Watch and Learn

Social media has connected us to domestic and foreign events in ways that are unprecedented. When events unfold, we learn about them in minutes rather than hours or days. There are benefits to this. It gives us an awareness of what is happening in our world. It reminds us that even if our lives are sailing along smoothly, for many people that is not the case. But there are also drawbacks of being so connected. One of them is that we feel the need to comment on the issues that everyone else is commenting about. This is true even when we have little or no information about a situation or the issues surrounding it.

What if instead of commenting on everything, we took time to dig deeper and learn the history of the situation? Don’t buy what the media tells you through soundbites, headlines, or 140 characters. Learn how each side views it. Unearth the history behind what has happened. And if we absolutely must comment, what if we kept it as simple and genuine as possible? Don’t pretend to know everything or have all the answers.

Maranatha

Corrupt politicians who live above the law, terrorist attacks, racial tension and profiling, skepticism toward law enforcement, the loss of religious freedoms – this is the current climate in America. It’s tempting to wring our hands or decry the need to return to our “values” (values, by the way, that have gotten us no further than this). What all of this chaos should do is serve as a reminder.

It should remind us that America is no different from the rest of the world where these realities have not been masked behind a veneer of morality. It should remind us that apart from God’s grace, any one of us is capable of saying and doing horrible things. It should remind us that we must work to end racism, injustice, and violence. It should remind us that our ultimate hope is not in the world as we know it getting better. It’s found in the knowledge that one day Jesus will return. Everything wrong will be made right. This world will be re-created and sin eradicated. That is our hope as Christians. And so in the midst of chaos, we echo the words of the Apostle John: “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20)

Defining Jesus

Americans are now describing themselves as non-religious at historically high rates. Despite this trend, it is still popular for people to talk about Jesus in a positive, admirable way. Biblical illiteracy may be on the rise but people still know bits and pieces of Jesus’ life and teaching. We must help them fill in the missing pieces.

Jesus is fully grace and truth. He does not condemn the sinner or condone the sin. He is compassionate, merciful, gracious, and returning in glory to judge the nations. He is the way, the truth, and the life without whom no one comes to God. If you leave out any part of Jesus, you risk defining him incorrectly. As Christians, we must help to articulate a robust, biblical view of Jesus.

The Disease of Self

It’s entirely possible that no culture in history has been as obsessed with itself as modern American culture. We are a self-absorbed, self-exalting, selfie-loving, society. That may sound harsh but it’s hard to deny its true. As Christians we are not immune to this either. Just look at the way we view involvement in the local church or the way we treat our relationships with others. But there is an antidote to this epidemic.

It’s found in one anothering one another.* The best way to get your focus off of yourself is to put it squarely on others. When you spend your time seeking to love, serve, encourage, pray for, bear with, forgive, submit to, and comfort others, it’s a lot harder to be self-centered.

*Credit to Andy Stanley who is the first person I heard use this phrase.

Faux Outrage

We live in a world of outrage. Any occurrence, no matter how small or insignificant, can be blown up into the hot topic of the day. Throw social media and blogs into the mix and anyone can have an opinion about anything at anytime.

Sometimes the outrage is genuine. Sometimes it’s just a way to vent. Venting can make us feel better. We can tell ourselves we actually care. But if that’s where we stop, if we never do anything about what we claim bothers us, then it’s really just faux outrage.

Sharing Our Convictions

Why are we, as Christians, so afraid to share our convictions? Maybe it’s the desire to be liked. Maybe it’s our desire to not unnecessarily alienate people. Maybe we don’t want to appear judgmental. Maybe we would rather discuss certain topics face to face. Maybe we want to be perceived as humble and approachable. Some of these are worthwhile considerations. But none are legitimate reasons to keep quiet about our convictions.

Not everyone is going to like us. We will always alienate those unwilling to hear the other side. Society sees the belief in moral absolutes as judgmental. Sometimes you can’t wait to make a statement in person. Humility means we think about how to best articulate our convictions not that we refuse to share them. Reasonable people understand that not everyone views the world the same way. They are fine with those who have different convictions. They just want to know that we don’t consider ourselves inherently superior to them. That’s fair because we aren’t any better. All have sinned, all have fallen short of His glory, and all are in need of a Savior. And that’s all the more reason to boldly share our convictions.

Politically Incorrect

Politically correct speech is all but mandated by our culture. But the great irony of people who defend p.c. rhetoric is that they are some of the most hostile people out there. They want you to be ultra sensitive to the feelings of others. But say the wrong thing on accident and they will attempt to ruin you. Never mind what you are feeling.

Maybe instead of obsessing over political correctness people out to learn to use common sense in their conversations with others. Speak the truth in a loving manner, don’t assume the intent of the other person’s words, and exercise a little humility when you disagree.