Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Living a God Honoring Life



We are created in God’s image.

The main point of that reality is that we are to be God’s representatives in the world. I like to say, “We are created to demonstrate God’s character.” 

Demonstrating God’s character means, like any good representative, that we bring honor to Him. Our lives should honor God.

This is how Jesus lived. 

On two occasions (his baptism and the transfiguration) God declared that He was pleased with Jesus (Matthew 3:17 and Matthew 17:6). Jesus lived the life that God desired him to live.

A question I need to ask myself is: Do I seek please God with my life? 

I confess the answer is scary. 

Honetly, I have a desire to honor God and to please Him with the way I live. If that wasn’t the case I wouldn’t be a pastor and I wouldn’t spend so much time thinking, writing, and talking about following Jesus.

There is no doubt that I want to live a life that honors God.

Yet, when I take an honest evaluation of my life, I get discouraged by the lack of intention that I put into actually living a life that follows Jesus and honors God.

I realize that part of this is human nature. It is hard to give up our agendas and pursue God. 

We are trained to think about what is best for ourselves and to look after number 1. Perhaps it should come to no surprise that part of what Paul prayed for the Colossians, people he had never met, was that they would live lives that honored God.




In order to honor and please God, I must have a knowledge of God’s will. 

The number one way to know God’s will is to be a student of Scripture. This includes personal reading and study to sitting under the instruction of qualified teachers. We need to be diligent and intentional in learning for God’s Word.

To honor and please God, I need to be a person of prayer. 

Paul prayed that God will fill the Colossians with a knowledge of His will and spiritual understanding. While it is essential for us to be intentional students of the Bible, the reality is that part of being a student is asking for help. Through prayer we can ask the Author for the help we need in understanding.

To honor and please God, I need to obey. 

It is one thing to know what to do, but it is another to do it. Remember, faith isn’t so much about believing the truth at it is about living the truth. By living out the truth we know we discover even more and deeper truths about God. 

Living out the truth isn’t just about living a moral life and going to church. It is also about bending our wills to the will of God. It is about doing those hard things that He asks us to do that we don’t want to do.

It isn’t easy to live a life that honors and pleases God. 

The easiest thing to do, in the short term, is to continue to live the way I want to live. That way of life requires little effort from me.

We were created to demonstrate God’s character, so for us to experience life at its fullest, we have to intentionally seek to do God’s will. In this way, we will live a life that honors God.



Thursday, September 30, 2021

The Bible is not an Answer Book


 I love the Bible. 

In fact, I believe that people who follow Jesus should be readers and students of the Bible. In the Bible we discover God, His character, and His will. 

Without the Bible we would not be able to follow Jesus or be the people God created us to be.

Last year I lead Bethlehem Church through The Story to give us a good overview of what the Bible is about. One of the things I constantly talked about through that series is that the Bible is gift from God. In all the 30 sermons I preached, I said, “We need to read, study, meditate on, and pray the Bible to be good stewards of the gift God has given to us.”

Even though I have a high view of Scripture, I also understand that it has limitations.

As modern readers of the Bible, we often approach it as if it has the answer to all of life’s questions. That is a primary reason why we  read and study the Bible: to have all the right answers.

Instead of viewing the Bible as an answer book, we need to see the Bible  as a tool to help create a worldview. It may not provide the answers to all the questions asked in our culture, but it does provide a framework that helps us create a Christian worldview.

I have been pondering how we use the Bible the past few days for a couple of reasons.

1. BibleProject has a podcast series that looks at ancient cosmology. One of the key points in the series is looking at how the Biblical account of creation is in dialogue and debate with the other ancient creation myths. 

Many Western Christians, for the past 120 years or so, have used the Bible to provide facts and answers about the beginning of the universe. The problem is that the Bible was not written to answer modern scientific questions. It was written to give God’s people a particular view of the world and to combat the pagan religious views of their neighbors.

Therefore, we shouldn’t expect the Bible to give us definitive answers about the how and when of creation, but we should expect it to give us an understanding about who God is and why He created the world.

2. Preston Sprinkle wrote:

If someone experiences and congruent between their biological sex and their gender, which one determines who they are—and why? What does the Bible say about this question?

That’s the problem. The Bible doesn’t directly ask and answer this question. There’s no verse in, say, Leviticus 28 that says, “If thy gender identity does not match thy biological sex, then thine body is who you really are.” Or whatever. (There is no Leviticus 28, in case you are flipping pages to check.) But the Bible does say quite a few relevant things about human nature and the importance of our biological sex which will position us to cultivate a theologically informed and biblically rooted answer to our question. (Embodied, p. 63)

After doing lots of research, Sprinkle admits that the Bible doesn’t contain the answers to the questions surrounding the transgender conversation. You can’t compile a list of verses that deal specifically with these issues. 

Not only is this true for the transgender conversation, but it is true for many of the questions we have today. Our culture is significantly different from the cultures that the Bible was originally written for. We shouldn’t expect to to have answers to our modern questions.

Since the Bible is God’s gift to His people, we can expect that it will give us a proper perspective to see the world.

It is important to make this shift away from seeing the Bible as an answer book to one that helps us create a Christian worldview.


God did not give us the Bible so we can have all the right answers. 

Rather, He gave us the Bible so we can become the right type of people. 

If we primarily use the Bible to have the right answers, to win arguments, and to point out other people’s sin then we are using the Bible wrong.

The Bible should help form us into the people God created us to be. One of the ways it does that is to create a proper perspective for us to see the world.

Let the Bible form your worldview.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Best Motivation


 Our motivations matter.

We can do the right thing for the wrong reasons, but eventually we will be discovered to be a fake.

On the other hand, we can do things wrong and make mistakes, but if we do them for the right reasons those things become lessons that help us get better.

There are many different reasons why a person would follow Jesus. 

Fear is a big motivation. We are afraid of going to hell, so we want to follow Jesus to avoid the punishment.

Obligation is another reason. We think, “Jesus died for me, so I guess I had better go to church.” Our obedience is something that we feel like we need to do.

Expectation might be another reason. Our family and friends are Christians, so we feel like we are expected to be Christians as well.

Reward is a motivation for following Jesus. Not only do we want to escape Hell, but we want to enjoy the eternal life God has created for His people. We keep the end in mind to remind us what it is important to follow Jesus.

While all these motivations have their place, they miss the most important reason for following Jesus.



The best motivation we can have when it comes to following Jesus is love.

John wrote:

Love is the best motivation for following Jesus because it is a response to the love Jesus had for us.

It was love that motivated Jesus to show compassion and heal people. It was love that motivated Jesus to spend time with those on the margins of society. It was love that motivated Jesus to stand against the oppressive behavior of the religious leaders. It was love that motivated Jesus to leave Heaven, become a man, and die a painful death on a Roman cross.

Love is what motivated Jesus.

The proper response to love is love.

This means that the more we experience God’s love, the more our understanding of Jesus grows, and the more the Holy Spirit transforms our hearts, the stronger our love for God becomes.

Fear may have been the reason why we first decided to follow Jesus. A sense of obligation might be the reason why we first started to be committed in our weekly church attendance. The expectation of friends and family might have been the reason why we started to worship. Our starting motivation doesn’t matter, what matters is the reason why we continue to follow Jesus.

One of the ways we know we are growing in our faith is because motivation becomes more about our love for Jesus than it does anything else.

There is no formula for learning to love Jesus. It happens as we study Scripture, as we engage in the work of ministry, as we sacrifice in our giving, as we spend time in prayer, and as build friendships with other Christians. Just like other relationships, love grows stronger the more time you spend with them.

Follow Jesus because you love him.

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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Don’t Neglect to Train

 

Practice makes perfect.

This old saying reminds us of a basic truth: In order to do things well we need to learn how to do them.

This is a process that takes time. The repetition that happens through practice is essential for learning fundamentals and building muscle memory. Both are needed to make a new skill become like second nature in our lives.

If we are going to do something well we have practice doing it.

A musician needs to learn how to read music, to play scales, and to keep time before any actual music can even be played. Even then hours of practice are required to play a piece of music well.

A basketball player needs to learn how to dribble, pass, and shoot so he can play with other players. After that hours of practicing the game is needed before an actual game can be played so that both player and team play well.

Practice is a universal law governing how we improve a skill or a talent.

Since this is the case, why have we overlooked the importance of practice when it comes to our spiritual development?

Perhaps it is because we don’t want to be accused of doing “works” to earn our salvation.

Perhaps it is because we don’t have a coach, teacher, or mentor guiding us through what we need to do.

Whatever the reason, we have neglected the development of our spirits.

C. E. Orr in his book How to Live a Holy Life wrote:


One of the main problems for American Christians today is an understanding of spiritual formation. They have confessed their sin, repented, declared their faith in Jesus, and have been baptized, but then they have been abandoned to figure things out for themselves.

The American church lacks true discipleship.

Reflect on what the apostle Paul told Timothy:



Paul reminded Timothy not to waste his life in doing things that did not matter. Timothy could spend his life arguing against the silly myths of the day, which would take time but ultimately would be ineffective and a waste of his time.

Timothy could also devote his time to healthy living and exercise, which would benefit the body, but would have minimal impact on his spiritual formation.

Instead Paul told him to train for godliness.


How do we do that?

If we approach our spiritual formation in Jesus like we approach training and practice in other areas, like music and sports, then I think we can see two commitments we must make.

First, we need to commit to spiritual disciplines. Spiritual disciplines are activities that God’s people have historically done to mature as people of faith. In fact, many of these disciplines are things that Jesus during his time on earth. These disciplines include activities such as Bible study, prayer, fasting, giving, and worship. These things are the equivalent of learning how to play a music scale or learning how to dribble a basketball. They are want teach your mind, heart, soul, and body how to act when faced with the realities of life.

Second, we need to commit to Christian duties. Duties are those things that God expects His people to do. They include things like serving people, forgiving those people who hurt us, sacrificing time and money to help make disciples, and standing up for what is right. These are not things that we do naturally or even enjoy doing, and that is why they become duties. When we do them, because of our love for God, they teach us humility and loving neighbor as ourselves. These duties are much like practice. They are boring, just like playing the same piece of music a thousand different times or going to basketball practice day after day and compete against the same people, but they help you get ready for the concert or game. When we make the choice to do these duties we are preparing to meet the unpredictable choices that we face in life.


If we are going to be like Jesus we need to train to be like him. This training is going to take a lot of hard work on our part and a lot of grace on God’s part, but working together transformation will take place.

We can be conformed into the image of Jesus!


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Friday, September 10, 2021

Trust God to Forgive


It is never easy to admit that we have made a mistake. 

The bigger the mistake the more we want to hide it, deny it, or ignore it. 

It is no wonder that we have a hard time confessing our sin, even in our private prayers to God. The result is that we carry around a complex baggage of guilt, shame, temptation, and habitual sin. This reality makes it difficult to accept God’s promise of forgiveness.

I know that I find it hard to confess my sins to God because I am embarrassed about what my sin reveals about my weakness. 

 After all I should know better! 

 “If I truly had faith,” I reason, “this sin wouldn’t be a problem.”

As a result I keep my distance from God. I don’t want to be weak faithless fool before Him.

Perhaps you struggle with asking for forgiveness because you are afraid of God. 

There is a voice inside of your mind telling you that if you confess your sins to God then He will punish you.  

“After all,” you think,  “isn’t God going to judge lawbreakers?”

In his book Created to Be God’s Friend, Henry Blackaby wrote:



Faith is lived out through trust. 

The question we need to ask ourselves is this: Do I trust God to forgive me? 

If we don’t trust God to forgive then we won’t turn to Him and confess our sins. 

Instead we will run away and hide. We will ignore the sin that is ruining our lives. We will do every thing we can think of to avoid God.

For us to trust people we have to believe that they have our best interest at heart.

This means we need to answer this question: Is there any reason why we should trust God to forgive us?
 
The reason we can trust God is Jesus. 

The life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the evidence we need to trust that God will forgive us. This is true, no matter who we are or what we have done.

The writer of the book of Hebrews gave us this gem of truth:



How do we come before the throne of God? 

First, it requires our surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord. If we are not willing to be a follower of Jesus it is impossible for us to experience God’s gift of forgiveness. Jesus is the High Priest who has prepared the way to God. There is no other way to forgiveness except through Jesus.

Second, we need to confess our sins to God through prayer. God knows our sins, and He has declared His willingness to forgive. Yet, forgiveness requires the acknowledgement that we have done something wrong. This is an act of trust, because we need to believe that God has our best interest at heart. So we confess our sin because we trust that God will forgive us.

Third, we need to worship God. From singing praise songs to serving people in need, it is important that we set our hearts towards God. Worship requires the right motivation more than it requires the right actions. We can go through the motions of worship without love and trust. Worship that is grounded in faith is the type of worship that God desires from us.

Living in these bodies of flesh in this world means that sin will be a part of our lives. 

Not only do we need constantly struggle with sin to eliminate it from our lives, we also have to trust God to forgive us when we sin. 

God is gracious and willing to forgive us, but we need to turn to Him and ask for it.

Trust God to forgive you.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Committed to the Body



Something that has been on my mind recently is our commitment to the local church.

As a pastor this is something that concerns me a great deal. The church, a local community of Jesus followers, is a gift from God. 

In the church we have people who are there to support us, encourage us, grieve with us, and help us. It is a community where we find acceptance and belonging. At its best a local church provides the environment needed for discipleship to happen.

Granted, local churches are rarely at their best. The realities of poor leadership, personal agendas, and inconsistent attendance make it difficult for the church to feel like home. 

I agree, being part of a local church can be a lot of work and it can be messy. There are many reasons that making a commitment to a local church is difficult.

This morning on Twitter I saw this:

I think many of the problems we have with the various expressions of the local church come back to consumerism. 

We have these expectations of what the church should be like and when it doesn’t live up to our expectations we are willing to leave. It doesn’t matter that we are handicapping that church as they seek to take the Gospel into the world, because our needs aren’t being met.

All are different expectations are not what makes a church a church.

The reality is that there is not much a group of believers need in order to form a church. One thing that is essential for a church to exist is commitment.


We were created to bear God’s image in this world. The full expression of that image comes when we are working together as we love one another and serve the world. 

That is when we truly become the body of Christ.

This is why leaving a local church family handicaps them. It is like removing a hand, leg, or eye from a person. Sure, he still can function, but his ability to do work is limited.

Leaving a church may not kill the church, but you make it more difficult for them to do ministry.

I am not saying you can never leave a church.

I am saying that by making the church something you attend or a service that you receive, you make it easy to hop from church to church when your expectations are not met. 

In this way you handicap the mission of the church.

Being committed to a local church is a responsibility that we have as followers of Jesus. 

I want to encourage you to commit to a local church, even if the sermons are boring, the music off key, and the people are a mess, because you will be a blessing to them, and through them God will bless you.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

A Repentant Heart

As a life long Christian, I know the right things to say.

For instance, when life becomes difficult I know that the right thing to say is, "I am trusting God an His timing." 

I may say that, but the reality is that I am full of worry. Rather than praying and doing the next right thing, I distract myself with scrolling through social media or watching YouTube videos. Then I wonder why God never showed up.

It is possible to say that right words while lacking the faith to believe those words. 



The prophet Isaiah made it clear that God wants to help us. His desire is to show us love and give us life.

Here is the kicker: God is waiting for us.

He is generous and desires to help, but we are not turning to Him for help. We are trying to make it on our own. If we would stop and turn to God the experience of our lives would be different.

What is the answer? 
How do we receive the love God has for us? 

King David in Psalm 51 gives us an insight on how we are to approach God:



David wrote this Psalm after Nathan the prophet confronted him about his sin against Uriah, stealing his wife Bathesheba and murdering him. For a year afterwards David pretended everything was fine, but in reality it wasn't. So when David thought about what he needed to do, in light of Nathan’s words, this is was came to his mind: Repentance.

At the heart of repentance is the denouncement of our actions and declaration of our loyalty to God. 

Repentance requires both.

This isn’t about coming to God through religious piety and tradition. Going through the motions of religion does not move God’s heart. 

What moves the heart of God?

Our heart is what moves God.

We can imitate the motions. 
We can fake the right words. 

What we can't fake is the genuine emotion, motivation, and intention of our heart. There needs to be a genuine sorrow for our evil and a genuine desire to be in a relationship with God for Him to act on our behalf.

God waits for us because He wants us to have a heart that desires Him above everything else in our lives. 

Until we approach the throne of God broken and repentant we will never realize the awesome love God has for us. 

This makes pride the biggest obstacle we have in experiencing the love of God.

When we are prideful we believe we change the circumstance of our lives by ourselves. We pursue happiness the way we think is best. We may say all the right things and go though the motions, but the intentions of our heart is on our plans. 

Our pride keeps us from experiencing God’s love.

I am  tired of mouthing the right things and ignoring God. 

My pride has kept me from admitting my weakness and my need for God’s wisdom and strength. 

I come before God with a humble spirit in search of His love. 

Will you do the same?

Monday, September 6, 2021

The Benefit of Principles


Last week I posted this to Facebook:

 

I believe this is true for the majority of controversial topics that are out there today. We watch a 7 minute segment on Tucker Carlson or Rachel Maddow  and think we understand the topic to give our hot take on it. To truly understand topics we need investigate all sides of an argument. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a gut feeling on things (often that is all that we can go on because we can’t properly study every topic out there), but it does mean that we don’t present our gut feelings as THE truth on these topics.

There is no possible way that we can adequately research all the different areas of knowledge that are out there. No one is an expert on everything.

This is why it is okay to go with our gut feelings on things. When we do so we need to keep in mind that our guts could be wrong.

The gut feelings that we have often come from the principles that make up our lives. For instance, when it comes to something like biblical interpretation or reading the Constitution, the principle that guides my understanding is: How would the original readers understand this. 

Granted, this is not always easy to figure out, but it helps us establish the original intent, then we are better able to apply that to our lives.

When we have certain principles that guide our lives, they provide shortcuts to through the maze controversial issues that we face in life. They provide a solid ground for us to stand on and they give us a starting point on determining what is true.

Since we don’t have the time or the ability to research all the different topics out there, our principles provide us with a way to navigate the landscape of current opinion as we seek to follow Jesus.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Masks, Vaccinations, and Love



Jesus said:
“The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31, NLT)
There is no question that in order to follow Jesus we must love our neighbors.


This has been a common sentiment the last 18 months as we have endured the COVID pandemic.

I understand the thought. Part of loving people is not harming them. That means more than not physically hurting them. It means if we can do something to keep people safe we should do it.

Before I go any further I want to point out that I am not a scientist. The last science class I took was a community college biology class 30 years ago. My point is not to make a scientific case, but help us think through how we love people.

With that in mind, is this thought about masking wearing and being vaccinated the best way to love our neighbor?

In my mind this argument depends on assuming that wearing masks and being vaccinated are the only ways to keep people safe. Therefore, if we don’t want to harm to someone then that requires us to mask up and get vaccinated. 

The reality is that there are other things we can do to help keep people safe. We can wash our hands, we can cover our coughs and sneezes, and can stay home when we are sick. Those are all things that help keep people safe.

The key here is about motivations. You are acting in love, even if you decide not to mask up or be vaccinated, when you consistently and intentionally practice other ways to keep people safe.

If the reason you are refusing to mask up and to be vaccinated is because you are going to “protect your rights,” and you don’t do other things to keep people safe, then you are not loving your neighbor. 

As Christians, our primary task is to love people. That means that our greatest concern isn’t about our personal liberties, but the well-being of others. So, if our primary reason for not wearing masks and not being vaccinated is about our rights AND we don’t do other things to protect the health of others, we are failing to keep the most important commandment.

It all comes down to motivation.

This is also important piece of the puzzle.

Again, it is legitimate to think that these actions we are being asked to make, and in some cases that are being mandated, have little benefit. That doesn’t mean we can disregard the health concerns of other people. That is why it is essential, as we seek to love people, that we are consistent in doing alternative things to protect the health of people.

Another reason why I think this line of reasoning should be pushed back on is because we can use it as a reason to do other things. We can say that we want socialism because it promotes “loving our neighbor.” 

I would argue that a free market economy that promotes the free exchange of goods, services, and ideas is the best way to  love your neighbor. 

While the stated goals of a more socialist economy appear to be loving, in the long run it could lead to more hardship and harm, which would be unloving. 

This is why we shouldn’t pull out the  “love your neighbor” card when we are talking about policy. Something seem to be loving in the short term might have longer negative effects. So people who are opposed to government mandates for masks and vaccinations are opposed to them because of unintended consequences that will show up later, including greater governmental interference in our private lives.

It is important that followers of Jesus take the command to love our neighbors seriously. As you think through how to love people we also need to consider our motivations and the consequences for our actions.

 

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Theology of Rights


I have had these three tweets from Skye Jethani rolling around in my head for a couple of weeks.



I follow Skye on Twitter because I occasionally listen to The Holy Post Podcast, which he cohosts. Even through I don't always agree with him, I do find his thoughts to be interesting.

That is how I feel about these tweets. I don't 100% agree with them, but they sure got me thinking.

The part I absolutely agree with Skye about is the need for a corporate theology. American Christianity has developed a very individualized faith. It is all about my personal relationship with God. 

I have written before how we don’t just have a personal relationship with God, but we have a covenant relationship with God. An understanding of the covenant nature of Christianity would go along way to help us grasp the truth that we are part of God’s Global Family, and that our relationship with God includes our relationships with other people.

With that being said, when it comes to the topic of masks and vaccinations more than a corporate theology we need a theology of rights.

The reason I say this is because Americans, even though our Constitution was created to protect rights, have a poor understanding of what rights are. 

This lack of understanding about rights is true for people inside and outside the church. We have many people who want to stand up and claim something as a right to justify what they want to do.

One of the reasons we need a proper understanding of rights is because it helps us navigate these type of conversations.

Do I have the right to choose to wear a mask or not to wear a mask? 
Do I have the right to choose to be vaccinated or not to be vaccinated?

We need a way to determine if something is really a right or if we are using freedom as a  justification for doing what we want to do.

A second reason why we need a proper understanding of rights is because it helps us understand the sacrifice we need to make so we can follow Jesus. 

In Philippians 2:7 (NLT) we read:
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.

Jesus gave up, in other words he sacrificed, his rights in order to save us. 

Looking at this passage through the lens of rights, Jesus saw his rights as something that he could set aside in order to love his Father and to love people. 

Our rights, like all of God’s blessings, are to be used for the good of His kingdom. That means there will be times when we have to set aside or sacrifice our rights in order to love people.

Remember, sacrifice is one of the primary ways we worship God.

For example, I am a big 2nd Amendment guy. I think we have the right to self-defense and to protect the lives of our family and friends. If we believe that, then we understand the sacrifice we make when we lay down our weapons for the sake of the Kingdom.

Having a proper understanding of rights allows us to have the conversation about how we properly use our rights, when we should work to protect our rights, and the when and why we should lay them down to follow the example Jesus.

Here is the bottom-line: A proper understanding of our rights helps us know when a sacrifice of our rights is needed in order to love people.

When it comes to these questions about masks and vaccinations here are a couple of thoughts I have.

It doesn’t matter what your position on masks are, whether they are effective or not, it is not a violation of your rights to wear a mask to spend time with a person who is more concerned about COVID than you are. In fact, wearing a masking is the loving thing to do because it is taking in to consideration the other person’s thoughts and feelings.

When it comes to vaccinations I think things are a little different. 

God created us to be good stewards, and being good stewards includes taking good care of our bodies. I don’t think it is wise or loving to tell a person unsure of the health benefits of a vaccine that they need to be vaccinated in order to show love to other people. This is especially true since there are other ways for a person to protect others, like practicing good hygiene and staying home when you are sick. 

Therefore, as long as a person is practicing good hygiene and staying home when not feeling well, they are not violating the command to “love your neighbor,” because they are doing other things to keep themselves and other people healthy.

Having a good theology of rights would help us know the proper use of our individual rights and us understand when to sacrifice those rights so we can love our neighbor.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Don’t be Lazy in Your Thinking



Many of us live in an echo chamber.

“What is an echo chamber?” You ask.

According to Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary an echo chamber is:

a room with sound-reflecting walls used for producing hollow or echoing sound effects —often used figuratively, “Living in a kind of echo chamber of their own opinions, they pay attention to information that fits their conclusions and ignore information that does not.”
To say that we live in echo chambers means that we live in an environment where our worldview is endorsed and confirmed rather than challenged.

I know why we prefer the echo chamber. It is hard word to defend our worldview and think through our beliefs. We would rather be told that we hold the correct beliefs about the world.

Unfortunately, that causes us to miss out on what other people are truly saying. Often, it positions other people as the enemy because they have an opposing view than what we have.

Preston Sprinkle offers some good advice.


I think it is helpful to remember two very important points.
  1. Reading or listening to people outside our tribe doesn’t mean we will switch tribes. When I read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and A Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris I was told to be careful. There was a fear that if I read books by atheist authors I would become an atheist. To have this fear means that we are not very confident about our own positions to begin with. We fear that one little thought from the “other side” could cause our worldview to come crashing down. It is important for us to take the time to learn why we believe the things that we believe.
  2. Reading or listening to people outside our tribe opens our eyes to nuances in the different positions. I see this happen all the time. It is easier to create a caricature the other side’s beliefs rather than actually dealing with them. This at the core of what Preston Sprinkle called “lazy thinking.” 
Read books, or listen to, people who don’t think like you.

Not only will you be better equipped to handle their arguments, you might just learn a thing or two along the way. 



Living a God Honoring Life

We are created in God’s image. The main point of that reality is that we are to be God’s representatives in the world. I like to say, “We ar...