When we see something in the body of Christ that needs to be addressed, it’s our job to speak up. Even when we know people are going to disagree. But it doesn’t do the body or the Lord we serve any good just to shake our heads and go about our routine. On that note…let’s talk.
There’s a LOT going on in the world today that should appall and infuriate us. There’s more evil in the world than we can get to. It’s our job to exhort and sharpen each other for the kingdom work we before us. There’s plenty of work to do among ourselves, and there’s plenty of work to do in the world. On both fronts, there’s so much to do, and we need to get after it.
What’s the Problem?
The problem is when we decide that minor things are major things. When we exert loads of effort being outraged by Starbucks cups and vague speculations about what might be in a movie, we don’t look discerning and principled. We look hysterical.
I hate to say it, but these things too often serve to make us feel good about ourselves (Hey, look at me taking a stand for Jesus!) or to make us divvy up our fellow brothers and sisters as being on the right side or the wrong side. It’s judge-y.
If I tried, I couldn’t love this more. This was posted to Facebook on March 7 by my friend Sara Johnson of HeySaltyLady.com:
Preparing myself for the literally stupid-hundred articles we are about to see proving that the church enjoys dividing goats from sheep based on who will or will not see a movie.
This is a 10 second conversation people.
“You going?”…..”Nah. You?”…..”Maybe?”
But, once a year the body loses its entire focus to fully devote ourselves to arguing the merit of a film, as though it’s eternal doctrine.
You don’t need consensus of the world to make a decision for yourself or family on whether to buy Disney or see The Shack. Research it, pray about it, make a decision, return to the field.
It’s not that these conversations don’t have value, it’s that we would rather clobber than converse.
Big Whoop. What’s the Harm?
We have limited time on earth individually, and–hear me on this–we have limited time on earth collectively as the bride of Christ. There will be an end, and we don’t know when that will be. We have between this very moment and that very moment to be witnesses and make disciples (see below). Do we really think coffee cups are the heart of the gospel? Do we really think Jesus offered Himself up for a horrific death in hopes that we’d wave our pitchforks and torches to take down a movie before we’ve even seen it?
Jesus is speaking in both of these:
“[B]ut you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
As a side note, let me clarify that I’m not saying we should either be all in or all out of cultural conversations. There are definitely times when we need to speak up, especially in areas of subtlety when something’s not right. But we need to exercise discernment in how much we throw ourselves into those conversations.
Let’s Bring It Inside the Walls of the Church
The Set Up
When you choose a church where you’ll grow, serve, tithe, fellowship, and worship, do so very carefully. Your eye should be on doctrine and mission. Do your level best to choose a church that’s biblical and meets your family’s needs now and in the future. Once you decide, lean all the way in and stay there unless something wackadoo happens.
Don’t waste your time, staff’s time, and volunteers’ time on “issues” like music style and volume, service times, seating, or what the youth are wearing. If you go to Sunday School to get your favorite donuts, sit only with your best friend in the class, and have a lesson on what you want, you need to spend some time fasting and praying.
If you can only worship to music that fits neatly within your personal, narrow parameters, you’re not there to worship God. (Warning: You might be worshiping yourself. Yikes.) When you’re at home, in your car, mowing the lawn, making a spotify list, you can make that music about you. Listen to whatever you want, however you want. But when you step in the doors of the church, that music is about offering worship to God. Be a giver.
Worship is for God, not for you.
If someone (like oh, I don’t know, a visitor) sits in “your” seat, and this sends you over the edge, preventing you from being able to sit through service, this may be another example of making yourself your own idol.
But Churches Aren’t Perfect
If you don’t like what’s going on in a certain area of ministry, first steps include: becoming more informed, praying, talking directly to the minister over that area, and–here’s a crazy idea–volunteering to serve to make it better. The last step might be changing churches, but there’s not a step that involves complaining on social media or to people who can’t do anything about it. Be honest. Isn’t that really just you trying to make yourself look spiritual? And gossip has no place in the church. Do you know who likes gossip in the church? I’ll give you a hint–It’s not Jesus.
I Double Dog Dare You
What if we took all that misdirected energy and put it into things that really matter to God? What if we took our walk with the Lord seriously so we knew His heart and had a “Here am I, send me” (Isaiah 6:8) attitude?
(Isaiah responding to God’s call) Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8
Can you imagine if Christians mobilized and worked together to minister to frightened women with unplanned pregnancies? Or came alongside young men to mentor them to be hard workers who were committed to supporting any children they fathered? Or got laser-focused on sex trafficking and working to bring it down? Or doubled down to bring up this generation to be mighty warriors for God?
What Does This Have to Do with Parenting and Discipling?
If this post seems out of place on this blog, it’s not. Here’s why. Our kids are watching everything we do. If you’ve ever had a toddler or preschooler, you know what I mean. They watch, and they copy. This doesn’t stop as they get older. Our kids see what matters to us, and what gets us to speak up and take action.
If you’re looking around like I am, wondering nervously what the next ten, twenty, thirty years are going to look like, think about what a massive impact a generation of revival would have. Then realize that you have, in your home today, players in that revival.
Can God reach into the lives of unchurched or undiscipled kids and light a fire in them? Of course He can. But what if we had a trained army at the ready for Him? Our toddlers stacking blocks have jobs to do in the future, and God has told us how to get them ready. Our teenagers doing homework and meeting friends for coffee have jobs to do in the nearer future, and God has given us instruction and encouragement to get them ready. There’s no time for silly distractions.
The best part is that, besides instruction and encouragement, God gives us His partnership. God gives us more than we can handle all the time. It’s kind of the point. Looking at your kids, realizing that your job is raising them to be godly adults, is daunting. And that’s the right perspective. It is daunting. Our job is to do the best we can year by year, and make space for God to do His part–in our kids, and in us. At the end of the day, we pray that God will fill all the gaps we left that day, and He will.
Bringing Proverbs 22:6 into It
There are no promises that if we do A, B, and C, our kids will be exactly what we hoped for. Proverbs is a book of principles, not promises. So “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6) is not a 100% money-back guarantee. But the principle is that when you raise a child according to God’s will and the child’s bent, chances are good that you are directing your child toward godliness. So, for now, steward those kiddos and focus on “train up a child in the way he should go.” Worry about the rest later.
I’d argue that part of this is teaching what’s worth our limited time and energy. Let’s not get caught up in pseudo-issues that are distractions, even if they’re convenient or comfortable distractions. It’s impossible to really see things as God sees them, but let’s do our best. Look at the world (from your Jerusalem to your ends of the earth–Acts 1:8), and pray for God to show you where the greatest need for service or the gospel is, and do it. Let your kids see you seeking God’s heart this way and doing God’s will this way. Have them come alongside you as they are able.
Isn’t that better than teaching them that at the center of our faith…is a coffee cup?
Featured image of Wonder Woman and train gratefully used with permission of Des Taylor of Despop.