Being The Church In A “Follow Your Heart” Age

Grace For The Journey

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10July  Not long ago, relativism defined the cultural conversation. Truth was “unknowable.” Perhaps it was somewhere “out there,” but anyone’s guess as to where one could find it was as good as the next.

This is no longer the case.

Today, we’re in a new cultural moment – one marked not by relativism, but by a new phenomenon known as expressive individualism.

While relativism

May label an

Assertion of external

And objective truth

As arrogant,

Expressive individualism

Calls it oppressive.

The relativist asks,

“Who’s to say what’s true?”

The expressive individualist replies, “Me.”

Look across the landscape of cultural artifacts, and you’ll find the same motif time and again:

Power and freedom are found in self-discovery.

As Tim Keller notes, “The only heroic narrative we’ve got left in our culture is the individual looking inside, seeing who they want to be, and asserting that over and against everyone else in society.”

So we really have moved on from relativism:

Truth is now not only knowable,

It’s been found.

All you have to do

Is look inside yourself.

Many in the church can identify, and to some degree even refute, relativism.

We’ve been handed enough apologetic tools and basic reasoning skills to dismantle the notion that truth is subjective.

Expressive individualism, however, is more insidious.

It allows us to appear as if we’re worshiping God, when in reality we are bowing to the god of self.  It acknowledges the power of Jesus but convinces us that He intends to use His power to further our own self-centered goals and aspirations.  It agrees we can be certain about truth, but points to our own hearts as the source.

When we center everything,

From Sunday worship to small groups,

On the individual experience,

We stoke the fire of self-worship.

It’s sobering to think about the church’s collusion with this mentality.  Rather than pushing back against individualism, congregations often subtly encourage it.

If we’re not careful,

We can betray the message

That “Christ is king”

With a method that says,

“Actually, you are.”

Biblically speaking, it’s difficult to find two terms more antithetical than self and church. And it’s not as though we must wade through cloaked language to discover this antithesis.

When Jesus calls us into His church,

His charge is not

That we discover

But deny ourselves (Matthew 16:24-25).

Further, when Jesus enumerates

The things that spring from our hearts,

Truth doesn’t make the list.

Only false testimony and evil thoughts do.

Or look to any teaching in the rest of the New Testament, and you’ll find it connected to a call to pursue humble unity and consider others more significant than yourself.

Simply put . . .

A biblical understanding of what it means

To believe in Jesus and belong to His church

Is incompatible

With expressive individualism.

Truth is neither relative nor self-generated; it is knowable.  In fact, it’s touchable.

Ultimate truth exists in

The form of a man, the God-man –

The One who died for our sinful hearts

So that we could die to them.

The fruit-desiring, lie-believing, wilderness-wandering self is the very thing we bury as we are buried with Christ.

His death for us

Becomes our death to self,

And His new life

Becomes our new life –

A life in which we deny ourselves

Instead of listening to ourselves,

In which we take up our cross

Instead of taking up our dreams,

And in which we follow Him

Instead of following our hearts.

Being a member of a local body of believers requires a radical commitment to a unified, corporate identity.  This commitment naturally undermines expressive individualism, since it simply won’t allow us to place ourselves – our beliefs, our preferences, our desires – at the center of the church’s reason for existence.

At a time when the church is, sadly, one of the first places to capitulate in the age of expressive individualism . . .

Growing in our relationship and walk with Christ

Through the local church gives Christ’s followers

A chance to regularly exercise the much-needed practice

Of leading our hearts rather than following them.

It takes whatever “truth” we think we’ve found within and subverts it with the pre-eminence of Christ and the truth of the gospel.  And the more we keep that truth – the truth – at the forefront, the quicker the so-called truth we find “within” gets exposed for the counterfeit that it is.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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