“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going to work, and walking around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity. God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
Romans 12:1-2 (The Message)
Looking for a America
We all long for a leader. And we will listen to the ones standing on the podiums of America simply because of their positions of power. Whether they be celebrities, politicans, entertainers, or anyone else…we are still looking for a leader. And in the words of U2’s hit song from the 80s… we still haven’t found what we are looking for.
America is searching. As evidenced by the divided results of our national election, the massive march for women’s rights all over the nation and a few countries around the world, and the continual flow of Facebook opinion spewing… it is obvious that we are searching.
But what are we searching for? More equality? More rights? More freedom? More,more more?
The heart of humanity is at best a selfish search for meaning, satisfaction, and the right to do whatever we want to do. At its worst, we are violent, vulgar, destructive, and murderous. American news media and politics continue to ride the roller coaster of this emotional free-for-all while those who really struggle in this world continue to do so without a camera on them. Every once in a while we will catch a glimpse of the truly broken hearted, the truly impoverished, and the truly marginalized… but we act as if we care more than anyone else does. Should we care? Well, of course. But do we really care more than others do? I think the answer lies in our response.
How do we respond to this upheaval?
From the pages of Scripture, God speaks to the heart of humanity. That is all of us. Whether we want to listen is up to us. But if we will have ears to hear.. I believe there are at least three key thoughts from God that maybe we should consider as we respond to the upheaval around us.
- Present Yourself as a Living Sacrifice. Your thoughts, your attitudes, your experiences, and your life matter. But only in service to the greater Kingdom that is at hand around you. God is building a Kingdom all around us that is not visible and that has no walls. It is greater than any political agenda, any human rights campaign, and any kingdom you may build for yourself. Lay down your rights to yourself. Recognize that this passion in you was put there by God, but it is not your god. Whatever you are passionate about, recognize that if you make that your idol, you will find yourself deeply disappointed when that passion doesn’t find itself fulfilled in the political or social agenda you are a part of. That is not to belittle your passion, but it is to bring it into check. Passion unbridled leads to misplaced affection. And if your affection is misplaced, you will find that you have wasted a lot of time on a kingdom that wasn’t God’s at all.
- Align Your Heart not with Culture, but with Christ. There is a mold that the leaders of whatever agenda you are following want you to conform to. It may be a conservative or a liberal political mold, it may be a positive or negative social justice mold, or it may simply be one your closest friends and family have fashioned for you. The thing about a mold is that it has been designed for conformity, not transformity. In other words, it is cookie cutter mass produced rather than quality and custom made. What God wants to do in your heart is not conform you to the way the culture things or handles things… but to unlock, release, and unleash the uniqueness of who He has created you to be. Once your heart is aligned with the heart of God… you begin to see things from a unique perspective and picking sides on petty political battles becomes less interesting to you. You understand that it is Jesus who transforms hearts… not picket signs, marches, positions of power or celebrity.
- Rise above the conversation of the culture. The inability to listen to one another has created in our American culture a deadly and nasty reality… we don’t care about each other unless we get something out of it. Our genuine lack of compassion for those who don’t think like us allows us the ability to speak or write snide, smart-ass comments and remarks that exude a cold unloving and very un-Christlike heart. The roller coaster conversation of our day is being hijacked by money-hungry, power-grabbing, ratings-gluttons who want nothing more than to cause riots and unrest than to bring about reconciliation and peace. If we continue to allow the dominant story of our culture to be one of victims… we will find ourselves and our children embracing values that are not building people up, but rather enabling people to continue to live in the mindset of the victim. We must not devalue our conversation in our culture… but we must rise above the narrative that is being sold to us by all those who are in power. We must put down our picket signs and our preconceived understanding of people, get out of our comfort zones and begin having conversations where we listen to one another rather than shout ignorant catch phrases and cleches at one another. Only then will we truly overcome our differences and find a way through the mess that is American Culture.
If you find this to be a stimulating conversation and you have ears to listen as well as want to be heard, I invite you to comment below. There is always room for growth in all of our understandings of one another. I encourage positive, life giving conversation on this blog. Please let me know if you’d like to join the conversation. I write every week here at Soulstuck. Hopefully we can find a way to create something better together.