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Leading Through the Culture Wars

I want an excuse not to write this post. … It’s summer and I want that to involve sno-cones and pools and my kids, but this is burning in me. I get online and it feels like the pressure is building, like a balloon that may pop at any moment, and it isn’t one complicated, difficult thing, it’s so many difficult issues …

Racism.

Homosexuality and the church.

ISIS and Muslims.

Planned Parenthood Videos.

TRUMP… What?! Please God help us all.

Certainly these are each unique issues with unique sets of difficulties. But together they can leave us feeling a little helpless.

And maybe you are a very vocal one on the Internet about such things, or maybe you are a quiet one … sitting back and wondering what to think or what to say?

Do we keep silent hoping it all to go away, or do we give our voice to the convictions we hold dear? Most days I look at my feeds and wonder because I go online and see people I love dividing on issues I didn’t know were going to divide us, and my head spins and my heart breaks because at the end of the day whether we are winning or losing (whatever that means), it feels like publicly, we are all losing.

And I wonder what hurts God most? That’s what I think everyone that loves Jesus is trying to answer. … What does Jesus most care about?

I hear …

Jesus cares about truth.

Jesus cares about love.

Jesus cares about holiness.

Jesus cares about the oppressed.

But while everyone is yelling online what they think Jesus cares about—humble, real-life, meaningful conversations and relationships are fading.

I think the trajectory of Christendom in these moments has been to fight our side of a culture war, but Jesus is growing something deep and beautiful behind the scenes in this moment, and it is part of why these issues aren’t simple to us.

Our hope is not to redeem culture … our hope is that people would be redeemed. We want to be wise and we feel torn over how best that could happen. Love or Truth? They seem, at the moment, to be in opposition. It feels like we have to pick one.

When I was in seminary and we would get to doctrines that seemed to oppose each other, my favorite theology professor used to say, “You must learn to embrace tension or you will become heretics.”

We must embrace tension.

But we hate tension.

When you think of a rubber band held tightly from both sides—no one wants to be that strung-out rubber band … so you let go. You may hear tension and think I am speaking of compromise. But that is not what Jesus did—He showed radical love and held truth and holiness always—constantly calling us to this difficult way.

You can’t have love without truth or truth without love. They are dependent on one another. Without both, your love is built on a lie or your truth is just a law. As the church, who loves Jesus, we must be: unwavering and committed to the authority of God and His Word and unwavering and committed in new and beautiful ways to radically pursue, engage and love people within our churches and outside.

So you may be saying, Great—but Jennie, can you give me an example of practically how this could play out?

I will give you one, but I should mention that this is not the easy way. It’s easier to pick a team, see who is on your side, pick a hashtag and start throwing tweets at the other side, or to sit back and do nothing.

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jennieallen@churchleaders.com'
Jennie Allen’s passion is to communicate a bigger God through writing and teaching. She serves in ministry alongside her husband, Zac. They have four children and live in Austin, Texas. Jennie’s blog can be found at www.JennieAllen.com.