Leading Through the Culture Wars
I want an excuse not to write this post… It’s summer and I want that to involve sno-cones and pools and my kids but this is burning in me. I get online and it feels like the pressure is building, like a balloon that may pop at any moment and it isn’t one complicated difficult thing, it’s so many difficult issues…
Homosexuality and the Church.
ISIS and Muslims.
Planned Parenthood Videos. What?! Please God help us all.
Certainly these are each unique issues with unique sets of difficulties. But together they can leave us feeling a little helpless.
And maybe you are a very vocal one on the internet about such things or maybe you are a quiet one… sitting back and wondering what to think or what to say?
Do we keep silent hoping it all to go away or do we give our voice to the convictions we hold dear? Most days I look at my feeds and wonder because I go online and see people I love dividing on issues I didn’t know were going to divide us and my head spins and my heart breaks because at the end of the day whether we are winning or losing (whatever that means) it feels like publicly, we are all losing.
And I wonder what hurts God most? That’s what I think everyone that loves Jesus is trying to answer.. What does Jesus most care about?
Jesus cares about truth.
Jesus cares about love.
Jesus cares about holiness.
Jesus cares about the oppressed.
But while everyone is yelling online what they think Jesus cares about- humble, real-life, meaningful conversations and relationships are fading.
I think the trajectory of Christendom in these moments has been to fight our side of a culture war, but Jesus is growing something deep and beautiful behind the scenes in this moment and it is part of why these issues aren’t simple to us.
Our hope is not to redeem culture… our hope is that people would be redeemed.We want to be wise and we feel torn over how best that could happen. Love or Truth? They seem, at the moment, to be in opposition. It feels like we have to pick one.
When I was in seminary and we would get to doctrines that seemed to oppose each other, my favorite theology professor used to say, “you must learn to embrace tension or you will become heretics.”
We must embrace tension.
But we hate tension.
When you think of a rubber band held tightly from both sides- no one wants to be that strung out rubber band… so you let go. You may hear tension and think I am speaking of compromise. But that is not what Jesus did- He showed radical love and held truth and holiness always- constantly calling us to this difficult way.
You can’t have love without truth or truth without love. They are dependent on one another. Without both- your love is built on a lie or your truth is just a law. As the Church, who loves Jesus, we must be: Unwavering and committed to the authority of God and His Word and unwavering and committed in new and beautiful ways to radically pursue, engage and love people within our churches and outside.
So you may be saying, Great- but Jennie can you give me an example of practically how this could play out?
I will give you one, but I should mention that this is not the easy way. It's easier to pick a team, see who is on your side, pick a hashtag and start throwing tweets at the other side or to sit back and do nothing.
This is a humble, quiet, brave, messy way.
It happens over tables and difficult conversations,
it happens when you pursue friendship instead of judgement,
it happens when you are honest about your own sin rather than point out someone else’s.
Recently, I was sitting backstage before speaking at a conference, when a man I recognized walked in. I knew his name and from his views online I knew him to be a gay Christian who was fully affirming in the church and when we sat down to talk,
I leaned in. I embraced the tension.
I asked questions. I listened and I learned.
I learned more about the immeasurable hurt the church has caused in the lives of the gay community.
I learned how to love better.
Never once did he ask me to change my views on scripture and homosexuality. But he increased my compassion and love for those who actually are affected daily by those views. I count him a friend and I hope he counts me one as well. He comes to mind as I write today, though I know he sees this issue differently than me, I think about him and how he would feel if he read these words.
And maybe that is the beginning of a way through this…a friend.
A real-life, eye to eye friend, who we think of when we approach these difficult issues with our words.
Just as I won’t lay down what I read so clearly as God’s design for marriage between a man and a woman in His Word, I also cannot lay down what I read so clearly as Jesus’ plan to build His church and save souls…
Christ said just before His death, By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. Jn. 12:35
It is a time for us to engage- I suggest we do that in new bold ways but let's be sure we know people on the other side to help us be sensitive and humble as we go. I think we will naturally love better online if we are loving well off line in these spaces.
And friends- we need to know our Bibles more than we ever have- not depend on others' to feed us the truth. We need to be in the Word ourselves.
Let's take the energy we are wasting on fear over these issues and move it to a passion for people’s souls- we could see God move in our midst. Friends, “we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” 2 Cor. 5:20 We are the current ambassadors for our God - we must figure this out.
And may no great issue of our day distract us from the greatest issue of souls and eternity.
We are here for a minute and if we lay down love or truth, we lose the two greatest weapons we have to fight for the souls of men. We hold to truth and we love with relentless pursuit and we repent for our own sins and we pray for God’s Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is heaven.
There is work to do- let’s get on with it.
God, make us humble and bold.
Tell me what you think.