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I had this plan (surprise, surprise). I had it all figured out. I was going to do a series of posts giving my opinion on the culture war. Ha ha.
As I was planning and thinking things through, God began to whisper into my spirit. The thought was basically, “is that what you really want to do? Is that who you want to be?” Of course, the answer was “no”. I was headed down a path that bordered on “the latest topic of the week”, and that isn’t what I wanted.
There are two issues I want to address with this post. One, the idea of topical vs. “exegetical”. Two, the idea of “us vs. them”. It will make sense, soon.
I don’t really like the idea of the whole “topic of the week” thing. To me, it is like a ‘knee jerk’ reaction to the world, and we have enough of that in the culture.
In my theology training, I had to take preaching classes. Preaching is part of ministry. There are two basic versions of preaching (in my mind). One is topic driven. This can be just various topics in theology or even preaching about different bible characters, etc.
The other version is preaching that is driven by the text of scripture. This can be what is often described as Expository or exegetical preaching. It has a huge variety of types and names.
I have a personal preference. I repeat, it is a PERSONAL PREFERENCE. The theological weight of this is honestly about as important as what color the new carpet in church will be. I prefer the text driven. It seems to provide a richer, deeper message…to ME.
Now, what I present in these next few statements, it has taken me a long time to get here. If your pastor preaches topic based sermons, it’s ok. If he respects the text and presents it the best way he can. Ok. That is fine. If you wish he would preach more text based sermons or series on bible books, pray that he will. Ask God to help you with how you feel about it. Ask God what is going on with what you are feeling. Is He asking you to do something? Pray and ask for wisdom. Compare what you believe God wants of you to what scripture says. As long as your pastor is doing the best they can to be a pastor to you, it doesn’t matter about their preaching style. Respect what they can do and love on them.
Why does this matter in the culture war? Because often times I think we react to the culture war instead of trying to act proactively. We go off on “culture war crusades” without even thinking about what we are doing but believing it is the right thing to do.
One of the themes I have noticed in the culture war is a prevailing attitude of “us vs. them”. Almost any issue we encounter in popular culture today is presented as “us vs. them”. North vs. South. Liberal vs. Conservative. Haves vs. The have nots. Power wielders vs. The powerless. Differing leadership styles (servant vs. Dictator). Workers vs. The bosses. Woke agenda vs. The non-woke(?) Agenda. Movie stars vs. TV stars. And then there is the lion’s dens of social media, government, and academia. Us vs. Them.
The issues are typically much deeper than that, but the people who stand to gain from the outcomes of these issues prefer to keep it as a dualistic (two-sided) argument. And no one who becomes a warrior for either side walks away clean.
I can provide a real life example to explain. Many years ago, my father was a full time pastor. It was his first full time church. He had served in ministry many years, though.
A controversy came into the community. A group had purchased some land in the community with plans to established a retreat on that land. The type of retreat they planned to establish was very counter to the beliefs of the church…and that community.
It was big news. It made national headlines. My dad was even approached by some of the major news organizations to allow cameras to come into the worship services. He allowed a couple of them into the church.
My dad had a choice to make in this situation. He could step into the national spotlight and become a “warrior for the cause” or stay in background and try to work towards peaceful solutions for the situation. He chose the latter. That may sound wimpy to some, but it took a great deal of strength for my father to do that. Getting into the mix and stirring up things is actually pretty easy sometimes. Staying in the background and holding your tongue is hard.
What am I suggesting with this? One of the things I am saying is that if you are going get into the middle of the culture war, make sure God wants you there. Pray hard about it. Ask yourself why you want to do it. These things turn into yelling match side shows, mini to major versions of Jerry Springer like experiences. That accomplishes nothing.
A friend recently reminded me that we need to remember who we are as children of God. I appreciated that. Often times, this discussion comes up and people get “the warm fuzzy” feeling and feel like God has spoken to them. That is nice, but I don’t believe it lasts very long. In part, because I think there is another issue in the middle of this. I believe there is a boundary issue.
When we go into a new job, we have to be trained. We have to be able to know what to do and what the limits (or boundaries) of our job are. If we learn those well, we can manage well. We can work, practically with a sense of power. We know what to do. We know what is within our “locus of control”. We know what we can control. That gives us confidence.
Some like to say that Jesus “trained” his disciples. While I believe this is true, I also believe it leaves out part of what He did with the disciples. He spent time with them. He “dwelt among” them. That is not an easy thing to do. Not for the disciple or the teacher. There is a movie from the eighties that describes this relationship well…the Karate Kid. Daniel would get so mad at first with Mr. Miyagi. But, they worked through their tension.
I think many of us don’t really know what we are saying when engaging with those in the culture war. We are just mad and blabbing off at the mouth. We are out of control. Somebody has crossed a boundary that we thought was safe and secure and we are there to secure it.
While this is admirable, it is not necessarily smart.
We need to respond from a place of prayer or wisdom, or not respond until we are ready. If we let our egos get in the way because we are afraid someone will see us as not knowledgeable, then we are responding from a place of fear and possibly ignorance.
I have something I would like to do. One of my goals is to post more often. So, I am going to take an idea from other “fellow bloggers”. Some of them post short or simple things. One of the bloggers I follow has a blog called “Short wisdom”. It is really cool. She posts pictures of quotes (she didn’t ask me to do this, I just like her work). So, I want to start posting some short posts…one or two paragraphs. They will be relatively simple. They may have a little of a topic-of-the-day feel, but I hope not. We will see. I can only control myself.
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