Faith, Culture & The Church
"In Him [Christ] you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit."
(Ephesians 2:22, NIV)
(Ephesians 2:22, NIV)
Does your heart ever just gaze out at the world and then become stirred with lists of questions? Do you ever find your soul engaging in a battle to win understanding, wisdom and hope?
From time to time something hits me and it sends me down these inquisitive paths that reveal my desires to understand the brokenness around me, rise up and speak Truth into the hurts, and see people’s hearts, souls, and minds set free in Christ.
In recent weeks I found myself pacing down these question paths:
These questions led me to write this prayer for all of us living in this generation:
“Please, show me what you are stirring up in me right now. Show me if there is any waywardness in my heart. And if there is, please, come and set me free so I can live in freedom and truth. Then let your light shine without the threat of pride or a spirit of offensiveness getting in to snuff it out.
Let me love and pursue correction and a contrite heart that I may not stumble in the dark, mistake my emotions for something they are not or harbor bitterness over the thing your blood came to set me free from. And if taking offense to a word of Truth is a result of believing a lie from the enemy, give me the courage and power to tear it down, take it captive and make obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Let me desire you more than I desire to be right by cultural standards. Let me desire you and your wholeness of heart more than I desire comfort. Let me not confuse conviction for offensiveness. Let me believe your Truth illuminates my way and that walking in it may feel uncomfortable at times but that I need not blame others for my discomfort. That instead, I would turn to you, the source of ALL wisdom--the one who knows my innermost being, who created my calling by the way you constructed my life, relationships, gifts, and personality--asking you to reveal to me the necessary role conviction plays in my sanctification and freedom.
Help me to desire your freedom and comfort of soul and mind over the false freedom and comfort our culture offers. Give me wisdom, discernment, conviction and faith to know the difference. ”
This is my prayer for my own heart. I wonder, would you consider making it your prayer too?
I don’t want to just be another voice out in the noise of the world, clamoring and vying for attention. I want to live by the Spirit. I want to live for the eternal reality that I believe in. I want to know that when I get to the finish line on the other side of the gates, that I will fully and completely recognize my savior because I have known him intimately on this side. I won’t be able to do that if I spend most of my life looking side-to-side, up and down the street, or at my own selfish desires.
Because I can only see Him if I am looking to Him to provide my freedom, define my identity, and be my source of Truth and power. I won’t see what the author of salvation, freedom and my story has for me if I am looking around and not up for my knowledge, wisdom and understanding.
The freedom that my soul desires, the peace that my mind longs for, and the hope that my calling rides on isn’t found with secondary sources. My freedom, peace and hope derive their existence from the Primary source of all things, God. And if I have access to the primary source, why am I settling for secondary source materials?
Here is what secondary source living will get me: confused.
Do you also see a whole lot of confusion out there in our little world?
Why is this so?
Because our heads are spinning trying to keep up with what and what not to be offended by. . . What or what not to defend. . . Where to draw the line. . . Building walls and living by comparisons. . . Setting our measure by the world’s goals and not the Bible’s promises.
John tells us in the world we will have trouble, but to take heart because Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33). So, yes, life down here is going to take some strength, perseverance, and faith. But it doesn’t need to be confusing.
If you and I spent more time with our eyes in the Primary source, our lips speaking promises and blessings directly from that Primary source, and our minds thinking in patterns of power instead of fear, I believe confusion would cease. Because we would be keeping our eyes on the Truth and the Truth [He] would be setting us free (John 8:32).
And in order to be free, some chains gotta’ go. Some darkness needs to get lit up. Some habits have to submit to the power and self-control provided through Jesus Christ. So, it won’t be a cake walk, this life lived in the Primary source. But it won’t be debilitatingly confusing.
I believe that if we can set our hearts and eyes on Scripture and daily invite in the Holy Spirit’s presence in to our thoughts, words and actions, we will no longer be confusing conviction and offensiveness. And when we live without being habitually on the offense, we will be able to see clearly who we were made to be, the inheritance that is ours in Christ, and the powerful calling that is placed on each of our lives to go in to all the world loving God, loving others and making disciples of all nations.
When my mind starts wandering the paths of questions, I know I need to pay attention. It often takes me several days or weeks to walk around with them before I know what to do with them. Most of the time, I don’t get answers, but I do find clarity along the journey. It’s like the questions without answers drive me back to Jesus, drive me back to Scripture, and humble me by reminding me how little I know and understand.
These questions, they both put me in my place and raise my eyes toward heaven because they turn my soul back to remembering that the Primary source holds all the answers in His hands. And he holds me too. And when I let myself rest in the Truth of who He is and who I am in Him, then I can confidently believe that what I see in front of me each day isn’t how it was all meant to be. But one day, it will all be set back right: The world and my heart.
It will be a fight to the finish. And not one of us is getting out of here alive. None of us. So, won’t you join me in living in pursuit of knowing, believing-in and living-out the plan and the purposes of the Primary source? Will you join me in considering that perhaps the emotions that are quick to tell us we are offended might actually be trying to lead us to conviction and healing?
What if we chose to be offended less often? What if we chose conviction more often?
I believe it would be a culture-changer. Jesus came to shift culture and we are tasked to do the same.
Do you want to see change in our world?
Then sit down and ask that it start right now in your heart and in mine. Change, true change that is rooted in freedom and power, is only attainable through the power of the Holy Spirit. And He works inside heart and soul, mind and spirit--knowing exactly and precisely what each member of the body needs and is capable of for this life and the next. Look to Him, acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight (Proverbs 3:6).
To choose to be offended, or to be convicted: that is the question. Which will you choose? Your choice could make all the difference in you and to the world around you.