
flash purple come on seriously i’m
asking a serious question
i don’t know firing minds i don’t know i
um when i was 19 years old working for
my first video production job and i got
sent out to
salt lake city utah to train on my first
system i had a a classmate who was
a few years older he was like 25.
he had already been married and divorced
and we were talking
and i wanted to find out why and he said
that he read the book the late great
planet earth by hal
lindsey which made everybody go nutty
for end times prophecy
and he was so convinced that the world
was about to end
that he thought i don’t want it to end
before i get married
so he rushed into a marriage so that he
could have the experience of being
before the world ended and it was a huge
and he ended up at 25 divorced and that
that that imprinted on me i thought
go crazy and make terrible decisions
when they focus too much on trying to
predict the end times
so i’m not going to do that so ever
i’ve just thought okay it is going to
happen and we do not know when
and that is all we’ve been told we
absolutely need to know
the funny thing is part of the reason
jesus and the apostles later talk about
the end and the coming judgment and all
that sort of stuff
is so that we would prepare and we would
take urgent action but the urgent
action they call us to take is action
character and holiness and virtue it’s
be loving and kind and patient and
you know all the fruit of the spirits so
the irony is that this guy you’re
mentioning goes out and
essentially runs into a sexual
relationship because he doesn’t want to
miss out on the opportunity
which is the total opposite of what he’s
supposed to do he’s supposed to be more
self-controlled more patient
more kind and it’s just funny to me that
we apply this eschatological stuff to
our lives and then can
take away the polar opposite biblical
message of the
one that jesus and his apostles gave us
trying to gain the system it seems like
to to our own advantage
yes yeah and i i tend to strongly
react against going to extremes
i like to moderate i like to stay in the
yeah to to a fault to a fault that i you
know there are times where i should be
up in arms or and i’m not because i
my my tendency is to try to moderate
my response at all times so when i
see theology that uh tends to
produce extremes of behavior in people
i kind of have a natural innate pushback
you know to that sort of wow if that if
believing if interpreting that verse
makes you behave like that ah i’m i’m
i’m gonna back away from that
maybe good may be bad i don’t know i
just don’t like freaking out
well i appreciate y’all’s perspective on
that okay i’m sure our listeners do too
so thank you for going so
i have a big branch down in my yard i am
not going to go out
and stand next to it and look for jesus
in the sky
i don’t think they’re connected and i’m
not saying you think that christian i’m
that no i’m just saying sometimes i do
wonder like i just i mean i desperately
christ to come back and his kingdom to
be established on earth and things to be
all right the world and so i think
part of me hopes like okay maybe it is
so bad right now and that’s because
something exciting is gonna happen
or you don’t think this is exciting
this is an extremely exciting good i
mean exciting good
good exciting i think most of the
warnings in in scripture
are about not being ready in the sense
jesus comes back and you’re not walking
in the way of jesus
right so the solution
is not to try to run you know figure out
which which russian
nation your european union is going to
what and the where and the how
it’s just walk in the way of jesus and
regardless of when it happens
he’s gonna you’re gonna be fine you’re
gonna be right
you’re gonna be fine and if someone says
hey would you like the mark of the beast
say no probably not i’ll pass
no i don’t think so i don’t think i want
that uh that doesn’t mean it’s upc
codes it doesn’t mean it’s a vaccine it
doesn’t mean it’s a microchip
that like the ones we put in our dogs so
that we don’t lose them one day that’s
not the mark of the beast
you’re not gonna i think was it was it
um juan hernandez who said this last
or two weeks ago at okoboji said because
people were asking about the mark of the
beast he was teaching on revelation and
you you will not accidentally get the
mark of the beast
if there is a literal mark of the beast
it won’t be something that you realize
oh crap i got i thought i was just
i thought i just was downloaded the
and now i’ve got the mark of the beast
that’s like if there is a literal mark
of the beast
it’s not going to sneak up on you you
will have to opt into it
you know related to that phil i have
been debating putting together a sermon
and it’s it’s working title is how
stupid do we
think god is
isn’t that jesus that’s your next book
it could be how stupid do we think god
is because for to your point
if the mark of the beast is something
that a faithful christian might
accidentally stumble into
and acquire in some way you think god is
as to say oh sorry you’re out now
because you accidentally downloaded that
app and you accidentally got that
vaccination when you were six months old
you forced not that it’s ridiculous you
thought you were signing up for your gas
frequent buyer program but you got
the mark of the beast so and i think
this relates to a whole bunch of
different areas of our of our
public christian lives and different
things that go on but we i really think
a lot of christians genuinely believe
god is truly stupid
and that’s why they’re so fearful that
they don’t make any missteps
but or don’t think that that’s yes i
i absolutely do no he just he just wants
the alternative view sky jatani dear
friend of mine
is is that he expects us to be smart
enough not to make dumb mistakes
i don’t know about that okay i think
you’re both wrong
i think i think that people don’t think
god is stupid
i think people forget how powerful he is
and that he’s not out there to trick us
or to lay a trap for us
well powerful people can trick you i i
i’d spend it a little differently it
isn’t that that people think god isn’t
powerful i think that people view god
as an impersonal force more than
a person and so they they think of i
mean dallas willard used this analogy he
a vision of god as just being like the
scanner at the grocery store
and as long as you have the right code
as long as you have the right thing the
scanner picks up
right thing if you have the wrong scan
the wrong code you get the wrong thing
so for example
um i mean this opens up a can of worms
there are certain christians who want
america to have a certain political
foreign policy toward the nation state
and they think as long as america
supports the state of israel god will
and and they then discredit all the
god’s character and does he actually
care about the marginalized and what
about justice and what about refugees
doesn’t matter as long as america
supports israel we’re good it’s like no
it’s a much much more complicated
issue than that hey we’ve got the right
america’s got the right law toward
israel before god’s on our side that’s
what i mean by they think god is stupid
like he doesn’t have
a personal engagement and nuanced
understanding of a very complicated
and we can get by by tricking him more
or less with just
going through the right motion saying
the right prayers giving the right
amount of money
scanning the right law into our books
whatever that’s what i mean by that we
pretend that god is just this impersonal
force that we can manipulate
because he’s stupid but i think that is
thing i don’t think people consciously
think god is stupid
of course not of course not but we
behave like he is
yes right what are those tests
where you where you use a number two
pencil and you fill in the little
circles and the
antron yes yes we we think following
jesus is the equivalent
of of acing a scantron test
where i had all the right dots and all
the right circles and that’s the only
thing that god will look at is what
comes out of the scantron
machine right that’s a good analogy
thank you you can use that in your
sermon but you have to you have to
credit me at the end of the sermon
that would be a good dude i would be
happy to thank you thank you very much
hey we were going to talk about
in fact we were talking about something
else we don’t have a ton of time now so
i think we can still briefly mention it
because there wasn’t a whole lot to say
but but it is a really good article in
the new york times
uh under the headline christianity will
have power you can look it up it was
written by elizabeth
diaz who covers religion for the new
york times um and she went to sioux
to interview people who had supported
donald trump in 2016
and she pointed out something
interesting which i didn’t even know was
that one of the most famous things he
ever said during the primary he said
in sioux center iowa at dort university
and it’s the thing that everyone focused
on which is that is where he said and
this is a very conservative dutch
reformed community with a
dutch reformed school and this is where
he said he could stand in the middle of
fifth avenue and shoot somebody and he
any voters and every journalist in the
focused on that like what did he just
it’s even hard to figure out exactly
what that means was he saying his
followers just aren’t very moral i mean
his followers are so passionate the
and loyal he could kill somebody and
they would still follow him
wait then i i would argue he was a
hundred percent correct
well that’s a whole different story but
miss diaz focuses in on is is that
else he said in that speech may have
been more important than that
and uh so she quoted at length and and
he said to these
conservative christians and in the
northwest corner of iowa very near the
bible conference that we go to every
i will tell you christianity is under
tremendous siege whether we want to talk
or we don’t want to talk about it he
said christians make up the overwhelming
majority of the country and then he
slowly then he slowed slightly to stress
and yet we don’t exert the power that we
it’s interesting that he said we because
i don’t know that he ever stood up
before this point and said i am totally
a follower of jesus
uh but now he’s part of the we if he
were elected president he promised that
and then he said christianity will have
if i’m there you’re going to have plenty
you don’t need anybody else you’re going
to have somebody representing you
very very well remember that and
that that’s what she focuses in on this
is his statement if you elect me
will have power and that’s what you know
we’ve been talking with with david
french about what’s the difference
between religious power and religious
that’s kind of what we’ve been hinting
at a long time it’s it’s interesting
um what what mrs diaz misty is i don’t
know what her first name is don’t
she travels around sioux center iowa and
orange city which is
right next door and interviews people
about so how do you think he’s done and
are you still going to vote for him this
year and you know what’s your response
to all the the hoop law
and the overwhelming response is he’s
done what he said he would do
he’s done what he said he would do you
know we have more we have more power now
we’re not losing as much
so it’s a really interesting article
um just to hear people it’s not
one-sided it doesn’t have an obvious you
liberal bias they’re not trying to make
these people look stupid they’re just
asking him the questions
you know how do you feel he’s done and
you know what what’s your sense of the
and it’s fascinating so i just i just
wanted to take a couple minutes
you know for skye and christian to say
okay how did you what’s your reaction
when you read that what did it make you
think i know christian mentioned that it
made you generally sad
uh but let’s just get a little bit of
response to what we saw from
such a detailed look at how
you know middle american christians are
well like i said when we started this i
felt like it rang super true
am i signed out no here you’re there
saying i got a message saying you’ve
been signed out
oh not of this maybe something else
maybe maybe your mark of the beast app
so you know so that’s good yeah that’s
very good anyway
so i um you know it rang very true
because it sounds like a lot of people
that i know
in my area of the country things i’ve
heard them say forever
it did make me very sad uh and i’m not
what we do about that i think that was
what was so hard and
what the article that we talked about
earlier you know we can look at this
and we can acknowledge that is probably
true but how do we
yeah skye what did you make of the how
did you respond
i i’m kind of um i felt
bad because i don’t necessarily i don’t
blame these people
i think when you’ve when you see the
the way they have been formed to see it
i can understand why you don’t believe
you have any alternative
if you believe the world is in that
desperate a place if the country’s in
that desperate place
and the only option available to you
is this very flawed
broken immoral leader who nonetheless
says he will give you
and your religious beliefs influence and
i can see why people are in a corner and
want to do that i don’t necessarily
blame them when i i have less sympathy
for the church leaders and those with
greater influence who are here in this
culture to represent jesus who have
formed in them this view of their faith
and that’s where i think the blame lies
not with the person on the street
who doesn’t believe they have any
so uh i i i it’s sad it’s very sad
because i think it says something about
the state of the american church more
than it says about the state of american
and there’s a ton of talk uh quotes from
like this um in their area
area because they have their own
christian school they send their kids to
we feel like we are in a little area
where we are still protected
you know where we’re we’re safe we we’re
afraid of losing that
um and then you know if if trump is
i feel like we are safe for four more
so there’s this theme of safety you know
being at risk and it’s not not
necessarily you know that people are
going to come and shoot you
but that our way of life is going to
that we have values and they’re going to
disappear that’s what they’ve
capitalized on i mean that’s what the
trump campaign the republicans have
capitalized on and they have going back
to the 80s and i’m sure before
whereas we’re going to show you all the
things you should be really afraid of
and you should be really really afraid
of these things
we’re going to be the ones that protect
you from happening whether they’re
or you know crime or you know
be that what it may we the republicans
are going to keep your life the way it
protected safe and happy and what really
breaks my heart is that what that
reveals in us in our heart
is that we believe that our salvation
our happiness our peace
is in installing a correct political
leader and system
right which is essentially a false
and it’s a false god actually right yeah
so and that and that i wish that some of
i wish there was more interaction across
the country among christians in
like if you were to take a bunch of
christians in northwest iowa like the
ones that were interviewed in this
and put them in a room with a bunch of
christians from manhattan
right who live in like this liberal
bastion of democratic power
yeah and they could interact with each
other and realize we share the same
we have the same hope in christ we’re in
very different environments and yet look
here are christians
thriving in a post-christian liberal
paradise absolutely you know the liberal
uh kind of nirvana and yet their faith
is strong and they’re doing great like
i wish there was a vision for we can no
matter what happens
politically we as the people of christ
yeah and we don’t have to be driven by
in our public engagement yeah the last
person they interview in the article is
is the um
latino pastor of a latino congregation
i think or in orange city or sioux
who you know has a lot of white
and is an evangelical and so shares
many of their social concerns but when
they come to politics he says
yeah they they don’t bring that up
around me and i don’t bring it up around
you know i think they know that
um the things trump says and does aren’t
great for the people in my congregation
and they don’t want me to feel awkward
and i don’t want to make them feel
you know so and that’s kind of part of
i mean it’s kind of exactly what you’re
saying is that doesn’t
here’s a group right in the community
that could say our perspective is a
let’s talk about it but instead the
our perspective is a little different
let’s not bring it up because we want to
civility you know and we don’t know
what’ll happen if we actually disagree
with each other
we haven’t been taught how to
have a difference of opinion and have a
civil conversation about it
and not let it fracture us into our
that’s what’s project yeah and our and
our leaders aren’t helping
because they’re not they’re not doing it
either you know because they’re
too afraid that i’m gonna i’m gonna lose
support of the people that are following
me it’s gonna threaten my ministry
so i’m just gonna i’m just not gonna
and and that’s why i put the blame there
rather than with
the people in the pew or in the voting
booth it’s our
christian leaders have failed to
disciple the american church
in this critical area of faith okay skye
so what do we do
how do we turn that around what what
can you paint for us of something that
to to turn that tide i mean just from
oh sorry i was gonna say what if you
a little ebook called the voting booth
i’ll suggest that name you could call it
the voting booth
and it could talk about christian
political engagement what if you did
what if i did that four years ago and
it’s already available on amazon for
anybody who wants it for like i don’t
we may need to point that out again we
yeah but alternative to that would be
take this uh latino pastor from the
like why not get a gathering of church
leaders from that community from
traditions all christian whatever and
have them come together and
and have those open conversations or
invite your congregations to meet
together and do a panel discussion about
how do we view our christian faith in
the public square and why does it lead
some of us to vote differently and how
have a bigger vision of this and just
come to a place of diverse
engagement and understanding to broaden
their vision a little bit but the more
you have and this is not just true of
conservatives it can be just as true
of liberals if if your entire
environment is an echo chamber where
you’re only engaging in one
cable news network or a handful of
websites or just the algorithm from your
social media feed that keeps shoveling
messages into your in your um inbox then
yeah you’re gonna get you’re gonna come
to this myopic vision that this is the
only way to be a faithful christian
in the public square so we have to begin
the dialogue and it’s it’s up to church
leaders to take the risk to do that
and i know this is the problem with our
ecclesiology is so many of our churches
will punish pastors
who try to do that um but at the end of
pastors are not accountable to their
people they’re accountable to the lord
and at some point we have to decide who
we fear more
all right we need to wrap this up
because we’ve gone long now since we had
a two-day news segment interrupted by
an apocalypse which generated its own
uh we have a guest guy i think we have a
guest i hope so we’ll see
i hope we have i guess this this episode
might be shorter rather than longer
if not it’s probably long enough as it
is all right guys you guys uh have a
and we will see you next time wait can i
say one quick what what what
what okay what what super exciting news
you can’t tell anybody you can keep it
but we are going to be screening at a
drive-in movie theater on october 10th
in chagrin falls ohio with the girl who
it’s our first in-person film festival
you’re the first to hear it here okay
social media for it we’ll keep you
posted you can buy tickets and join us
if you are driving distance from chagrin
falls ohio i have no idea where that is
north ohio near cleveland check it out
check it out
okay we’ll see you next week all right
bye everybody everyone
how do you like your sermons i’m
guessing you prefer something that’s
easy to listen to
easy to understand maybe a sermon with
three alliterated points and a specific
application at the end after all no one
goes to church on sunday hoping to be
confused when they leave
no we want answers and we expect our
bible teachers to give them
but that’s not how jesus preached
although he taught the truth
he rarely told it directly instead
jesus told it slant indirectly subtly
and often wrapped in a story that was
actually designed to obscure the truth
for many of his listeners
that meant his audience had to work to
it took effort and concentration that’s
totally different from the comfortable
setting we try to create today in our
churches with our
cushioned theater seats and built-in cup
that’s why we’re doing a series right
now in with god daily about jesus
each day i’m writing to help you
understand the critical truths that he
and were hidden in these stories and how
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[00:00:00] Hey everyone, its Skye. I am not here with Phil or Christian. In fact, I’m not even here at all because this week I am away traveling and speaking. I’ll be in Hawaii at the YWAM base in Kona to teach a class? And then I’m going to Palm [00:00:15] Springs, California to teach a church Retreat and thankfully I have my lovely wife with me for the whole week. So we’re taking this sort of as a vacation as well. So on this week’s episode. We have something a little different for you. We’ve got a sermon that I preached earlier this year at Mission [00:00:30] Hills Church in San Marcos, California, and I thought this message might be a good fit for the holy post audience because it deals with a number of themes that come up repeatedly on the podcast this sermon is all about how should Christians be thinking about the way we relate to the culture and even [00:00:45] though Phil and I don’t talk about this explicitly on many episodes. We do actually have an agenda behind the holy post apart from the ridiculous banter and some of the more interesting interviews are real agenda is to help you get a ravishing vision of your life with God and
Figure [00:01:00] out how to live in a culture that is moving beyond Christian faith into a pluralistic society without resorting to fear or anger this sermon tackles a lot of those same themes. So I hope you enjoy it. I hope you find it helpful and we’ll be back next week with a regular episode [00:01:15] of the Holy post. What’s the news that you like the most? Who’s your favorite podcast host if it’s breakfast get your toast it sky and fill in the Holy post sky [00:01:30] and Phil and the holy post and sometimes Christian. My name is Skye. I’m delighted to be with you and grateful for the opportunity to share with you. I’ve been looking forward to this. We have a lot of ground to cover this morning. We [00:01:45] are going to look at the Old Testament and the New Testament. We are going to look at a lot of history. We’re going to talk about Mexican prison riots and Hollywood socialites. We’re going to talk about marriage and bad tattoos. We’re going to look at Medieval.
And [00:02:00] monkey trials all kinds of interesting stuff. So buckle up.
I want to begin with fashion.
And a fashion battle that I witnessed when I was a college student. So about 25 years ago. I was a college student at [00:02:15] a large State University in the Midwest and my freshman year a couple weeks into the end of the semester fall was coming. It was getting cooler outside. There was a group on campus called the glba. So for the gay lesbian bisexual Alliance and [00:02:30] in the fall every year they had a gay Awareness Week where they’d bring different speakers on the campus and have different events to kind of raise awareness for their cause and they started putting posters up around campus announcing jean day.
Jean de the poster said was [00:02:45] Thursday and it meant any students who supported gay rights were to wear jeans to show their support.
Now immediately everyone knew this is obviously a ploy because jeans are like a second skin for most college students and it was a way for the glba to inflate the perception [00:03:00] of their support and no one paid attention. There were dozens of groups on campus at all had their cause that always did these kinds of things no one paid attention until there was a conservative student group on campus that put up their own signs, which said if you do not support gay rights wear a shirt on Thursday. [00:03:15] So you have the silliness of the glb ace tactic was met and surpassed by the stupidity of the conservative groups play. So Thursday comes most students didn’t carry and they just go on with their lives. However, they were going [00:03:30] to dress that they didn’t pay attention to it. But some students took this very seriously. I was walking to class that morning and in the middle of Campus was the glba students all wearing blue jeans and no shirts including the women.
[00:03:45] And then there were the conservative students who were all wearing khaki pants and in some cases multiple shirts right to uphold, you know, conservative Traditional Values and find no one paid attention to get everyone on their lives and there’s day but in the middle of the [00:04:00] day around noon in front of the Student Center, these two groups got a new a clash and it was nasty. I mean the shouting the screaming people were trying to hold them apart from each other. It was the shirts versus the Skins. It was the khakis [00:04:15] versus the denims and as I’m watching remember, I’ve certainly been on campus for a few weeks. I’m a freshman. I’m like what on Earth is going on and I had the voice of my high school history teacher kind of echoing in my head because on graduation day. He told me Sky you’re going to do just [00:04:30] fine in college if you remember one thing college is not the real world.
And sadly in the 25 years since the real world has come to look an awful lot more like my college experience than I would have liked.
And we’re not screaming at each other [00:04:45] in the middle of a quad in front of the Student Center anymore and said were screaming at each other on cable news.
Or on radio programs or on Twitter social media or screaming at each other at school board meetings or in front of City Hall arguing about whether or not you can put a nativity scene [00:05:00] in there. Whatever.
Is this really how it’s supposed to be?
Is this supposed to be my tribe against your tribe or my group against your group? And if you’re not with me, you’re against me and all these different groups displaying their loyalties fighting [00:05:15] with one another about who’s going to dominate the Public Square who’s going to dominate Washington who’s going to dominate our policies and regulations and who’s going to get their way and who’s going to lose? Is that really what were called to
And not just as Americans, [00:05:30] but is that what we’re called to as Christians?
That’s what I want to talk about this morning. How are we as followers of Jesus supposed to engage our culture particularly as our culture becomes increasingly secular pluralistic and post-christian.
[00:05:45] Are the options before us either run away and Retreat from the culture or to fight and try to dominate and control the culture or is there another option?
To get into history a little bit throughout the 20th [00:06:00] century. There were primarily two ways that Christians viewed cultural engagement and a dramatic shift that happened in the middle and to describe that shift in these different postures are models of cultural engagement. I want to draw from to very [00:06:15] pivotal stories in the Old Testament. And the first is the story of The Exodus you remember Sunday school or you’ve seen Charlton Heston in the Ten Commandments every year and you know, the basic story of The Exodus the background is God’s people are slaves in [00:06:30] Egypt and they’re being oppressed and persecuted by pharaoh and his regime and God hears their cries and he sends Moses and he rescues them out of Egypt Remember The Parting of the Red Sea and all that stuff.
That’s The Exodus the exit of God’s people out of slavery in Egypt [00:06:45] and as they’re on their way to the promised land God gives them his laws and his instructions but a lot of these laws and instructions were designed to preserve the the special quality of God’s people as they are surrounded by all these Pagan cultures including Egypt, [00:07:00] he gives them instructions like you’re not to worship the same God that they worship you’re not to make idols and worship them you aren’t to eat foods that are different than what the Nations around you eat. You know, they all have these Pagan Kings you’re not going to be like that you’re going to have [00:07:15] an ethical system that values people who are poor or who are immigrants or who are slaves among you because you know what it’s like to be mistreated. So he had all these rules and regulations that were meant to keep the Israelites separate and distinct from the cultures [00:07:30] around them. That’s that’s the Exodus idea and it’s an idea that dominated much of 20th century Christian cultural engagement are really more properly labeled disengagement.
Let me give you a little background in the early 20th century. There [00:07:45] were all kinds of new ideas that were infiltrating our culture many of them coming from Europe.
Darwin scientific ideas new ideas about the Bible and about scripture and are [00:08:00] Miracles really possible and can you really trust the authority and historicity of the scriptures all these ideas are kind of flooding into North America and it caused what historians refer to as the modernist fundamentalist controversy if you want to research it on your own look it up on Google or whatever but [00:08:15] here’s the basics one side of the church said hey, all these new ideas that are coming in and Science and Technology and on and on we need to adapt to those things and realize that our faith needs to adapt and we need to abandon old ideas and really absorb these new things. They were called the modernists [00:08:30] the fundamentalist on the other side said no way we’re sticking to the fundamentals of the faith and we’re not giving an inch and this caused all kinds of riffs and turmoil in the culture and in the church and historians look at one particular event in 1925 is kind of a turning point. You [00:08:45] may remember this from high school history class the Scopes Monkey Trial remember that
This was a trial where a high school teacher intent in Tennessee was put on trial for teaching evolution and it became kind of this proxy battle for everything else [00:09:00] that was going on in the culture. Well coming out of that trial in 1925. A lot of Christians came to the conclusion that there’s no saving the culture is basically going to hell in a handbasket. It’s all downhill from here. So what we ought to do is completely disengage [00:09:15] withdraw from the culture.
And around the 1920s and proceeding a lot of Christians withdrew from politics from government from the academy from arts and entertainment from all kinds of sectors of [00:09:30] the of the Public Square. They withdrew into these safe enclaves, where were they their families their churches their institutions could be isolated and protected from the influence the Big Bad Evil influence of the culture around them. This is The Exodus approach be separate [00:09:45] be distinct protect yourself from the influence of the world around you it was also in this time period that a lot of American Christianity started to develop its own parallel subculture where we started our own colleges and universities. We started our own publishing [00:10:00] house as we created our own Radio Networks, and then eventually television networks, and now movies and there became this whole parallel Christian subculture that looked a lot like the regular culture, but it slapped a Jesus sticker on it.
That’s what happened in this time frame.
[00:10:15] But I want you to recognize is that this Exodus approach of separation is largely predicated on a fearful view of the world.
That it’s a dangerous and threatening place. And the best thing we can do is guard ourselves [00:10:30] circle the wagons and isolate.
In the Middle Ages, there was a theologian named Thomas Aquinas amazing. Brilliant theologian.
And he talked about how fear in the Christian is a Contracting posture [00:10:45] of the Soul. It kind of draws Us in word and it makes it so that were primarily concerned about ourselves rather than others and he compared a fearful person or fearful Community to a medieval city under siege. If again, you know your history when [00:11:00] an invading Army would come against the city all the peasants in the surrounding Countryside would gather all the resources they could as quickly as they could and then they’d run into the city walls and they barricade themselves behind the Gates hoping that the resources they had amassed inside [00:11:15] the city would Outlast the resources of the invading Army that would Siege the city of all around the wall the longest Siege of medieval history lasted 26 years.
But that’s an image of kind of The Exodus approach like we are going to hunker down [00:11:30] and protect ourselves our schools our families our churches our way of life. We’re going to guard our resources at it kind of makes us into a rather self-centered narcissistic view of things. It’s all about surviving.
And in much [00:11:45] of the 20th century the attitude of a lot of Christians was don’t worry about politics. Don’t worry about culture. Don’t worry about law to worry about the Arts because the end is coming and Jesus is going to rescue us out of here. So this just hunker down and play it safe.
But then about 50 [00:12:00] years into this Exodus approach a big shift happened.
In the 1970s a whole bunch of Christians realize this ain’t working and maybe we need to take a different approach and they came rushing back in from the cultural [00:12:15] Hinterlands to re-engage the Public Square and politics and government and everything else in 1976 Newsweek magazine actually had a cover declaring it the year of the evangelicals because so many of them had seemed to come out of the [00:12:30] woodwork and we’re re-engaging now question is why?
What happened that led so many Christians to decide this Exodus approach wasn’t the right way to go.
Well dancer that let’s go back into the Bible and the Old Testament. There’s [00:12:45] another incredibly important story in the Old Testament that explains the new way that Christians came to engage culture many centuries after The Exodus God’s people had been settled in the Promised Land.
And can’t get into all the details but [00:13:00] in 538 BC the Babylonian Army invaded the holy land they destroyed Jerusalem destroyed the temple and as the Babylonians were prone to do in their march across the known World when they conquered a people they would enslave those people and bring them [00:13:15] back as captives to Babylon. It was a form of assimilation. This is where you get the story about Daniel in the Lion’s Den and all that kind of stuff was happening during this Exile time. So there is a season for which the Israelites were captives in Babylon. They couldn’t go [00:13:30] home and a lot of the Israelites believed that this captivity would not last very long and so they weren’t settling in they weren’t kind of planting Vineyards or doing anything. They were just like, okay. When do we get to go back to our home when we get back to Joe to Jerusalem and the Lord spoke [00:13:45] to his people this is the passage that we heard read earlier. He spoke to them through the Prophet Jeremiah.
and essentially what the Lord said to them is you guys are going to be here for a while so settle in
Marry off your kids have grandkids [00:14:00] plant some Vineyards build some houses. You are going to be in Babylon a lot longer than you think now eventually you’re going to get out of there, but for now settle in and really important is what he says in Jeremiah 29:7.
[00:14:15] He says seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile for in its welfare. You will find your welfare. Sorry, that’s Jeremiah 29:7. Is that what I said? Yeah, 27 in other words.
[00:14:31] Make lemonade on a lemon out of lemons you’re in this horrible circumstance. You didn’t want to be here. But here’s where you are make the best of it.
And as you seek the well-being of the city that you find yourself in it’s going to go well for you. This [00:14:46] Exile approach is the posture that a lot of Christians have taken since about the 1970s. The attitude has been like oh my goodness, you know, we withdrew from the culture back in the 1920s 50 years has gone by Jesus hasn’t come back yet [00:15:01] things are getting worse, maybe instead of withdrawing. We need to engage. We need to participate we need to we need to have a role in this Babylon in which we are captives to make sure things go well for us.
This [00:15:16] has become a really popular model. In fact this verse Jeremiah 29:7. I encounter it so many places. I half expect to watch a football game and have some guy holding up Jeremiah 29:7 at some point. It’s just become this mantra for a lot of Christians. When we need to engage in the culture. We need to engage in politics. [00:15:31] We need to engage in government all these other things. So what was it about the 1970s that led to this shift?
Well, there’s kind of a popular narrative and then there’s the unpopular narrative the popular narrative is that the sexual revolution of the 1960s [00:15:46] which became codified into our laws in the early 1970s? Particularly row v Wade in 1973 kind of drove a lot of Christians to re-engage in the Public Square.
There’s some truth to that but it’s not the whole truth when you really study this issue [00:16:01] and get into the weeds of it you realize it wasn’t primarily the sexual Revolution movement of the 60s that led to Christians re-engaging. It was actually the civil rights movement of the 1960s and I don’t want to get in all the details here, but suffice it to say there [00:16:16] were a lot of Christian communities in the south in particular who were not happy about desegregation.
And they were motivated to re-engage government in the Public Square because they didn’t like what the government was doing with integration. So [00:16:31] they came roaring back into the Public Square for various reasons and decided we can no longer isolate ourselves. We can no longer be safe in our own communities. We can’t just be white in our communities anymore. So we need to fight back and we need to mobilize and [00:16:46] so they came back into the Public Square and they used this Exile vision of the world is turned into Babylon America is off of its judeo Christian Moorings and if we don’t fight to get it back it’s not going to go well for us and everything is going to [00:17:01] fall apart for our families and our kids and our schools and our institutions and and out of this came this language and you’ve probably encountered it in various forms this language about how Christians need to change the world.
I remember seeing that as a Seminary Student all [00:17:16] the time many years ago. We’re here to change the World to Change the World to Change the World. It’s become a mantra. There’s a fascinating book called to change the world that was written by James Davis and Hunter some years ago where he’s describing. Where did this idea this rhetoric of world-changing come [00:17:31] from for contemporary Christians? And here’s what he concludes the rhetoric of world-changing originates from a profound angst that the world is changing for the worse and that we must act urgently there’s a sense [00:17:46] of panic that things are falling apart and if we don’t respond now, we’re going to lose the things we cherish the most what animates this talk is a desperation to hold on to something.
When the world no longer makes sense.
[00:18:02] So for about the last 40 50 years the posture has been Christian engaged the Public Square engage the world because if you don’t things are going to go really really bad for you your community your family your [00:18:17] school would ever change the world to protect yourself.
All right. Now here’s the important part.
Despite this dramatic shift from disengagement in The Exodus mile model to re-engagement through the Exile model. [00:18:32] There’s a massive shift in strategy. What I want you to recognize is that underlying that strategy there was actually no significant shift in the way Christian see the world.
Both Exodus and Exile were [00:18:47] predicated on viewing the world as a fundamentally dangerous and threatening place.
Now assuming you took high school biology, you’re taught that when an organism feels threatened it will respond in one of two ways, right? [00:19:02] What are they?
Fight or flight that’s what we see here Christians feeling threatened by the world. And in the 1920s. The attitude was flight Let’s Escape. Let’s run away from it and isolate ourselves. And then [00:19:17] in the 1970s and onward the attitude became fight, let’s re-engage and dominate so that we can make sure it goes well for us but under both of those Visions is fear.
It’s an idea that we are under attack and we are afraid this goes [00:19:32] back to what Aquinas said when we are afraid. It contracts our souls. It makes us turn inward. We’re not concerned with loving others and serving others and blessing others were concerned about. How do I protect myself?
[00:19:47] How do I protect my tribe my family my community?
It’s all predicated on fear.
So let me take you back to Jeremiah 29:7 because there’s a detail in that verse [00:20:02] that you may not have noticed before that. I want you to see.
Jeremiah the Lord through Jeremiah says for the Israelites seek the welfare of the city where I’ve sent you into exile.
For in its welfare, you will find your welfare [00:20:17] now notice.
What motivates the Israelites the seek the welfare of Babylon?
Are they really interested in loving their Babylonian Neighbors?
Are they really wanting to see this Pagan Empire with all kinds of pagan [00:20:32] deities really flourish and Thrive because they just love Babylon so much.
Know the motivation in this text is very clear. It’s self-interest.
Seek the welfare of Babylon [00:20:47] so that it goes well for you.
This is an attitude that I think a lot of Christians have today. They’re not genuinely concerned about their neighbors who aren’t Believers or caring about a land that they don’t plan on sticking [00:21:02] around in very long because God’s going to rescue them out of it or take them home. It’s it’s out of self-interest rooted in fear and a desire for control. Now, this was an appropriate command back in the time of the Exile with Jeremiah because [00:21:17] the Lord needed to preserve His People Israel long enough in order to fulfill their purpose was the coming of the Messiah so they had a reason why they needed to preserve the way they were but if this is as far as we get in our understanding of cultural engagement, I would argue. This is a sub Christian view.
[00:21:33] Rooted in self interest in fear, and we’re called the far more than that.
So, why does this persist why do we keep coming back to this attitude?
Well, we have to remember that fear is one of the most Basic [00:21:48] Instincts of our species. It’s the easiest most efficient way to motivate people. It’s what most advertisers do it’s what most politicians do they make us afraid.
But we have not been given a spirit of fear. The Apostle John tells [00:22:03] us but a spirit of power and freedom.
And fear is not a quality that leads us into the kingdom of God.
There are all kinds of voices in the culture today who claim to be Christian some of them cultural [00:22:19] leaders some of them Christian institutional leaders some of them political leaders and they use fear to try to motivate us fear of that group or this issue or that policy and heaven forbid that this law passes or this person gets [00:22:34] on the court or this one gets elected and they use fear all the time to try to motivate us because it’s so easy and efficient, but let me tell you something if someone is leading you with fear, they are not leading you by the spirit of Christ.
In fact, I don’t think it’s [00:22:49] an overstatement to say they are leading you by the spirit of antichrist.
Where the fires of fear and anger are stoked the warm inviting glow of Christian love will not long endure.
[00:23:04] As Henry now and said fear only engenders fear it never gives birth to love.
And it’s so much in our church these days.
Is driven by fear and you wonder why [00:23:19] the culture react so negatively to so many Christians.
Because they see us a self-interested.
People who go on the attack against the perceived enemy shirts versus skins denim [00:23:35] versus khakis.
Were called to something more.
So if it’s not Exodus and it’s not Exile, what is the third alternative?
We got to get to the New Testament because there we [00:23:50] find a completely different vision of cultural engagement.
In the New Testament, we see a motivation far greater than just making lemonade out of lemons better than just tolerating a terrible circumstance better than [00:24:05] self-interest or just get by as best. You can we see a far deeper more profound understanding of the world, you know, when you read the gospels what you find there is interesting despite our bias toward total pragmatism is 21st century [00:24:20] consumeristic Americans. Jesus doesn’t actually offer a lot of practical advice in the gospels. You don’t see a lot about you know, here’s three steps to a better marriage kind of stuff in the gospels. It’s not there. Why
Because a lot of what Jesus did both [00:24:35] his miracles and his Parables were not primarily designed to be instructive. They were designed to be inspiration. They were designed to Open the Eyes of his disciples to see the world differently because Jesus understood if you [00:24:50] see the world the way he sees it you are going to act within the world the way he would act.
So he wanted them to see a world in which it made perfect sense that the first would be last. The last would be first a world in which the marginalized and [00:25:05] the forgotten neglected were actually entering the kingdom of God ahead of the religious leaders in the Pharisees. He wanted them to see a world in which it wasn’t the rich who were considered blessed by God and righteous but it was this poor Widow who puts just a penny into the offering he [00:25:20] wanted them to see a world in which even a child the most powerless and neglected in the society was considered great in the kingdom of God.
He wanted them to see a world where even a messiah who surrenders himself to the most cruel [00:25:35] and unjust system. The world has ever seen and is killed by that system rejected by everyone. We’re even that Messiah is raised up and given the name above all names.
He was turning everything upside down.
[00:25:50] Because he knew if his followers saw that world they would act differently within it.
Let me tell you a story about a place not actually too far from here.
Just South of the Border near Tijuana is [00:26:05] La Mesa prison, one of the most notorious prisons in Mexico home to 6,000 inmates. Mostly hardened criminals murderers drug lords the worst of the worst.
But in that prison for over 30 years there was one unexpected [00:26:20] occupant they called her, Mother Antonia.
She passed away just a few years ago in her 90s, but she spent over 30 years in this prison among these prisoners. She loved and cared [00:26:35] for them. She met with them and counseled them and prayed for them. She tried to get as many prisoners as she could to reconcile with their victims and seek forgiveness. She advocated for the prisoners making sure that they had food and water and medicines. She was a go-between between the prisoners [00:26:50] and the guards.
She even cared for the guards and their families she would go visit the families of the prisoners out in the community to make sure that they were cared for but the remarkable thing about this little nun wasn’t all those incredible things. She did. It’s that each [00:27:05] night.
When the prison was being shut down she didn’t leave.
She had a cell for herself. She wasn’t a prisoner. She voluntarily stayed there every night and slept with these hardened criminals. They [00:27:20] came to call her mama. She called them her sons.
Here’s the crazy part.
Mother Antonia didn’t enter La Mesa prison until 1977 before that. Her name was Mary Brenner [00:27:35] Clark and she was a blonde socialite in Hollywood.
She had been married twice divorced twice the mother of seven children when her children were grown. She felt a calling from God to enter a religious [00:27:50] order and to care for the poor and the marginalized but being Roman Catholic and divorced twice there weren’t a whole lot of religious orders for her to enter. So she packed up her station wagon drove South of the Border and entered Lamesa prison where she spent over 30 years serving those inmates.
[00:28:06] Ten years ago in September of 2008 despite the remarkable transformation of that prison. It was still a dangerous place and a riot broke out. The prisoners were upset that they weren’t getting their basic necessities met and somehow they got hand the cache of weapons and went [00:28:21] on a rampage and took hostages. This all happened when Mother Antonia was not in the prison and when she came back that night she found that all the electricity has been cut to the prison and the entire place was surrounded by soldiers.
She went to one of the soldiers and [00:28:36] beg to be let into the prison and they were like, there’s no way we’re letting an 85 year old woman into this prison with armed criminals and hostages.
Explain the risks you would be taking and she said I don’t care. I am not afraid.
[00:28:53] And she was a persistent little woman and they finally agreed to let her enter this prison.
The middle of the night she entered is completely dark. All the electricity has been cut.
And she finally found a prisoner. She knew named Blackie.
[00:29:08] She fell at his feet and began to beg him to end the riot and drop the weapons. This is what she said to him.
She said it’s not right that you’re locked up here hungry and thirsty we can take care of those things. But this isn’t [00:29:23] the way to do it. I will help you make it better. But first you have to give me the guns I beg you to put down your weapons.
Blackie responded to her mother as soon as we heard your voice we drop [00:29:38] the guns out the window.
Mother Antonia Mary Brenner Clark
Represents a different vision of engaging the world not Exodus [00:29:53] get me as far away from danger and discomfort as I can be not Exile. I find myself a prisoner here. I might as well just make the best of it. No, she represents the way of Jesus.
Which is the way of embrace?
[00:30:09] in Philippians chapter 2 the Apostle Paul tells us
had an attitude that we are all to have and he describes it this way though. He was in the form of God. He did not count equality [00:30:24] with God a thing to be grasped but emptied himself.
By taking on the form of a servant being born in the likeness of a man and being found in human form. He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death even [00:30:39] death on a cross.
Jesus came and embraced this world willingly.
This posture of embrace is different than Exodus and exile for three [00:30:54] reasons briefly cover. These the first is that Embrace is a choice.
This is important think back to Exodus in Exile Exodus and Exile were ways of responding to circumstances that you don’t [00:31:09] choose or like the Israelites did not choose to be slaves in Egypt.
They didn’t want to be there and they got out of there. And God said stay away. Don’t don’t go back to that kind of thing. Right? They didn’t want to be Exiles in Babylon, but [00:31:25] they decided based on God’s word. We’re going to make the best of a lousy situation until we get to go home that tends to be the attitude. A lot of Christians have about the world today man. This place stinks. This culture is terrible. Look at all the problems were having look at all the post-christian stuff [00:31:40] that’s going on. Look at the way. We’re all slipping away from Christian Morality In the Public Square and it always used to be so much better. We always talk about the culture so negatively like if we had a choice we would we wouldn’t be here.
[00:31:55] But Jesus chose to come and enter this world isn’t like he showed up in Bethlehem as a kid. I was like, oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m here. What a mess. Right? Look father. Why did you drop me in this mud hole. Why am I you know, he [00:32:10] didn’t have that attitude.
Is that it stood was I want to be here I choose to identify with you. I embrace the realities The Temptations of the struggles and the Pains of this world.
[00:32:25] Because I love you so much.
Think about the messages that we send to our culture.
We meaning the church in general what the culture tends to hear from us as Christians of one is one of two things either man things used to be so much better.
[00:32:41] Or they hear someday things are going to be better again when Christ returns and everything is made right, but they don’t hear us talk to well about the present do they could you imagine if you’re a parent? Could you imagine if the messages that your children here are only like you used [00:32:56] to be so cute.
You used to be so much more adorable and loving or someday. I hope you really make something of yourself. Like if those are the only messages children ever hear. How do you think that’s going to affect them?
[00:33:12] Nothing about the message that the culture here is from the church and used to be so much better someday if we get control you’ll be okay again.
But they’re not hearing in affirming thing about today that [00:33:27] we want to be here that we choose to be or now. You might be thinking. Hey, wait a minute Jesus chose to empty himself. It says and take on the form of a servant he chose to enter the world and do what he did. I didn’t choose to be born. Now. I didn’t choose [00:33:42] this place unless you’re an immigrant. Maybe you chose this place. But how does this idea that to embrace the culture as a choice? How do we reconcile that with the reality that we don’t actually choose? Well one of the most important lessons I’ve [00:33:57] had to learn over the last I don’t know how many years
Is that real freedom and real Joy comes when we learn to choose what we did not choose
Let me explain that.
A couple years ago. I [00:34:12] was mentoring a college student who’s actually a graduate student wonderful intelligent guy named David and he called me up one day frantically and he’s like I have to get together with you. I need to talk to you immediately. Can you drop whatever you’re doing and meet me at the coffee shop. So make sure you sounded panicked. So [00:34:27] I show up at the coffee shop. We get our drinks you sit down at the table and he’s just beside himself and he’s like, I didn’t know who else to talk to. Thank you for coming here. He’s like I have something I have to ask you and I promise no matter what you say. I won’t tell anyone.
[00:34:42] It’s like, okay. What is this about?
Turns out that he had been dating a young woman for a while. It was getting serious. They were talking about getting married and he was about to pop the question and get engaged and he was getting cold feet.
So he leans [00:34:57] in like this cone of silence right over our table and he says Sky. I need to know honestly, do you ever regret the decision to marry your wife?
And I [00:35:12] was like, this is too much fun. I couldn’t just let this go easily. So I leaned into David I said
I didn’t make the decision to marry Amanda and he looked at me like what are you talking about? This is crazy. And he knew that I’m half Indian. My father’s [00:35:27] from India. My mother’s mostly Swedish and Norwegian. I’m a huge mess. But he he he’s like was this an arranged marriage what you didn’t tell me that I didn’t realize I said no. No. No, it was an arranged marriage. I said, I didn’t choose to marry Amanda.
I said [00:35:42] the sky from 19 years ago chose to marry Amanda. I now live with the consequences of his decision every day.
And to be completely honest most days. I’m [00:35:57] thrilled to be living with those consequences, but there are days when I’m not it’s hard.
But now by God’s grace. I find the strength to choose that which [00:36:12] I did not choose.
He had this big ugly tattoo on his arm.
He was looking at me dumbfounded the point. I said David you didn’t choose that tattoo. Your younger probably inebriated self chose that tattoo and [00:36:27] you now live with the consequences of it every day.
You didn’t choose this culture. You didn’t choose this time that place to be born.
But nonetheless God is inviting you to choose what you didn’t choose. Do [00:36:42] you want to be here?
Do you want to have the neighbors that you have? Do you want to be facing the challenges that our world today is facing. Do you want to be a man or woman of God following Jesus in this time [00:36:57] in this place, or do you do it kicking and screaming?
I think if we do it Kicking and Screaming not only does that communicate to our neighbors that we don’t really love them and care for them, but it’s actually an affront to God’s sovereignty who chose to put you in [00:37:12] this time and this place.
Do you choose this as the place where God has called you?
Because if you do choose it, you will find Freedom and you will find joy and you will find the grace [00:37:27] to act as he’s calling you to act. So that’s number one. Number two, the way that Embrace is different than just Exile or Exodus.
Exile in Exodus were or postures of cultural engagement that were [00:37:42] primarily self-centered. It was about protecting ourselves protecting ourselves from the influence of these Pagan Nations around us or protecting ourselves so that we can get back to Jerusalem. Once the Captivity is over protecting ourselves from the deterioration of the society [00:37:57] by withdrawing into our institutions and churches and schools or whatever protecting ourselves by seeking to dominate Washington DC and politics and policy right? It’s all about protecting ourselves, but Jesus is different.
He makes it clear that the reason [00:38:12] he showed up the reason why he came and entered into our Human Experience to dwell Among Us.
Was so that he might seek and save the Lost?
He came and declared that he didn’t come to be [00:38:27] served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many Embraces different because it’s motivation is for others.
Not for ourselves and one of the things that has tainted the witness [00:38:42] of the church in our age today is the perception is that we are all about ourselves. We’re about defending our rights our institutions our values our liberties.
But we’re not about to fight [00:38:57] for the other team. We’re not about to give ourselves away for them and their goodness. We’re not about to actually love our enemies. I mean who would have thought of something so stupid is that
but that’s exactly what we’re called to do.
If our Christian [00:39:12] cultural engagement is only about preserving Christian ideas and values and institutions than something is wrong.
Martin Luther King jr. Of course famous Civil Rights leader, but he first and [00:39:27] foremost considered himself a minister of the gospel and the gospel influence the way he went about his calling.
Obviously he fought hard.
For equal rights for African-Americans for desegregation and for the end of various [00:39:42] forms of institutional racism, but when you read his sermons and you read his writings you discover, there’s another element of his motivation. That doesn’t get as much play doesn’t get broadcast nearly enough. He frequently talked about what he called a double victory.
[00:39:59] And in his mind the double victory was this.
Not only would African-Americans be set free from the the dehumanizing effects of racism and segregation but he believed that segregation and racism dehumanized the white people [00:40:14] who practiced it
And he said my goal is not just to free African-Americans. I want to free my white brothers and sisters from the evil of racism in the way. It shrinks their souls and he says that is the double [00:40:29] Victory. It’s not just about rights for my group are my people. It’s I want to see those who consider themselves my enemies liberated and set free as well.
That is a mark of true Christian engagement. It’s [00:40:44] what Jesus did as he hung on the cross and looks at the very people who are executing him and says father forgive them.
because they need forgiveness to
Are we out there? Just defending [00:40:59] our rights?
Or are we willing to sacrifice ourselves even for those who hate us?
Are we only interested in defending religious liberty for Christians?
Or will we defend religious liberty for Muslims?
[00:41:15] for Jews for atheists for Hindus
Are we only interested in our right to speak freely?
Or will we defend the right of our neighbor whom we disagree with to speak freely.
[00:41:31] The vision of a church that’s only interested in itself is a contradiction to the witness of Jesus Christ.
And it’s rooted in fear rather than love finally last one Embraces [00:41:46] different than Exodus or Exile because Exodus in Exile were primarily concerned with survival.
Let’s just get through this so that we can get to the other side. Let’s just get through this Exile in Babylon because eventually we’ll get to go home to Jerusalem, right? It’s just perseverance [00:42:02] to get through a lousy circumstance.
Unfortunately lot of Christians also have this attitude man. I’m just passing through I’m white-knuckling it until I can get out of here either in a casket or in the Rapture right one way or another I’m out of this place. That is not a [00:42:17] new testament vision.
don’t have time to get into why I wrote a whole book on it, but
When Jesus showed up was his attitude. Okay. I just maybe 30 33 years. I can get out of this mess, right?
[00:42:33] Everywhere Jesus went he didn’t just help people survive.
He brought flourishing.
He brought things to their ultimate amazing abundant goodness. He didn’t just say hey, I’m here to make sure you guys survive long enough to [00:42:48] get to the kingdom. He said no, I’ve come that you may have life and have it abundantly.
When people didn’t have a meal when they didn’t have enough food because they were sitting around all day listening to Jesus. What did he do that? He get him like some Lunchables and get them by for the day bread [00:43:04] and fish multiplied so their stomachs were distended like this and they had twelve basketfuls of leftovers, right and they weren’t even Americans they were gorging themselves on all this food when he shows up at a wedding and runs out of wind as he go. All right. Well, [00:43:19] let’s bring out the cheap stuff in a box. No, no. No the best wine they’d ever tasted is what he provided Jesus brings flourishing. Remember that story of John and Peter when they’re going to the temple and encountered that lame beggar.
And the Beggars asking for some money and beaters [00:43:34] like money, you know, we follow Jesus we got no money.
But what I do have I’m going to give to you. He says stand up and walk did that beggar stand up and walk? No, it says he leaped he started dancing jumping.
[00:43:51] Where the power of Jesus comes in people don’t just survive they flourish.
And our calling is not just a get by in this world are help a couple people make it as best. They can we are to see the fullness of the potential of lives expanding [00:44:07] and the reason for this is Jesus and his church and his followers are called to take pieces of the coming Kingdom and make them a reality in the present.
It’s not just about surviving until we can get off this rock. It’s [00:44:22] about bringing heaven to this rock.
To get a foretaste of the Kingdom that is yet to come.
So here’s the question.
What makes you afraid?
What makes you turn inward [00:44:37] to shrink to circle the wagons to barricade the walls to think only about your cells or your Institution?
And what kind of Grace do you need to move from Exodus or exile to a posture of embrace?
[00:44:52] I actually love this world. The way God has called us to to embrace this world to choose this world to seek its flourishing not for your sake but for your neighbors knowing that in Christ, you are perfectly safe. Not a Roman [00:45:07] Cross or an Assassin’s bullet can ever separate you from the love of God in Christ. And so you have been set free we have been set free.
To love the world as he has loved us.
Let me pray.
[00:45:24] our heavenly father
I pray for this church for my sister’s and brother’s here in this place that you have put them that they would be equipped.
[00:45:39] to love sacrificially
to bring flourishing and goodness
every home and school and office and hospital and every place they go in this community.
[00:45:55] I pray Lord that you would set them free from Fear.
They may walk in Freedom and joy and truly be that City on a Hill that light in the Darkness.
I pray that there would be a new [00:46:10] birth of Grace in this place.
So that many come to see you as you are.
Recognize the love you have for them through us.
[00:46:25] We ask all of this in the name of Jesus Christ Our Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit as one God now and forever. Amen. The holy post podcast is a production of Phil vischer Enterprises. That’s Phil’s [00:46:40] company and Sky pilot media that Sky’s company production assistants by Sean McDuffie edited by Jason rug help us create more thoughtful Christian Media by supporting us at patreon.com forward slash. Holy post. Also be sure to leave a [00:46:55] review on iTunes. So more people can discover thoughtful Christian commentary plus ukulele and occasional but news
Confused about the current standoff in Washington over the president’s border wall? Matthew Soerens, U.S. Director of Church Mobilization for World Relief and National Coordinator for the Evangelical Immigration Table, is back to help us make sense of it all. He explains how the failure of immigration bills since 2013 got us to this place, and why neither Democrats nor Republicans are pursuing a common sense compromise. He also offers his thoughts on why so many Christians fail to see immigration as a biblical issue. Also this week: Phil pokes Mary Poppins, Trump is evangelicals’ Goliath, and the international competition to build the tallest Jesus statue.
16000 border patrol agents, 400,000 apprehensions. 2 apprehensions/month/agent (1 hr 9 minutes)
Many people who voted for Trump didn’t distinguish between legal and illegal immigration. They want lower immigration.
The threatening statistics don’t hold up under scrutiny.
Jon Ward is back! He’s the senior political correspondent for Yahoo News and the author of the new book Camelot’s End about the 1980 primary fight between Jimmy Carter and Ted Kennedy. Ward unpacks the current dynamics within the Republican and Democratic parties, and what to expect as we move toward the 2020 election. Also this week: Christians freak out over “McJesus” in Israel, social media freaks out over Catholic teens with MAGA hats in Washington, and is the 400-year-old white Western Christian bubble bursting?
Wed, 19 December 2018
Do your church leaders want to use you or equip you? Pastor and cultural architect, Dave Gibbons, joins Skye for a conversation about the future of the church. Having experienced everything from fundamentalism, to the seeker megachurch, and urban multiethnic ministry, Gibbons has an interesting take on where things are heading. Hint—its about launching people not institutions. Phil and Skye also discuss Andrew Sullivan’s new article in which he argues that America’s new religion of “progress” is an empty shell that has made our politics worse. Plus, scientists are implanting mice with human mini-brains. What could possibly go wrong? And Phil tries to convince Skye not to learn golf.
How do you shape a community. Its clearly not just the didactic teaching.
Generation Z is looking for something authentic that engages with them. They can get good shows other places.
Is there a fallout from this model? How am I going to get people in the nursery?
There is going to be suspicion of white, non-diverse churches.
There needs to be people who don’t have charisma.
Younger people are looking for individualized, authentic, customized communities. They are suspicious of am industrialized model.
They need to be a hub, resource center. Discipleship.
Your motivation is to love them. You don’t have to worry about saving them.
People sense that their pastor is more interested in using them than in loving them.
Church planting -> People planting
Just have meaningful conversations, love them, trust the spirit