Culture and Christianity were not meant to coexist without conflict. By definition, they cannot agree.
These are bold statements. I’m aware. We want to think that the religion of Christianity equates to peace for all mankind. And it absolutely can. But in all of our depictions of a loving, kind, compassionate Jesus, we failed to recognize the bold, confident, and defiant man who refused to bend to the demands of culture, even at the cost of His life.
By no means am I saying that we should toss out compassion in favor of defiance; I’m simply asking that we recognize the need for both. We cannot become victims of culture, no matter how attractive it may be. Followers of Jesus have been called to a higher standard. And it’s time we rose to the challenge.
You can love Jesus and love people. All people. You just can’t love them more than Jesus.
You can live by a holy standard and reside in an unholy world. You just can’t sacrifice holiness in order to be ‘at peace’ in the midst of ungodliness.
The tension you feel between God’s standards and the world’s acceptance will not fade on this side of eternity. Giving in to the wisdom of the world will not bring the peace you desire. It will lead to a false sense of security – a temporary reprieve with eternal consequences.
Followers of Jesus have been called to live by a higher standard. And it’s time we rose to the challenge.
How have we seen this dichotomy at work in the world? A few places, not the least of which is the burgeoning strategy of self care.
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I really have an issue with our culture’s obsession with self care. It’s not hard to understand the heart behind this. And I have no concern with wanting to care for yourself in order that you may better care for others.
It’s the airplane oxygen mask theory. Think about the last time you took a flight. Recall the flight attendants standing in the aisle demonstrating how to use the oxygen masks in case of emergency. What do they always say? Place the mask on yourself before assisting other passengers with their masks.
That makes sense. You will be more effective when your body is operating at peak capacity.
My issue isn’t with the concept of self care. It’s with the execution. If my attempts to care for myself cause hurt or pain to another, is that ok? I think the world tells us it is. But what does Jesus say about this?
Do our self care efforts hinder His ability to care for us? Shouldn’t He be the one in charge of caring for us? We are the sheep of His pasture, after all.
Yes, Jesus had boundaries. But His boundaries were for Kingdom advancement, not self preservation.
How can my attempts at self care bring glory to God? That’s really the question.
I’ve had friends go MIA, only to find out later that they just needed to take time for themselves. There was no mind or attention given to the confusion or hurt that they left in their wake as they attempted to care for themselves. All of which could have been avoided with a conversation about what they were walking through.
Having compassion for oneself does not have to equate with a lack of compassion for other people.
By no means am I advocating against having boundaries. Jesus had boundaries. He had an inner circle. And He had moments when He escaped away to be alone with the Father.
Jesus famously closed out distractions by telling the man healed of blindness not to tell anyone. He literally kicked people out and closed the door in Mark 5 when He healed Jairus’ daughter. Jesus had boundaries. I’m not against them.
But I don’t see any biblical evidence of Jesus’ boundaries being only good for Himself. Everything He did was for the Kingdom. His boundaries were for Kingdom advancement, not self care.
I’m only asking that we ask ourselves, “Does this glorify God, or does this only seek to make me more comfortable?”
How can my attempts at self care bring glory to God? That’s really the question. That’s always the question:
How can I glorify God?
We’ve been lied to. Convinced that God does not want us to be uncomfortable. When in truth, there was very little about Jesus’ life on earth that was comfortable.
We’ve been told that God does not want us to be in pain, so we should take steps to avoid it or end it or escape it. But the truth is that we are to be living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. Living sacrifice means that we are alive and awake to feel the pain of sacrificing our flesh that we may walk in His favor.
And the beauty of our God is that He loves us enough to shepherd us through the hard stuff. He doesn’t leave us alone in the fire. He’s in there with us, ensuring that we are refined by the flames and not engulfed by them.
That’s Lordship: Not my will, but Yours be done.