If He Is…

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“Most Christian books are about two things: helping the readers succeed and making them feel good. They’re both great, and I’m not putting that down, but somehow it’s become all about us and never about what God wants to do in the world.” –Dave Ping, coauthor (w. Steve Sjogren) in Outflow.

“Our postmodern world is pulling each individual into a vacuum of self-centeredness, whispering, ‘It’s all about you.’ It’s all about your own pleasure, peace, prosperity, and comfort. It’s all about what you think. It’s all about your own self-actualization, your individual pursuit. It reminds me of the first lie that mankind heard in the garden: ‘You will be like God!’ It is all about us, isn’t it?” –Del Tacket, TruthProject.com

“Even though much of the [Restore America] conference’s rhetoric is steeped in words like ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty,’ their agenda is entirely composed of taking freedoms away from you and I. In a lengthy interview, David Crowe told me about an ‘Evangelical Contract with America’ he’s working on. Here’s what’s on that list: criminalizing abortion, ending no-fault divorce, preemptively banning same-sex marriage and civil unions, forcing judges to abide by a narrow interpretation of the Constitution, doing away with ‘the plague of porn that is infesting the nation,’ and keeping illegal immigrants out of America’s borders. There’s not exactly a lot of ‘freedom’ on the list,” Scott Moore, The Portland Mercury News

“Perhaps the greatest challenge for evangelical Christians in the 21st century is the culture war. As a nation our Christian values are under attack as never before,” Larry Lewis, National Facilitator of the Mission America Coalition

“On each of the other 10 topics, ministers feel significantly less informed about the culture surrounding them than do churchgoers. Twenty percent of ministers feel very informed about the Internet compared to 43 percent of laity; 19 percent of ministers feel very informed about what’s on television today compared to 31 percent of laity; 18 percent are very informed about books compared to 27 percent of laity; and 16 percent are very informed about movies today compared to 24 percent of laity.” 2006 Survey by LifeWay Christian Resources

There is an epidemic of self-focused thinking among Christians. It’s even encouraged by some churches. And it isn’t just Me Church.

Will you do something? Will you learn the full truth? And will you write it?

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9 thoughts on “If He Is…”

  1. I heard on NPR that most young adults suffer greatly from a hefty dose of narcissism. Self-absorbtion is a huge problem these days. Perhaps I’m in a unique position, having lived overseas and being able to see American Christianity from afar. Even in the church it’s all about me. MY relationship with Jesus (without communal language). MY happiness. MY best life now.
    Ick.
    What about sacrifice? The beauty of self denial? The importance of service?
    I pray my novels show (not tell) these seeming lost aspects of authentic Christianity.

  2. Provocative stuff, Mick.
    All of these quotes are disturbing, but the third one particularly bothers me–and not for the same reasons it would bother someone who doesn’t give a flip about Jesus. I can’t presume to know exactly what Scott Moore meant by “their agenda is entirely composed of taking freedoms away from you and I [sic],” but I doubt he had the cross in view. (Of course, it doesn’t sound like Restore America has the cross in view, either.)
    More rules and laws are not the answer, but neither is across-the-board tolerance. There’s only one way to freedom, and that’s willful slavery to Christ. It’s not the freedom to do as we (or the ubiquitous “I”) please. It’s the freedom to obey the One who created us for His glory. Do the majority of “Christians” even believe that any more?

  3. Maybe one way we can write “that truth” is be honest about our own selfishness. I know mine all too well and yet, despite how ugly it is, I don’t want to pretend it’s something I can ignore when I sit down to write.
    The good news, of course, is that God is chipping away at that “me-ness” and desires to replace it with something that looks a lot more like Him. This, I think, is what “willful slavery to Christ” looks like as a process. We hand Jesus the hammer and chisel and say “have at it,” knowing full well we’ll still try to block some of his piercing blows.
    And for the record, Mary, your novels do show (not tell) those “seeming lost aspects of ancient Christianity.”

  4. Jeanne said: There’s only one way to freedom, and that’s willful slavery to Christ. It’s not the freedom to do as we (or the ubiquitous “I”) please. It’s the freedom to obey the One who created us for His glory. Do the majority of “Christians” even believe that any more?
    Mary said: What about sacrifice? The beauty of self denial? The importance of service? I pray my novels show (not tell) these seeming lost aspects of authentic Christianity.
    Mick said: Will you do something? Will you learn the full truth? And will you write it?
    Suzan here:
    Amen to Mary and Jeanne’s comments.
    My prayer for us is that God gives us a thirst for the full truth, including the freedom to obey, sacrifice and self-denial, and that we apply it to our writing.

  5. Hey, I kinda like that contract. I certainly agree with most of it.
    I think there’s always gonna be difficulty with the balance between what we need and want and what we need to surrender. I’m certainly no expert at it. What some folks call surrendering to the cross could well be surrendering to their own vision of the cross, and not the cross at all. Just as there are narcissists, there are people who only feel good when they are martyrs and get their kicks out of self-abnegation.
    Writing is a me-focused vocation: You have to take a lot of alone time to do it, think about what’s important TO YOU, because you’re hardly gonna write what’s NOT important to you, and you gotta ask your family and friends to respect your alone writing time. And then editors expect you to self-promote and self-market, and agents might want a great headshot, so off you go to get the hair styled just so and the make-up done just so, and maybe a new outfit.
    So, are we all gonna give up writing and go be Mother Teresas in the third world? I doubt it.
    But I don’t think we need to. And maybe God wants some of us to write stuff that makes readers feel good. And maybe some folks God put in the world to write love stories that make folks believe in true love, and write fantasies that make folks believe in wonderworkers.
    I’m not about to naysay that.
    Yes, I think I rambled all over the place. Blood sugar must be dipping.
    I’m gonna go eat something and try to do it non-narcissitically. :D
    Mir

  6. The Evangelical Contract consists of all good stuff… but it still gives me a sick feeling in my gut. We need laws to keep order and (somewhat) keep the peace. But to legislate everything to death is to forget that even God Himself gives us freedom and asks us to CHOOSE. People will not repent, behave morally, or accept Christ just because somebody legislates it. It only works if we individually choose it. Scary stuff.

  7. More and more, I’m convinced we’re living in the Laodicean Church Age of Revelation 3.
    We think we’re so cool, so tolerant, so non-judgmental, so PURPOSEFUL and so RICH because of these things, when in reality, we’re “poor, wretched, miserable, blind and nekkid.”(sp!)
    And the Lord Jesus stands at the door of the CHURCH and knocks to be let in.
    (Then there’s the nuclear reactor disaster that made people sick polluted water and made venison radioactive and we all know the name, Chernobyl. How many know that in Ukrainian, the name is Wormwood? See Revelation 8. Moving right along?… )
    So, we need to let Jesus back into the church as Lord and Savior, the only way to the Father, His words, not just a way-show-er, and acknowledge and accept His calling of us to be salt and light, filled with the Holy Spirit, and at the very least, a wholesome refuge from a world less and less accepting of us–witness the massacre of Christians in Turkey–and of Him.

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