We work for justice, the unborn, the immigrant, the refugee, and the forgotten—not because it will catapult us to greatness or out of some misguided sense of guilt, but because we’re bringing the good news of God’s kingdom to bear on the world. Scripture tells us that every human has dignity and worth since God created every life in his image. Christ, who reversed the curse through his death and resurrection, restores us to our image-bearing purpose (2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10). And one way we reflect and represent him is by communicating the good news in both word and deed.
Every Tuesday at noon CST, Ed Stetzer is going to be hosting live Q&A’s on topics of evangelism, church planting, leadership, culture and more.
When I was still young I resolved that I would age with grace. I would not be a dirty old man, an embittered old man, a drunken old man, a purposeless old man. I determined that in old age I would be dignified and godly, I would exemplify character and purposeful living to the end. Even then, I understood that this resolution would need to shape my entire life. I could not live a dissolute life and expect God to grant me a gift of godliness on my 65th birthday. I could not live an apathetic or lukewarm life and expect a purposeful, meaningful old age. If I wanted to be godly then, I’d need to learn to be godly now. If I wanted to live those days with purpose, I would first need to live these days with purpose. For these reasons and many more, the subject of aging is especially precious to me.
What’s less discussed is the polarization of culture, and the new echo chambers within which we hear about and experience today’s cultural hits. There will never again be a show like “One Day at a Time” or “All in the Family” — shows that derived their power not solely from their content, which might not hold up to today’s more high-minded affairs, but also from their ubiquity. There’s just about nothing as popular today as old sitcoms were; the only bits of shared culture that come close are periodic sporting events, viral videos, memes and occasional paroxysms of political outrage (see Meryl Streep’s Golden Globes speech and the aftermath).
“He has a charismatic personality.”
“She is such a charismatic leader.”
Those phrases are often credited to leaders whom others line up to follow, who are seemingly able to alter any room they enter, and who are able to quickly rally people around a vision or direction. Charisma is often defined as “compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others.”
But that type of charisma can be dangerous. We have seen leaders known for their charisma lead people in horrific directions or crumble because their own inner health was woefully inconsistent with their external persona. Here are six types of dangerous charisma.
That urgency has not changed. America has changed in profound ways, to be sure. But 2016 proved that the power of racialization is still clear and present, not merely in our national life, but within our churches. We are still “divided by faith.” And yet there are still voices who will claim that racial reconciliation in our churches is not a matter of urgent gospel priority, or that we can assume that it will happen on its own, as if by the forces of historical inertia.
The gospel calls us to something far greater though. The good news of reconciliation with God and with one another is a call to obedience. Because of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ, we are called to the path of discipleship. And that path is one of action.
I’ve been guilty of this myself. It is stunningly easy to fall into, this “confirmation bias” thing. If something sounds true — meaning, it seems to fit what we already believe — we believe it to be true without corroborating. It is the widespread epidemic of confirmation bias that has given us the relatively new phenomenon known as “fake news.”
A favorite from the archives:
“God’s given you so much, He’s done so much for you—now what will you do for Him?”
This is the trap of what John Piper refers to as “the debtor’s ethic,” that although we’re completely incapable of ever paying back our debt to God, there’s an implicit demand that we work at it. And the result is our good deeds and worship serve as interest-only payments on a debt that can never decrease.
Such a notion ought never be uttered among Christians.
And yet it is.