Culture mistakes agreement for love and the church better take note

Posted on by Cor in FAITH | 10 Comments
An example of culture's thinking

An example of culture’s thinking

Love is different from agreement. 

It’s true that agreement can be loving. And love can be quite agreeable.

But they’re not the same thing.

Our culture misses this point. Too often culture believes for love to be love it must be explicitly agreeable.

But there will be times where love, to be truly love, appears quite disagreeable.

Tweet: @pastorcor: There will be times where love, to be truly love, appears quite disagreeable. full post: http://ctt.ec/eKoEy+

For example, love may confront. Or withhold. Or abstain. Or say “No” when everyone else is saying “Of course!”

Unfortunately, such a posture is increasingly perceived as unloving.

Why? Because we disagreed with them. To agree is to love. To disagree is to not love.

Note – it doesn’t matter how kind the delivery of this disagreement was given. To them, disagreement didn’t meet their expectation. They wanted only agreement.

This reality is becoming much more common in a world which takes its lead from culture. At one time, the church served as chaplain to the culture. It does so no longer (See #7 and #8).

The Church is often asked whether they agree or disagree with X-issue.

I think there are three possible responses.

tXbv9XhThe first is to state your disagreement. Whether due to God, his Word, theology, conviction, or whatever, you believe love demands you state your disagreement. Even at the risk of offense, you must not remain silent because you love.

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 2.29.49 PMThe second is to withhold your disagreement. Again, whether due to God, his Word, theology, conviction, or whatever, you believe love demands you don’t state your disagreement. Even at the risk of appearing to agree (though you don’t), you must remain silent because you love.

The third (and this is the one I often choose) is to steer the conversation away from this one point in order to focus on underlying values. And it’s not because there are not times to straight up agree or disagree. There are.

But it’s important for us to be reminded that each person is asking whether we agree or disagree for a reason. And it’s likely to add value to their own agenda.

The value to news outlets or bloggers is a sound bite.

The value to non Christians is to stereotype.

The value to people pleasers is reinforcement.

The value to disagreeable types is ammunition.

Each of these then share our opinion with greater disdain or zeal because it fits or doesn’t fit with their agenda.

The Church is often asked whether they agree of disagree with X-issue. I’m not sure we need to immediately offer up our agreement or disagreement.

I’m much more interested in conversing about foundational values than solitary issues.

I want to know why love must agree and why disagreement is hate.

I want to know the rationale for why they agree or disagree.

I want to know the guiding principles around which they orient their lives.

Once I know their foundational values, it’s much easier to have a meaningful conversation with them about the issue. 

And, who knows, in the midst of such civility, maybe they will not want to know only about whether I agree or disagree. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll be interested in knowing why.

This principle also shows you why I blog the way I do.

Share your thoughts and comments. Do you believe our culture mistakes agreement for love?

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How are we in the church combating loneliness?

Posted on by Cor in Sex and Relationships | 6 Comments

Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 10.46.39 AMPeople are lonely. A Barna report found 20% of people self identify as lonely. In another study, 11% felt lonely often.

Researchers indicate there is no objective criterion for measuring loneliness. Rather it is a subjective feeling regarding either (1) a lack in number of desirable relationships or (2) a lack in intimacy within those relationships. This means, for example, that three friendships of considerable depth could lead one person to feel lonely and another not. It’s subjective.

It’s also hard to discern if others are struggling because loneliness if felt within. Yet one study above says 37% of us senses a close friend or family member is very lonely.

There are consequences to loneliness. Feeling this way consistently can negatively affect physical and mental health. Examples listed were obesity, elevated blood pressure, disrupted sleep, and even premature death.

FlyFishingIsolation is not all bad news. I read in one place where it was advocated that we all become introverts. This author believed a certain amount of introspection was necessary for creativity, self-awareness, and rejuvenation.

I can agree with this author that the problem is not just “being alone.” So the solution is not just getting people around others.

My question to you is how do we, in the church, combat loneliness in a healthy manner?

Here are a few approaches being suggested beyond church walls:

  • I came across this article titled, “Fighting loneliness with cuddle parties.” It’s a place intended for individuals who crave non-sexual human connection to “meet new people, to enjoy amazing conversations, to touch, to be touched, to have fun…all in a setting structured to be a safe place for exploration and enjoyment.” I don’t agree at all with this solution. But I think it reveals people’s desire for connection through touch.
  • Others would advocate a more cognitive approach. Such people believe stopping destructive self talk is the primary step to combating loneliness.
  • Pet lovers may already be yelling at the screen, “Buy a dog!” I think this could be a part of the solution but it’s unlikely the entire solution.

My question to you is how do we, in the church, combat loneliness in a healthy manner? How do we combat it in ourselves? How do we help others combat it in their own lives?

John Milton said, “Loneliness was the first thing God’s eye named ‘not good.’”

Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 10.47.47 AMMother Theresa once said, “The biggest disease today is not leprosy or cancer or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for, deserted by everybody. The greatest evil is the lack of love and charity, the terrible indifference toward one’s neighbor.”

So how can we, the church, make a difference in this area? How can we combat loneliness together?

I’m looking for any concrete, practical ways to help the lonely in our midst. What do you think?

5 ways I can support your church consumerism

Posted on by Cor in FAITH | 3 Comments

church_shopping_listI support church consumerism.

And I’m not concerned about over consumption. Actually, I believe the church isn’t being consumed enough.

Surprised?

The concern of consumerism is when goods are consistently purchased in excess of basic needs and to the detriment of others.

Yet even these are not the greatest concern of the church.

The issue is consumption without contribution. It is taking without giving.

That is NOT how we are to relate to the body.

We receive life from the body. We need it. And we benefit from it.

And the church should receive benefit from us. We contribute to it. We bless it with our gifts and service.

Here are 5 ways I can support YOUR church consumerism.

#1 – Check it out before you buy… 

I do not buy anything of great value sight unseen. It’s okay to check churches out.

…Provided you buy at some point. 

There is prudence. And there is procrastination. The former is permissible. The other is problematic.

#2 – Comparison shop…

I have my list of “must haves” in church. You have yours. You do not need to apologize for this.

…Provided you understand there is NO perfect church.

No store has everything. Amazon, for example, doesn’t sell liquor, animals, or cars. Likewise, no church can provide everything.

#3 – Discuss your options with others…

Friends are like bridal parties. They often know she’s the one before you do. So talk with others.

…Provided you don’t slander and tear down these churches.

Never forget: this is your family. Even if you choose away from a local church, they don’t cease to be your brothers and sisters in Christ.

#4 – Take time to fully consider your (and you family’s) needs…

No person in need of a haircut heads to the hardware store. What do you need in order to grow in maturity? Your needs do matter.

…Provided you pause to consider the needs of the church.

You would never board an ocean cruiser and tell the captain what the destination is. But people do it with churches all the time.

#5 – Consume as much as you can…

You are the church. And you are in the church. The church is for the people outside of it and inside of it. Like a sponge, soak up as much blessing from it as you can. Sadly, many people are struggling in isolation. They do so despite the church being available. Go to the church. Use the church.

…Provided you contribute (time, gifts, inspiration, etc.) for the sake of others.

Don’t get bloated on the blessing. Squeeze yourself out for others in honor of God.

What do you think? 

Add your comment to the conversation!

You are not behind

Posted on by Cor in FAITH | 2 Comments

HurryStop believing you’re behind. It’s not true.

Well, it’s not completely true.

You may actually be behind. For example, a 6-month work project which is half done and due tomorrow would mean you’re behind.

But you’re not behind in the way they say you are.

Getting you to feel behind (which, honestly, is not that hard to do) opens you up to looking for a solution. Their solution. If they can get you to feel behind, they can get you to buy their product.

Prior to feeling hurried, you were not looking for this product. Am I right?

But now that you feel hurried you wonder if Amazon Prime’s 2-day delivery is soon enough. You think, “Should I overnight for the upcharge? I’m already behind! Can I afford to wait any longer?”

It’s not true.

But if I feel behind in preparing my kids for life, I’ll buy your book so I can catch up and catch them up.

If I feel behind in the times, I’ll update my flip phone, walkman, and Ford Pinto.

If I feel behind in achieving my life’s goals, I’ll buy anything. Everything. Because I don’t want my life to be a failure.

And I better hurry or I’ll miss out. This offer is for a limited time. It expires tonight!

It’s not true.

There are calls in the Bible to “hurry” but they are precious few.

Hurry to escape judgment (e.g. Gen. 19:15 – Sodom and Gomorrah, Num. 16:46) or danger (1 Sam. 23:26, Acts 22:18).

Hurry to bring good news of Jesus’ resurrection (Matt. 28:7).

There are appeals for God to hurry with his answer (Psalm 102:2, 143:7).

More often, “hurry” is contrasted with “peace” and “calm” and “stillness.” Perhaps the most memorable is Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”

But if we are still, will it all get done? Won’t we fall further and further behind? What if the most important things in life don’t get done?

Psalm 46 ends with this promise, “’I (i.e. God) will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ The Lord is with us.” What could be more important in life than that? We have God and the promise he will be exalted.

Are you in a rush? Why? Do you feel behind? Stop believing you’re behind. It’s not true.

Instead, be still and know he is God. 

Question: How do you respond when feeling “behind” in life? Share your thoughts!

Adrian Peterson and the new reality

Posted on by Cor in FAITH | 15 Comments

Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings

Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings

This is not a post about football.

It’s not about corporal punishment (perhaps another time).

It’s not about child abuse.

It is about what the AP story means for you and me as followers of Jesus Christ.

It’s about the new reality. And this reality has implications for the church.

Once upon a time, the spread of communication had limits.

Once upon a time, wisdom was solicited only from the experts.

Once upon a time, judgment was formed behind closed doors with a few people in the know.

Once upon a time, there was a greater trust in the decision makers who were making such decisions away from public eye.

Those days are over. Behold the new reality. 

The new reality allows communication to happen in an instant.

It allows the less-experienced to share their opinions alongside the expert.

It allows judgment to come from all directions.

It allows outsiders to challenge the decisions made by insiders.

Some would want to debate this new reality. Opponents could argue the advantages and disadvantages of this new reality. Some would call for a retreat into old ways of communicating. Others would argue that the new reality has not pushed far enough.

This is not where my fight lies. I acknowledge the new reality exists. And I recognize it will have both gains and losses just like the old system.

My questions is: what implications does this reality have for the church?

Strip the name Adrian Peterson from the title of this post and replace it with Mark Driscoll. Now reread this post with his situation in mind.

There are absolutely implications for the church. What are they? And how are these to the church’s potential benefit? Or potential detriment?

Here’s a couple to get us started:

POTENTIAL BENEFITS

  1. The Church will be given a tremendous opportunity for witness. Dallas Willard said, “Societies the world around are currently in desperate straits trying to produce people who are merely capable of coping with their life on earth in a nondestructive manner.” He may have written those words in 2002 but they are just as true today. Could the Church become a lamp on a stand to give light to such people and societies? Do not Jesus’s teachings hold great potential in today’s cultural milieu?
  2. The Church will demand holistic leadership. Holistic means that the comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole. The Church has suffered when leaders, who’ve been shown to be lacking in an area, are given an exception due to an extreme giftedness in another area. It should not be this way. Why? Because all, of who that leader is, is present when exercising in the area of giftedness.

POTENTIAL DETRIMENTS

  1. The Church judges the local church, who was at ground zero. There is no substitute for factual, first-hand accounts. No amount of speculation trumps reality. I’ve sat through meetings of the variety written herein. It is tough. Even those who were present will disagree about intention, tone, posture, words, responses, and judgments. Do we really think that reading a couple blog posts is sufficient to see clearly? I don’t.
  2. The Church depersonalizes the fallen. Though we may want to villainize the one caught in a sin, the Bible calls us to restore that person gently (Gal. 6:1). This is NOT the posture of our culture. It may not even be the posture of most churches. We may think of how much easier life would be if this “distraction” just went away. This is a person for whom Christ died.