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What if Your 20s Weren’t What You Expected?

Somewhere between elementary school self-esteem talks, Jesus Freaks youth group lessons, and “you can single-handedly evangelize the 10/40 window” college mission conferences, we were pumped up and ready to change the world. We anticipated picture-perfect marriages and families after we signed our commitments at True Love Waits and kissed dating good-bye. What could go wrong when we had the prayer of Jabez on our side and enough Christian T-shirts to win the world to Jesus? We were doing our part with sponsored children, the 30-Hour Famine, and prayer vigils for the persecuted church. God would certainly give us the good life with all of that sacrifice, wouldn’t he?

Although we consistently asked what would Jesus do, no one told us how important it was to learn how he dealt with suffering. While we may have escaped much of the suffering of the world and generations past, we weren’t equipped to deal with the realities of life. We had categories for the American dream and grand ministry experiences, but many of us didn’t have a framework to endure deaths of siblings, financial hardship, cancer, or family conflict. Here we are, 10 years later, trying to deal with hard things and coming to terms with our own sin, and the harsh fact that suffering isn’t ageist after all.

Some good thoughts from Jackie Knapp on The Gospel Coalition Blog.

“If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.”

Tim Keller The Reason for God

To be a Christian does not mean that we are to change the world, but rather that we must live as witnesses to the world that God has changed.

Stanley Hauerwas

“Is our age passing from civilization to barbarism? Civilization is too fragile. Always the result of human consciousness and its confidence, it is never the product of its achievements, however glorious, or its institutions, however solid. The West today, with its self-confidence sagging, vitality ebbing, and order eroded, knows only introspection, lethargy, traditions. Prone from exhaustion, a prey to its own fears, it is in danger of being overwhelmed by the anxiety, apathy, and anger of a humanity strangled within it. Thus it is vulnerable to the frustration and fury of those enraged by the betrayal of it meaning.”

Os Guinness, The Dust of Death (Buy on Amazon – US|UK)

Written in 1994, The Dust of Death: The Sixties Counterculture and How It Changed America Forever, speaks to the heart of the problem in the UK today in the face of the recent rioting.

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” G.K. Chesterton, What’s Wrong With The World (Buy on Amazon – US|UK)

“Schaeffer was the first Christian I met who was concerned to, and capable of connecting the dots and making sense of the extraordinary times that puzzled and dismayed most people.”

From An Interview with Os Guinness on the 25th Anniversary of Francis Schaeffer’s Death.

Some great thoughts and reflections from Dr. Os Guinness. We’ve just been looking at Apologetics and Worldviews in the Reformation Generation seminar.

Francis Schaeffer has been hugely influential in my understanding of how to “think Christianly” and how to engage in this world. I belive that Biblical faithfulness without cultural awareness is useless to those who are lost. I’m reminded of something Schaeffer says in The God Who Is There (US|UK):

“An orthodoxy without understanding or compassion is ugly.”

We are to feel the issues and reality of life and have good answers to speak to the problems we encounter. Answers alone are not enough.

“It may be, that if the Christian takes his gospel sufficiently seriously to bring it with informed conviction to the realms too long abandoned as ‘secular’, the politician, the scientist, and the philosopher will take it seriously, too, and the end of the wilderness journey be in sight.”

Edward Rogers, ‘A Christian Commentary on Communism

Quote from the Imperial War Musuem, London. In the corridor leading to the World War I and World War II exhibits.

“The proclamation of grace has its limits. Grace may not be proclaimed to anyone who does not recognize or distinguish it … The world upon whom grace is thrust as a bargain will grow tired of it, and it will not only trample upon the Holy, but also will tear apart those who force it on them.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer quoted by Eric Metaxas, ‘Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

Update: Full review of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy now online

“More than any other single thing, in any case, the practical irrelevance of actual obedience to Christ accounts for the weakened effect of Christianity in the world today, with its increasing tendency to emphasize political and social action as the primary way to serve God. It also accounts for the practical irrelevance of Christian faith to individual character development and overall personal sanity and wellbeing.” [Italics his]

Dallas Willard, ‘The Divine Conspiracy