I have responded this way many times when what I expressed didn’t come out right, or there were additional consequences to my words or actions which I had never considered.
We’ve all done it.
Have you ever read a “spoken text” from a friend who was sent without their double-checking it and it made you begin to question their sanity or Christianity because of the words that ended up being sent?! I’ve been on both ends of those funny kind of moments. But of greater concern today than a personal verbal (or written) blunder – those comments pass and are forgivable – are the words which are purposely said and written which sound good and attractive but have hidden intentions and motives which play out in a negative manner. These are more alarming and should grab our attention and further examination.
The secular narratives of Western culture today are repeated again and again, and in most cases, the teaching of today’s organized church does not do an adequate job of refuting or undermining these beliefs. Due to this, we see an increasing number of these secular beliefs adopted by Christians because they seem attractive and the biblical truth has not been connected to those humanistic ideas in a clear and compelling way.
In his recent book How to Reach the West Again (2020), pastor and author Tim Keller tells us that these messages of the world “come at us dozens of times a day—or even an hour—in ads, tweets, music, stories, opinion pieces, etc.” (p. 39). See if you recognize any of these Keller identifies:
- Identity: “You have to be true to yourself.”
- Freedom: “You should be free to live as you choose, as long as you don’t hurt anyone.”
- Happiness: “You must do what makes you happiest. You can’t sacrifice that for anyone.”
- Morality: “Everyone has the right to decide what is right and wrong themselves.”
These are so common! Even if they are not spoken, they are embedded in the messages we see or are the moral in the stories and songs which are most popular. The young people in our churches and even Christians coming to a Christian University such as ours can often adopt these views and not see the contradiction of Biblical truth to those ideas. Paul wrote to the Corinthians who were also being seduced by the cultural messages of their day:
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 19:3-5).
The Bible has a true message which is centered on Jesus Christ. Identity is not about each person or their desire and choice to be what they want to be. The Bible says that God created man in His own image, to reflect the glory and being of God in him. He created each one as male and female in a complementary way to reflect Him (Genesis 1: 26-27). To reject one’s created sex is to reject God’s creative work which He states is very good (Genesis 1:31) and in His image.
The Bible describes man’s fall into sin. Because of this, man struggles with God’s perfect creation. But it does not change God’s design and intent. The sinful should not question the perfect.
Man, as a sinful being wants his own Freedom. God’s Word clearly states that freedom to be all that God created us to be is found in living in obedience to God (Romans 6:15-18). We are never truly free without Christ because we are slaves to sin and the evil one.
In fact, your Happiness is not lasting joy without something or someone to live for more than yourself (2 Corinthians 5:14). A moment of early pleasure can bring years of hardship and regret. So is that really happiness, as many present popular songs promote?
Morality is living according to a standard. If each person chooses his or her own standard, there will constantly be conflicting standards and violations of others’ morality. If our laws were based on this thinking, there would be no culpability for evil perpetrated on others if it was not against your personal standards of right and wrong. But evils such as rape, murder, and racism are always wrong no matter the standards or the state of the individual carrying it out. This is because God is righteous and has a standard of truth for each one of us to allow us to have meaningful lives.
I would agree with Tim Keller that we need to speak a biblical narrative that is counter-cultural and supplies a strong alternative to the predominant messages summarized above. This is not to be done in a condemning or judgmental way, but in a gracious, loving way because we desperately want others to have this life-giving reality and escape the “strongholds” which the enemy uses to hold mankind captive to him. Life without Christ really is hopeless! Let’s hold out hope and shine light into the darkness. We need to perceive the intentions and motives of false narratives in our world. We can do this by simply asking good questions of others around us. What happens if we play that thinking forward? Where does it lead? How are others impacted by those self-centered ideas? What if there is a master design and plan for each person’s life and real joy comes from discovering this?
We need your prayers for our faculty and staff as we daily teach and talk with students who are the future ministers in our world. Satan would seek to neutralize them by these ideological strongholds. But through your prayers and encouragement, God will win the day and call these students’ hearts and minds to follow Him and learn to hear, and later, be a voice for God’s truth. Will you join us in this battle? Pray for your own church and their efforts to also preach and teach this.
By His Grace,