Friends, what a year it has been! There has been much to grieve over, and yet, there has also been much to be thankful for. There have been many circumstances to cause fear, anxiety, and hopelessness, and yet, our hope remains.
God is still moving, both here and around the world. And here, there are whispers of revival in the American church that seem to be growing louder and louder as more people begin to stand. There are areas that have long been in slumber that are being awoken and challenged to pursue the purity of God’s truth.
As the 2020 (or 20/20) jokes go, this year has caused many of us to see life so much differently. Much has been shaken, and yet, our hope remains. There are so many things running through my mind lately, but they’ve still been too jumbled to write about. In a nutshell, here are some of the thoughts I’m wrestling with as we walk into 2021:
1. The dangers of Christian feminism
*Cue jaw drops from anyone who knew me well in college.*
God uses women to do some pretty amazing things in leadership roles – I am not arguing this point. It has become increasingly alarming to me, though, to see how in women’s attempt to do and be all that men traditionally were, men are fading into timidity instead of leading the way they were intended to. We need strong, steady, Christian male leadership.
My thinking on this has changed a lot the past year, but what surprised me most was that what I was rejecting previously was actually a distorted view of what it really means to support and encourage men in leadership roles – What I was hearing when other views were described wasn’t biblical truth. The more I’ve learned and healed, the more I’ve come to respect men and their roles.
My thoughts are still too jumbled to explain this clearly, but what I’m trying to get at is: Both men and women are being hurt by the idea that women can and should do everything men do, but there is also a big disconnect between the truth vs. the reasons women reject the “submission” idea that is usually very untactfully pushed. We have to talk about both sides openly in order to get on the same page and strengthen our families.
2. Bite-sized information intake
Oddly enough, this didn’t become more apparent to me until the 2020 election. The habit with which people are more likely to intake information from a bite-sized article, social media post, or surface-level story instead of actually seeking out what is true vs. not carries into Christianity as well.
Don’t get me wrong, articles, social media posts, and brief videos all have their place. Holding the idea that they’re all bad just because some are untruthful contributes to the issue just as much as the other extreme. But let’s think about this quick – Are people more likely to run to their favorite Christian “influencer” for an encouraging word or the Word of God? Collectively, is it more common to scroll through social feeds and take a post as a “sign” or is studying the Bible to understand God’s truth in contrast to society’s spin more common?
Maybe a better question: Is Jeremiah 29:11 a favorite because people have said, “God has good plans for you and your breakthrough is right around the corner!” or is it because it was shared to give hope to the Israelites at the beginning of their 70 years of Babylonian captivity, despite the false prophets of the time proclaiming that God said they would be free within 2 years? This isn’t to minimize the encouragement because it is encouraging, but we need to understand the context in order to understand the richness of that hope.
3. The pursuit of truth
Wrapping up, we’ve known there are churches preaching watered down versions of the gospel, but what wasn’t clear to me until recently is that we’ve done little about it. Or more accurately, it wasn’t clear to me that we could do something about it. We can speak out against the dangers of shallow teaching. I’m not talking about stirring up division, but at what point do we stop tiptoeing around issues and instead uphold the integrity of truth?
One thing I love about Acts 15 is that Paul and Barnabas stood up for the truth even though it caused great debate for a time. They didn’t say:
“Oh, well, I guess I can see why they interpreted a more legalistic view of God’s salvation.”
No, instead they saw the burden that human beings were placing on people who had been saved by God’s grace, and they chose to care more about the people who needed to be saved than the Christians who wanted to be right.
And you know what? The apostles and brethren came to an agreement, then went the extra step of sending respected men of the church to go and bring truth to those who had been burdened. The early church leaders cared more about seeking truth than avoiding offending people, and people were set free as a result. It is Jesus and His truth that sets people free – nothing else!
The gospel doesn’t need to be watered down or sugarcoated. The Word of God can speak for itself. People aren’t being freed even in some churches across the country because what they are being told only mimics in part the fullness of God’s truth. Partial freedom is still bondage.
I hope to write more on these in the future, but I hope in the meantime these are areas we can be thinking about… and talking about. We need to be less afraid of making each other angry and more concerned with working together to seek out truth.
The great thing about God’s truth is that we don’t need to worry about it being untrustworthy – He is perfect and He has already gone to great lengths to give us freedom. If we work together to seek His truth instead of seeking to confirm our biases, we can trust that whatever the result is will be just.
My prayer going into the new year is that Christians, particularly the American church as that is the context I’m speaking from, will rise to the challenge of seeking real truth and living it out. 2020 has made it abundantly clear much of this country is in bondage beyond what was apparent even a year ago. Now that we’ve seen it, we can’t go back to the way things used to be.
Here’s to our journey!
“Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” – Joshua 24:14-15 (NASB)
Music for the journey:
Casting Crowns does a good job of sharing meaningful lessons in their lyrics. Related to this post: