original graphic taken from screenrant.com
TO READ MY REVIEW OF SEASON 1: THE DEVIL IN US ALL -- CLICK HERE
I just finished watching season 2 of Marvel's Daredevil and so far, I would have to say that Daredevil may be one of the most complex, deep and interesting comic book adaptation to come to a cinematic screen (big or small). Now, as a huge caveat, Daredevil is definitely not your family friendly TV show and being on Netflix, has been able to take some greater risks in seeing the darker side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Unlike the bright colours and big stage fight scenes of the Avenger movies, this show is much darker and smaller in scale. Not only does it tell the story of the little guy and the struggle of the everyday person trying to get by, it does so by not trying to sugar-coat anything. Season 1 tangoed on the line of R rated content, while season 2, danced right over that line and showed the grim dark reality of the human condition. So, if you are a parent thinking that this is another safe fun superhero movie, please think again.
Though some would question why I would write about a R rated tv show, let alone even watch it, I would have to say that though the content presented is not for everyone, I find the story, content, and topics it struggles with to be compelling and worth being explored in narrative form. It is in the story telling of people being pushed to the darkest of places and to the edge of what they think they can face and seeing how they choose to react, live and prevail (or lack thereof) in the midst of these circumstances that keeps me coming back.
On a cinematic and story telling level, season two outdoes season one. They manage to take what was great about the first season and take it to the next level. And though, this season is much more violent (which is due to the particular characters and plots that are introduced) it isn't done in such a way that is like the gore-porn or violence worship of franchises like The Saw, but uses it to shine a light on some of hard questions of injustice and the use of violence in the world. Even though this series would be considered quite violent, it always has a purpose in using it. To drive story, plot and ultimately to a point. It isn't scared to explore some harder and darker material. In this season, the overarching idea that stuck with me was the topic of justice. Though there are many other themes and ideas being developed, one of major threads that runs through all 13 episodes is this.
We see this in the contrast of the differing philosophies of both Daredevil & The Punisher and even Daredevil and Elektra (and Stick for that matter). Be it the fight scenes between The Punisher and Daredevil, the philosophical disagreement of how justice should be carried out, or even Murdock's endless fight to win Elektra back from her dark lifestyle of rage and violence.
What is even more interesting is the dialogue's between character's (be it Murdock himself, or people like Karen Page) wrestling with the idea of justice, morality and vengeance. With the justice system failing so many people, they not only question if the system is broken, but the whole idea of The Vigilante, it's need in this world and how far one should go to get this needed justice.
It brings up many different ideas on justice and how one fights injustice. Even the internal torment of Murdock himself shows the human struggle of this topic and asks the question on how we will ever deal with all the injustice. But it was the end monologue by the character Karen Page, that I think bookends this whole conversation being played out in season 2:
What is it, to be a hero? Look in the mirror, and you'll know. Look into your own eyes, and tell me you are not heroic. That you have not endured, or suffered, or lost the things you care about most... and yet, here you are. A survivor of Hell's Kitchen, the hottest place anyone's ever known. A place where cowards don't last long, so... you must be a hero.
Sometimes, when we look at all the injustice in the world, it can be hard to see light where there is so much darkness, hope when there is so much hopelessness, peace and healing when there is so much violent and fear. But, in many ways, the solution is found in us all. We are the heroes to stand for justice.
Though, of course as a follower of Christ, I do believe in an ultimate Hero, the ultimate justice bringer, who not only frees us from the prison of hopelessness, violence and injustice, but also shows us a better way, gives us the power to live this better way and be agents of hope--seeing freedom and change come and flood this world. Not by fighting violence with more violence, but defeating injustice, violence and fear with hope.
I loved the questions that this season brought out about justice, but I wonder if it falls short in tackling the answer to this question (which isn't a surprise considering the source material and where we are in the ark of the story). Can justice be brought about by force? Or must there be something even greater... like Love, Faith and Hope. As it has been said: "You can't bomb an ideology. You have to combat it with better ideology." An article I read today, reminded me greatly of this truth.
So, my battle cry is this: as Christ as our example, let us all become a people who are Full of Love, Fuelled by Faith and Addicted To Hope. Let us be the light in the darkness, the hope to the hopeless, the life to combat death and the love to combat fear. This Spirit of Hope dwells in all those who have accepted the message of Hope, and we have a choice. To be victims of our circumstances and watch the world burn, or stand as the Heroes of Hope we already are, who have endured, seen the light and now can bring that light of hope to others. It is my prayer that you choose the later and believe you can be that hero. Will you?
Drake De Long-Farmer
Drake is a passionate Frenchman who loves to see people thrive and come alive--to BELONG, wrestle with what they BELIEVE and BECOME the masterpiece God has destined them to be. Drake is a life learner and love being challenged to grow further. One of my favourite things to do is spend a good amount of time at a good café or coffee shop with a good book or challenging conversation. To be able to share in someone else's journey and experience the story that journey tells is always a pleasure and an honour. He is married to Carmen and has two boys, Davnn and Elijah. Drake currently serves as the Executive Pastor at Gateway Alliance Church, speaks and trains in various capacities and is our Editor-In-Chief at boldcupofcoffee.com.
Life is hard.
Yes I know, what a shocking, mind blowing statement. I can see all your reactions right now - ‘Whoa… no way! Seriously? Life is hard? I would never have guessed!’. Yep, you’re right. This statement is nothing shocking, nothing earth shattering, nothing overly deep or brilliant or inexplicable. Life is hard. We all know this. But have you ever thought about this – we make life harder than it has to be.
Now before you turn off your brains and think ‘Man, this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about’ or ‘Are you blaming me for my own struggles’, let me clarify. Life is hard. But we make it more difficult that it needs to be. How? By our pursuit of pleasure, at the expense of experience.
So often in life we pursue what we desire, and try to avoid the work it takes to actually get what we want. We see this avoidance all throughout our culture - we want microwavable instant pleasure and expect it to be just as good as the real thing. You wanna be rich? Just win the lottery! No need to work hard and save well! You wanna be less lonely? Just watch porn! No need to put in the hard work of building a relationship with people. No need for hard work at all!
"We live in a culture obsessed with receiving pleasure at no cost of self"
You see, we live in a culture obsessed with receiving pleasure at no cost of self - we feel entitled to what we think we want, and are wiling to do whatever it takes to get what we want. Or as James would put it, “You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight” (4:2-3, NIV). In more modern terms, you want what you don’t need but are willing to kill to get it, and you desire what you cannot get, so you are willing to fight for what you think you deserve.
You want something good? You want happiness? You want to be rich? You want to be famous? You want to be loved? You want to feel pretty? You deserve those things - so just take them! Do whatever it takes to get them! Fight people, steal money, take what you want, grab what you want from life and be done with it!
But is that the right way to live?
James calls this idea of living “Friendship with the world”. Or in the Message translation, “Cheating on God” (v. 4); but the concepts the same. We live a life seeking our own pleasure, never asking God for anything (v. 2), or only asking because we want to further our own pleasure (v. 3). And believe it or not, God is not a fan of this way of living.
“Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God” (James 4:4, NIV)
To be a friend of the world means to seek out the pleasures of the world at whatever the cost, settling for a cheap substitute of happiness, a cheap substitute of love, and a cheap substitute of sex in order to get the pleasure we seek. But that’s not how God wants us to live - no, He wants us to findtrue happiness, and true love!
James goes on to say that God “is a fiercely jealous lover. And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find” (James 4:5, MSG). Our meager substitutes for what God can offer in full - our substitutes for love, for sex, for happiness, for fun – they’re merely shadows of what God has to offer. Yet we fight for them - we struggle and we fight and we try to take what we think we deserve; when all we need to do is put aside our sword, and ask God. “Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.” (James 4:10, MSG).
“God just wants us to stop searching the world for the things He is freely giving us."
You see God wants us to be happy. He wants us to feel loved. He wants us to enjoy life. God isn’t a spoil sport who wants to bore us to death - no! He just wants us to stop searching the world for the things He is freely giving us. But He leaves that choice up to us. He lets us choose. We can continue to struggle and to fight and to try and attack others and attack the world and fight life to try and get what we want; or we can give up our sword, hand it over to God, and let Him give us what we want.
The choice is yours.
Breakaway is a movement determined to empower a community of spirit-filled believers live out their identity as Christ-followersIt's time to breakaway from Christian stigma and legalistic mindsets, and to realize the true nature of our loving Father. You can follow breakaway directly on tumblr and twitter.
original image taken from www.eveboo.com
by Charlotte O
When I was a kid, I always had a hard time sleeping the night before Easter. To me, it was just like Christmas. I was anticipating something great, wonderful, exciting. In my case, a basket full of candy. When I came to really understand the meaning the holiday, my anticipation at Easter grew. You couldn’t keep me away from the sunrise service, and that’s no small miracle for a teenager who loved her sleep. The night before Easter in the Bible story, I imagine that the friends of Jesus has similar sleeping troubles, though for different reason. They were left with grief in the shadow of the cross and perhaps shame at their own fear and cowardice in the face of Jesus’ arrest. They were left with the pain of losing a dear friend, and not even being able to perform the proper burial rituals before his body had been hurriedly cast into a borrowed tomb. So they came, on Sunday morning, with spices, with oil, ready to pay this one last respect to their beloved master, only to find that everything was changed. This is a great story. It inspires. It shines a light of hope on a dark world. It brings me a deep sense of value to think about how Jesus was willing to entrust his good news to some women, whose testimony wouldn’t even be valid in a court of law. But yet, this is not the story that I want to talk about here.
There’s another story of two disciples that takes place just a little later in Luke 24. A story that always makes me think back to a painting that hung on the wall of my grandparents’ house: The Road to Emmaus.
Somehow in my mind, I’d always pictured this scene happening on Saturday, post-crucifixion, pre-resurrection. Or maybe before they’d had a chance to hear the good news. But this week as I reread the story, something struck me.
So in the story, these two dejected disciples decide to go home after the events of the week. And on the way, they meet a stranger who asks them why they look so sad. They answer, [excerpted from NLT] “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.” They recount the story: “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.”
As I told my English students this week, it’s important to note the usage of the past perfect tense here: we had hoped. Not: we hoped, or were hoping, but a very final empty phrase. We had hoped. But no more. We had hoped. But now there is no hope. There is nothing to look forward to. We had hoped. But he is gone. It is in that tone of emptiness and disappointment that they put as much distance between themselves and the events of the past few days as possible. This phrase is why I’d always assumed the story took place on Saturday. They just didn’t know yet that Jesus was alive! They hadn’t seen the empty tomb! Everything was about to change.
But if we continue reading, we see that the problem wasn’t that they didn’t know. It was that they didn’t believe. They told the man, “Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.”
Wait a minute. The body was gone. Confirmed by several witnesses. And yet their response is not faith, but doubt. But here is the very good news: it was in their times of doubt and despair that Jesus came to them and walked with them. And sure, he called them fools. But he patiently explained everything to them, and stayed with them until they were able to see it for themselves.
He went into their home and broke bread with them. And it was at that moment that their eyes were opened. Now some suggest that they saw the scars in his hands [wrists] when he lifted them up to break the bread. Others think that this was so reminiscent of the Last Supper that they were able to see. Whatever it was, there is an important lesson here: When you have a relationship with Jesus, you can recognize his actions, even in the darkest times of your life. And yeah, maybe it does take time, but as one of my favorite speakers, Erwin McManus says: “The moment you begin to see God clearly, you begin to see him retroactively.” Or, as the disciples themselves put it, “Were not our hearts burning within us”?
That burning of heart is what you experience when you see or hear something that touches on a deep truth that already lives inside of you. And it demands a response. In the case of these two individuals, it meant returning to Jerusalem to share what had happened, and to meet Jesus again and again. The next time he appeared to him, he had these words: “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things.”
So what is our response? There are two suggested in these words, but neither is popular these days. The first is to repent. The crux of repentance is a changing of direction. Of choosing to orient your life toward Jesus. When you have experienced the hope that he not just brings but embodies, you will want to walk, not run towards it. The second is to bear witness to what has happened. That doesn’t necessarily mean being preaching at someone’s face, and never means being obnoxious. But if you truly believe in the life-changing hope offered by the resurrection, then the logical outcome is wanting those you care about to experience it too. Fortunately, the power of the resurrection is the secret to overcoming the fear, cowardice or selfishness that prevents us from living out that faith.
The kind of relationship Jesus wants with us is one where we walk with him, talk with him, eat with him. These are the actions of friends. This is a closeness that transcends knowledge of a story, adherence to cultural traditions, and the pain and disappointment we experience every day. This is a closeness that has the power to heal us, and through us, to heal the world.
I'm Charlotte O. I'm currently working with a non-profit organization in Taiwan where I teach, lead English Bible studies, write educational materials, train teachers, pose for pictures, and a bunch of other stuff too. I'm originally from Canada, spending significant amounts of time in all three westernmost provinces. I don't really know where to call home anymore, but that's ok, because I'm a citizen of heaven. I've learned that life overseas is not as exotic as people may think, but life with God is a daily adventure. I'm excited to join Bold Cup as a 'foreign correspondent.' I’ll try to keep my posts in English though.
original image take from iso.500px.com
by Evan Wain
I am sitting here at my kitchen table with an extreme case of writers block for a paper that it due tomorrow and of course that is when the inspiration to write hits me. Recently I have been investigating minimalism and what it would look like in my life. It is surprising how much stuff occupies the time and spaces of our lives constantly. As I’ve begun to realize how much stuff controls my life, the more and more I become agitated by it all. I wake up and I have the stuff I’ve acquired taking space in my bedroom, washroom, kitchen, and living room. This is a new development in my life, as someone who struggles daily with green eyes. It doesn’t stop with material possessions as I pursue knowledge in all forms, I have always wanted to know the answer and be right most of the time. Statistics, factual knowledge, literature, science, politics and computer programming have all at one point or another been a major focus of mine. If I do not know something, the process of learning it consumes me. However, for most of my walk with Jesus I struggle with one common theme: I don’t have the answers to life’s biggest questions? How do I know what God’s plan is for me? Am I sure He speaks to me?
The outside world is filled with advertisements for more stuff, most of which I have no need for. It is this unrest in my spirit that has been leading me to purge most of the belongings that do not hold inherent value in my life, and being content with that. I am not an expert in minimalism, but my brief understanding it is to be content with what I have and to be in control of what I bring into my life. For those who are interested, click here for some answers to some frequently asked questions about minimalism. I do not intend to talk more about minimalism, but I will ask this question:
Is Faith Minimalist?
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 10:27
There are many more verses that talk about how we are not to be concerned with gathering stuff or trusting in things other than God. Moving backwards here, Jesus was intentionally vague when speaking to the crowd, “… the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.” … “Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand…” (Matthew 13:11,13). Jesus did not intend to give us all of the answers. God wants us to seek Him, to pursue His voice, His presence. In fact, those who imposed burdens of ritual he had very strong words and actions against. Following God should not feel like a burden, it is not a complex series of do’s and don'ts. It is accepting Christ, and following Him.
If stuff is clutter in your life, ritualism is clutter in your spirit. Now, the traditions we have as Christians do have good intentions, and in many cases are valuable parts of our faith. Many people would call ritualism “religion”, but because many people confuse or do not know that context, I believe ritualism is a more apt description for the layman. Ritualism is “the regular observance or practice of ritual, especially when excessive or without regard to its function.” Jesus laid it out, the only way to the Father is through him. There are no actions we can take as humans that can get us to Heaven. Only Jesus. The simplicity of this baffles me on a daily basis. If I want better grades, I study. If I want more things, I work more or get a better paying job. If I am sick, I go and get medicine. If I have questions, I ask people I trust for answers. This is DOING, I DO and EXPECT positive outcomes. This is not trusting in God. That is leaning on my own understanding. Ritualism complicates this relationship with God, we believe that for us to encounter God we need to do χ for Him to even consider this. Faith has no place for ritualism, faith is absolute surrender of control, and it is simple: let go of your stuff, your possessions, your rituals, and your need for answers.
Is faith minimalist? At this point in my journey, I would answer that question as yes. Jesus did not intend for us to qualify salvation. He only said “come and follow me”. Zero strings attached.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…” Matthew 6:19-21
There are lots of resources online about minimalism that can help you with taking the clutter out of your life. Currently I am debating with myself about Project 333, which is where outside of a few exceptions you have 33 total items in your wardrobe. Now this is not something all should do, but 80% of my clothing sits unused and I am very puzzled with my attachment to sentimental t-shirts. In the past month, I have taken three bags of clothing to the Salvation Army and there is still more. It is almost sickening. A little bit of a soapbox moment here, our society’s obsession with possessions keeps us from truly trusting in God. We have everything we could ever want or need. Jesus stated that these treasures on earth are not going to last, so why are we focusing so much of our time on stuff that breaks down when the alternative lasts forever? Fear that I will lose what I have keeps me from being content. What if God does forsake me? Am I okay with not knowing the answer? To be ignorantly content with what may come? No. At this moment that terrifies me. I make plans, schedules, budgets, lists. I want everything in its place, clean and orderly. Faith is messy, which stresses me out.
Minimalist faith requires that I trust that God has forgiven me. I can do nothing to obtain salvation. Minimalist faith requires that I trust that God will provide for me. Minimalist faith requires an understanding that answers may or may not come to me. I need to ask myself daily, “am I okay with not knowing the answer?” I encourage you to try and take a couple things out of your life. If your schedule is busy, cut one program out. If your house is filled with objects without meaning, get rid of your least favorite. If you find your walk with Jesus is filled with hoops, ask God to help you identify which one you should remove first. Am I an expert in this? Not a chance. I am struggling with you at the same time, but as I stumble I move forward.
Evan Wain is currently graduating from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Education. A self-described cinema-phile he is more than willing to talk about movies and pop culture references. Saved by His grace, and forever grateful.
There’s a common theme that I have been finding is running through my interactions with people recently:
“I’m so tired.”
I’m a student. Most of my interactions are with students. A student’s life is full of midterms, projects, and assignments, and trying to keep them all under control can be extremely taxing - physically and mentally. So it’s no wonder that this is usually everyone’s response to, “How are you doing?”
But I know that this isn’t limited to students. Not at all.
Everyone has something that they’re doing everyday. And eventually I think it gets a little repetitive and exhausting. Whether a person is attending class everyday, or going to work, this is likely their answer - their general state of being.
Now, there are a lot of physical reasons for being tired: we get home late, we didn’t really get any “me”-time so we turn on Netflix and watch The Mindy Project or Suits into the wee hours of the morning, and then wake up a few hours later to go to school or work and are already tired. (Notice the specificity of the shows I have chosen here; I’m just as guilty as anyone else once in awhile.) Of course, we then rely heavily on our good friend, Coffee, to get us through the rest of the day.
But honestly, I believe that the biggest factor causing this general “tiredness” is not purely physical. It begins in our mind - our spirit. We all have a sense of this looming heaviness upon us. It brings us down all day. I don’t know what it is for you, but I guarantee that it’s made larger in your mind. Even if it’s not a specific thing, our mind is consumed by it all day. And it’s really tiring. Oftentimes it’s difficult to identify what it is, so we don’t really know how to deal with it.
I want to offer a thought.
I read a line in a book that I want to share with everyone: “Relentless hope is what gives us energy.”
I can’t speak for everyone - maybe this isn’t true for you - but in those people that are tired, exhausted, drained, I can see in their eyes a lack of hope. It just seems that there’s nothing to look forward to - nothing to put hope in. So we have no energy. Because what’s the point? Why be excited about nothing? And it’s true.
So find something to be excited about. And be relentless about it.
Don’t pick something wimpy. For me, I used to just be excited to go home and watch Netflix. I thought that would energize me because it allowed me to rest and have “Cole”-time. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and place for watching television, but it’s not strong enough to deserve your hope. It’s got to be bigger than you - bigger than your life right now. It has to push you to something different or new, and has to have meaning. I know people where this is their job. For example, I’m in education, and I know people (not a lot, but a few) that wake up every morning full of energy because they have a relentless hope in their opportunity to change kids’ lives as a teacher.
For me, my hope lies in my faith. I wake up every morning so excited to just be alive - not everyone gets that opportunity. I get excited about what amazing things I will experience, and what fantastic things that God will do through me. I know that He loves me, and I know that He wants to bless me. And he absolutely does. How do I know? Because I’m looking for it. I’m relentless in it. I’m always actively expecting God to make my life unbelievably great, and He hasn’t let me down.
It’s days where I don’t take into consideration my gratitude to God and what He’s done for me - or don’t choose to view things in light of the hope God gives me - that I feel tired or heavy or weak. I notice it in the little things. I smile at fewer people. I laugh less. I stop really caring about myself or thinking that I’m any good.
My relentless hope - my faith in God, who He is, and what He has done for me - changes everything. It gives me energy. Both physical and emotional. My spirit is filled, and I’m willing to take on everyday. I don’t want to stay in bed, because I’m so stinking excited to experience what God has in store for me! I know it sounds so cliche, but I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true.
Find your hope, and be relentless in pursuing it. You were made to be more than just tired.
Cole Benton Hatchard is my name and studying is my game. I’m in the BEd/BSc combined degree program at the University of Alberta, but rarely am I able to keep my thoughts focused on only that. I’m in a passionate relationship with Jesus Christ and I express that love in all enthusiasm and ridiculousness that I can. If I’m not examining the processes of the cell or pondering the movement of a charge in an electric field, you can find me studying any array of resources in search of personal growth and sharing this newfound knowledge with family, friends, and strangers (or what I like to call “future friends”).
original image from www.brooksbell.com
In my last article, I spent a lot of time unpacking the idea of intellectual honestly and humility. Actually, I have spent a lot of time in the past few years speaking on the idea of healthy and helpful dialogue and in most of my posts I push towards the ideas of listening, respect, and the art of understanding. I believe this is for a good reason. For the most part, people are not lacking in the ability to have an opinion and when we voice that opinion, it can easily become loud and proud (in a manner of speaking). But, it does make me wonder if sometimes I come off as saying that having an opinion or speaking up is a bad thing. So, in a way, this article is a kind of response to myself, a rebuttal, or better, a balancing of the extremes (to counter balance and keep us in tension). In a lot of ways, these two articles are two sides of the same coin. I do mention in most of my article that we should have confidence in our views and be able to fight for those conviction, but I want to expand on that a little more.
What is it about a disagreement that can put people on the defence so easily, or worse, causes an offence? No matter the topic, there can be this undertone of sensitivity when someone chooses to push back towards what we hold as a deeply held belief. It is almost as though our opinions and beliefs become an extension of our actual persona and having them challenged makes us feel as though we are being attacked. Are we are unable to divide the fact that the person is challenging our stance on a topic and not us personally? Or could it be, we are so scared to be wrong that a challenge will show us that we have flaws, that we can sometimes be wrong, or worse, it crumbles the comfort and stability of the certainty of our beliefs? There is something to be said in thinking that we have everything arranged perfectly and things make sense.
But, I wonder if there is a greater thing at work, under the surface. Flip to the other side and it is almost as though unity and agreement is the ultimate and possibly the only goal. It would even seem that the Apostle Paul would challenge us towards this end when he wrote to the Corinthians saying, "I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought." (1 Corinthians 1:10).
I mean, why wouldn't we not want this? Should we not make every effort to live in harmony with each other? Unity and harmony is definitely a honourable thing to pursue after and in a world full of conflict, hatred and disagreement, it is no wonder this thinking now permeates our ideas, culture and relationships. Though the sentiment of unity is a great one, we should never confuse unity and uniformity as the same thing.
Let me drive this home with this story. I asked the question to a room full of 100+ students: What is tolerance? And the answer was telling. It was almost an agreed consensus that tolerance meant that we agree with each other. With unity being such a high value in this crowd of students, it was almost as though it meant we needed to be uniform in our understanding of the world. That to tolerate someone's belief, we need to agree with it, or at least we are unable to have a differing opinion. It is almost like disagreement is the carnal sin of this generation. But as I explained to this group, tolerance actually demands we disagree. If we didn't disagree with their idea, we didn't need tolerance because we agree. To the contrary, tolerance is being able to give freedom to disagree while also respecting the person and their opinion as their own. It is almost as though a culture of uniformity was being formed.
This culture of uniformity can be a very dangerous one. Instead of holding everyone as equal and free, it has the potential to create systems of division towards those who believe differently than us and could quench the actual freedom it wishes to protect. It really beacons the question: if everyone should be in utter agreement, who's understanding of truth should we all be in agreement with? Now of course, not everyone of this generation holds to this definition of tolerance, but the story above still makes the point about the fear of holding a belief contrary to popular opinion. People can become scared to share their thoughts, ideas and opinions, for fear of persecution for those thoughts or the fear to offend someone else who holds a differing perspective to our own. Should we be so guarded and sensitive in hearing criticism? Should it be so hard to share ones opinion? What ever happened to being able to agree to disagree? Though we should make every effort to dialogue with humility and respect for others, the ultimate responsibility of how a person reacts (being offended or not) is up to the listener, not the speaker. We cannot control someone else's response, only our own response to criticism and how we deliver our thoughts and opinions. This is about mutual respect and openness for dialogue, is it not?
In other instances, this culture of uniformity is what can drive people to surround themselves with people who think the same way as them, dress the same way, speak the same language, vote accordingly to their party line and hold the same values... no mater what. It is safer and easier to stay in a conversation where people will have your back, echo your ideas and say amen! But in this reality, there is little chance for true challenging, or worse, can stifle new/different ideas to our own. It is here that tribes are created, and we war against those tribes that don't look like our own. So, when we interact with someone of another tribe, and propose something that exists outside their tribes agreed framework, we can be seen as dissenting of truth, a bigot or worse, hate filled. It is no wonder the term heretic gets thrown around with no real regard.
Back to the passage quoted above, when Paul speaks of agreement, it is in being unified in Christ instead of arguing over minor details of their favourite teachers: "Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?" (1 Corinthians 1:13). For Paul, it was about being united in the highest things (in Christ) and liberty in diversity. As the old saying goes: "On essential things, unity. On doubtful things, liberty. In all things, charity". Unity is never about utter agreement, but unity despite our disagreements:
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit,if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. //PHilippians 2:1-4
Unity is ultimately about love, selflessness, respect and humility. When utter agreement becomes the dominant perspective of dialogue, it can not only close down healthy and helpful dialogue, but can actually perpetuates the hate that it is trying to avoid. So, this beckons the question: can we both have an opinion that differs from someone else or another tribe and both coexist and even dialogue between each other? If you have been reading for any amount of time at all, you will know my answer is an adamant YES! I would argue that there is a better way.
What if there was an option for the ability for free open speech that both allows for disagreement and respect? To have dialogue and conversation between people who see things differently would assume that we disagree and have opposing opinions. We should never be scared of this reality, and to voice ones opinion, and this should never be received with hostility, simply because it sees things differently or challenges our ideas. I would give this challenge: both having an opinion and allowing others to have opposing opinions is possible and that we can both dialogue but live in harmony with each other. You are allowed to have a opinion and it is very possible the world may need that opinion. Let iron sharpen iron my friend and let us strive towards healthy and helpful dialogue in a world full of conflict and disagreement.
Drake De Long-Farmer
Husband, Father, Pastor, Speaker
I am a passionate Frenchman who loves to see people thrive and come alive--to BELONG, wrestle with what they BELIEVEand BECOME the masterpiece God has destined them to be. I am a life learner and love being challenged to grow further. One of my favourite things to do is spend a good amount of time at a good café or coffee shop with a good book or challenging conversation. To be able to share in someone else's journey and experience the story that journey tells is always a pleasure and an honour. I currently serve as the Editor-In-Chief of boldcupofcoffee.com and as the Executive Pastor at Gateway Alliance Church, building & leading our various teams, speaking in various capacities.
original image from slco.org
I grew up on Vancouver Island, in a city where there were many beaches and lakes for us to spend our summers at. Whether we felt we needed a day at the salty sea or boating on the lake, it was a place where we gathered quite frequently throughout the hot days of summer. Some of the beaches would have a roped off “safe area” to swim in, and either a notice of a lifeguard or a notice of no lifeguard on duty. The “safe area” was really just a roped off space that would allow the lifeguard (or guardian in the case of no life guard) the ability to easily see all who swim within it, and the ability to reach someone if they began to drown. I was thinking about this the other day as I sat in my house watching the snow fall… wishing for warmer weather… well, and a real beach. I thought about the actions of the lifeguards and how attentive they had to be with kids like myself stirring up trouble. They were constantly watching over us, ensuring that we played safe and leapt into action in a moment’s notice of trouble. They were constantly on guard, and the only rest they had was when their shift was over.
Every church has at least one lifeguard. Someone who comes to the rescue every time the church needs a volunteer, and usually, regardless of the ministry. They are the ones to always volunteer or run in to save the day when no one else decided to help. They are lifeguards because they are constantly watching over the ministries of the church, ensuring they are operating properly, and ready to leap into action even if it is at the cost of their own physical, mental and spiritual exhaustion. Because the fact is, that if someone is constantly volunteering, or jumping in to save the day, exhaustion is inevitable. And when (not if) these lifeguards exhaust themselves, the ministries that they were supporting begin to drown… the ones who kept them a float no longer have the stamina to keep themselves swimming.
Most likely you are already thinking of the lifeguards in your church… Many of those you thought of are leaders, people who are deeply invested in the mission/vision of the church, others will be the ones in the background, making sure all the technicalities run smoothly on a day to day basis, and lastly (and unfortunately) some of you have thought of your pastor. Why do I think it’s unfortunate for a pastor to be a lifeguard? Because pastors are not meant to be lifeguards… they are meant to be swimming instructors. They are the ones teaching, studying God’s word and conveying His message. The last thing a pastor should be worrying about is jumping in to save the ministries… He has his flock to worry about.
So if a pastor is not supposed to be a lifeguard… and a lifeguard is not supposed to save everyone… then where does that leave us. Well folks, it leaves us with the bystanders on the beach. The ones standing, and watching while others do all the work. And frankly, as Christians, we are not called to be bystanders… whatsoever. In fact, we are called to participate in our faith not just sit there while it is spoon fed to us. So let’s examine Serving in the Church, starting off with some of the major misconceptions as to why we don’t (or can’t) serve.
1. There Are Limited Ways To Serve In The Church
Out of all of the reasons, I can easily see why people would think that all there is to serving in the church is programs to do with Children/Youth or programs that involve Leadership… Ministries like Children’s Ministry, Youth, Worship Team, Elders, Deacons, Nursery, Sound/Projection, or other programs like Gems or Cadets.
I get it, you look at this list and say to yourself, I’m not gifted in any of these areas, I don’t like working with kids, I’m not a leader and can’t carry a tune in a bucket so there is no place for me. People hugely underestimate the amount of administrative, physical and mental preparation goes into a Sunday. Those bulletins do not just appear on paper, someone writes them up. The building is not just magically cleaned or decorated, people have to do that! Greeters, Coffee Team, Information desk, filling of mailboxes, helping people to their seats, setting up or taking down, these are all jobs that happen EVERY week! Not to mention the administration jobs to help with the children/youth ministries, treasurer, shopping for supplies. I mean the list goes on and on… and this is just for Sunday. Did you know that your church is also open Monday through Saturday??? With events and rentals and various other ministries taking place!
Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. //JOHN 12:26
2. Service Has A Time Limit
So for some of you, you have been serving in your church for x number of years. You have invested time, money and sweat equity into varying ministries and you believe that your time is up. You are retiring from service because it’s a new generations turn to work… wrong. Serving is a part of emulating Jesus, the thing we as Christians are supposed to strive for in our day to day lives! You may be right, however, in the idea that you have a “time limit” on your service in a particular ministry, but we should ALWAYS be serving in one form or another.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. //MARK 10:45
3. I Am Not Gifted To Serve
So because of our “limited scope” view of the available areas of ministry to serve in, we think that if we are not gifted in those areas, we cannot serve at all. I want to remind you of the fact that we are called as the body of Christ, that means in order to be effective and efficient in fulfilling the great commission we must work together, each of us doing our part. Think of your hand for instance, and pretend that one finger just doesn’t work. Nothing is wrong with it, it just isn’t doing its part. The hand still functions BUT it is limited in movement and mobility, it is not as effective or efficient as it could be if all fingers were contributing. There is ALWAYS a place for you to serve in the church… and if you cannot see it (or do not seek it out) then you are CHOOSING to not fully participate as a member of the body of Christ.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
4. I Can’t Miss The Sermon
This excuse… YES IT’S AN EXCUSE!!!!... drives me nuts. I have to tread carefully on this one, because of how fired up I get about it so let me try to approach this one step at a time.
Sunday Morning Sermons are not MEANT to be your spiritual meal for the week. Although sermons are a great way to gain knowledge, be challenged spiritually or for God to speak to you… YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD SHOULD NOT DEPEND ON A SUNDAY MORNING SERMON. You should be building your relationship with God 7 days a week, ON YOUR OWN, aside from Church all together. That means doing devotions or having God time everyday, even on Sundays. And the idea of missing a sermon should not result in (or be viewed as) a derailment of your relationship with God.
The definition of “doing church” is not to sit and suck in, but to fellowship with one another, lift each other up and serve one another. And if we are being honest here the phrase “I can’t miss a sermon” actually translates to “I don’t want to miss a sermon”. When you change that from a “can’t” to a “want” we begin to straddle the boundary of selfishness. If your sole reason of not serving on Sunday is because you don’t want to, yet you enjoy the coffee, drop your kids off at Sunday School or Nursery and enjoy the hellos from the greeters… you are simply being selfish. Expecting others to fill a role you just “don’t want” to fill
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. //GALATIANS 5:13
Do not misunderstand me, I am not saying you should miss every Sunday Sermon, in fact I implore you not to. It is a blessing to be challenged by our pastors, and one we must share with each other. It is an opportunity to consider a passage of scripture from a different viewpoint or a time to recharge spiritually. But if we are solely relying on one sermon to carry us through our week, we will never be able to fully experience what it means to follow Christ, because our relationship with Him is based on what someone else is showing us and not our own understanding of Who He is.
So let’s bring this back full circle. What if we didn’t rely on the lifeguards in the church? What if we built our ministries on the solid foundation of many who serve… more like giving the ministry a lifejacket. You see, lifejackets are made up of many different pieces of foam, so that when it is put on it forms to the shape of the person, fitting properly. So if we are fitting our ministries with lifejackets, if one part breaks down, that one area just needs to be repaired, and the ministry is still afloat. That way our lifeguards only have to jump in when they want to, or in dire situations.
So I’m challenging you today.
If you aren’t serving in your church I want you to seriously consider why you aren’t.
What is your reason?
Are you unsure of where you fit in? Not confident in your gifts? Are you going through a trial and need to talk to an Elder? Or is it simply because you are lazy/don’t feel the need to?
Examine yourself honestly.
Trust God completely.
Step outside of your comfort zone and get ready to see God move in you and through you.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. //ROMANS 12:1
Speaker, wife and life long student. Boldly living for Christ. Jen is currently studying Theology at Kings, Jen challenges the comfort zone and encourages boldly stepping out in faith and the promises of God.
original image from cdn.paper4pc.com
In the last couple of articles we've discussed some ideas that might have stretched us and challenged the way we see things. Why stop now? I think it's important to challenge ourselves to see differently. Perception can easily become reality. We are so often told to keep the focus off of us, today I want to do the opposite I want to make us to focus.
Full disclosure I am not a very introspective person, I very rarely spend time trying to sort through my internal goings on. I always try to keep the focus off of the area of lack and onto the source of provision. I might need to expand on that idea in another article but I will try to sum it up quickly. I love Jesus, my desire is to be like Him in love, word, and action. Instead of focusing on being less like me, I try to focus on being more like Him. It was a struggle to get to that place but I can tell you it was a battle worth fighting. In the process I learned to love myself. Here is some of that experience, my hope is that it will help you experience the freedom to love yourself and see how valuable you truly are!
I lived a pretty reckless lifestyle for the majority of my youth and adult life, I cared very little for myself or others and my decisions made that quite clear. As a result there was a lot of damage left in the wake of my choices. I didn't love myself and I had made it my personal mission to bring others down with me. What I felt internally exploded out to others. As time went on I sunk deeper and deeper into depression and isolation. I had no value, no self worth. It took me too some dark places, I was homicidal, suicidal, quite honestly I was a mess.
The first time I experienced the love of God, I was in a prison cafeteria. I was serving time, a 1-2 year sentence, for my 3rd DUI (drunk driving) arrest in 2 years. I had come to the end of myself, a failed suicide attempt prior to my trial and subsequent incarceration had left me with a nothing to lose attitude but here I sat at a Bible study in prison. To be completely honest I wasn't there by choice, a friend had bribed me into going with a honey bun. In prison honey buns are like gold bricks! So here I sat hearing the testimony of a man I had disqualified before he ever said a word. As he began to share every single word he said spoke directly into my situation. It was as if he read my case files or my criminal history.
Not only did he know my story but it was also his story. Up until this point I thought I was unique, as if nobody ever had been as bad off as I was. I was so wrong! Not only had this guy been through it all but he had overcome! I so desired to know how it was even possible. He gave me the answer, it was the love of Jesus! I didn't really know what that meant except in theory, I had been to church, heard the sermons, even went to an altar a couple times but this was different. I would never be the same.
That night I went back to my cell and prayed like I never knew was possible, I confessed everything I had ever done. I felt unburdened by my past, a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. Then began the journey to understand this love. I read stories of people in the Bible who had made bad choices, guys like David, Peter, and Paul. David really stuck out to me. He was a murderer and an adulterer but also a man after God's on heart! How was that even possible! David had experienced rejection, and isolation but he was also a giant slayer, he had experienced tremendous victories and agonizing defeats, how did he get through it all?
When I found the answer it changed everything, it was the radical, relentless love of God. David knew that his value wasn't found is his choices but in his Creator, he wasn't defined by his past, he was defined by his Father! I began to make David's story my story I began to make the Bible personal, proclaiming the love of God over myself and over my life! I proclaimed that I, with all my baggage and dysfunction, was fearfully and wonderfully made! I sought God and asked Him to make this a reality to me and to settle this in me so that my value would never be found in anything or anyone but Him and what He says about me!
God is faithful, He led me to victory in this area. He did it for me, He will do it for you! You are fearfully and wonderfully made! You are precious in His sight! When you grab a hold of this you will begin to truly love yourself and only then can you begin to truly love others!
I hope this article has been a blessing to you, I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Anthony and his wife serve as pastors feeling called to focus on their local community and work in the drug and alcohol recovery and the inner city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
original image taken from www.telegraph.co.uk
by Charlotte O
I was cheering for Leonardo DiCaprio to win his Oscar as much as anyone else. I saw The Revenant, and I have to admit, my favorite character was the scenery, which made me vaguely homesick for Canada (but not so much for Canadian winter).
Contrary to my belief going in, The Revenant was not a zombie flick, but rather a deep treatise about human nature apparently based on a true story. I had to check with Hollywood vs. History when I go home, and I was surprised to read that the truth in the story was not so much in the revenge as in the survival. In fact, Hugh Glass may not even have had a son; much less seen him killed before his eyes. According to the site, he apparently forgave those who abandoned him rather than “exacting violent revenge.” But somehow, I don’t think that version would have played out as well in Hollywood.
But it made me curious about why they chose to make such a fundamental alteration to the tale. Maybe they had an idea of the ending and knew it would take an extreme act to bring about the drama on screen. The murder of a son seems so unforgivable, and in fact we wouldn't have forgiven the directors if he had faced Fitzgerald just to let him go. Perhaps that satisfying ending reminds us of those times when we couldn't or didn't get justice from those who wronged us and we are vicariously justified in a visceral way. The movie is popular internationally because the themes are common to the human experience. See, the power of story is in how it appeals to either our human nature or divine nature. For example, I am a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings. And I believe it appeals to something within us that knows that no matter the odds, good must win over evil in the end.
But at the same time, in our current culture it seems that revenge sells: the anti-hero is bringing audiences out like never before, and portrayals of a person’s descent into darkness seem to be much more prevalent than themes of redemption. Maybe we feel a sense of relief when we see someone who is likeable but has done horrible things get away with them, because in a sense, that is who we are, or hope to be. The dilemmas of justice presented in the stories of our time invite us to decide whether law is truly a standard by which right and wrong can be measured.
I believe our sense of justice is a remnant, however often twisted, of God's image within us. However, until in humility we face our divine sentence and the awe of divine forgiveness, we are more than happy to be the judge, jury and executioner. Again and again we are satisfied with violence where God is satisfied with mercy. Christ’s response to his torture and murder was "Father, forgive them". We are not superhuman, but it might be time to stop covering our guilt up with self-righteousness, with church attendance and financial giving and kind words to friends and family, and sharing uplifting posts on Facebook, and at some point, face the fact that we are the true “savages”. In fact, that was the scene from The Revenant that broke my heart and has stayed with me more than the brutal revenge: the hanging of the only one who showed kindness on a tree, with a sign above his head. It was a reminder to me that in any quest for justice, we’d best keep an eye on the mirror to make sure we’re not becoming the same kind of monster we’ve been condemning.
I'm Charlotte O. I'm currently working with a non-profit organization in Taiwan where I teach, lead English Bible studies, write educational materials, train teachers, pose for pictures, and a bunch of other stuff too. I'm originally from Canada, spending significant amounts of time in all three westernmost provinces. I don't really know where to call home anymore, but that's ok, because I'm a citizen of heaven. I've learned that life overseas is not as exotic as people may think, but life with God is a daily adventure. I'm excited to join Bold Cup as a 'foreign correspondent.' I’ll try to keep my posts in English though.
original image taken from pinimg.com
Consider your teachers, preachers, authors, and public speakers, are they:
Old white men?
Heterosexual old white men?
Protestant heterosexual old white men?
Protestant evangelical heterosexual old white men?
It might be time to expand our horizons.
I’m not saying that protestant evangelical heterosexual white men have nothing of value to contribute, but that they are only one story in a vast library. I only want to point out that women and people of all races, creeds and orientations have important things to say because they have experienced life differently. It is important to recognize the uniqueness that everyone contributes to society.
More than anything else, I am preaching to myself here. I honestly thought that I was making a commendable effort to read and learn outside of my traditions. I thought I was taking in differing opinions and nuanced perspectives. I thought that I was being fair to those I disagreed with by actually reading the words they had written.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
To understand just how deep my bias was I decided to go through the books that I have read and record some statistics. I tallied how many books were written by men or white people and whether I disagreed with the premise of the book before I read it. What I found astounded me.
Do We Read Books Only to Experience Solidarity Within Our Own Tribe?
The variety of authors that I have read is abysmal. 97% of the books I’ve read were written by white people, 89% of them by men. Of these books, I read 54% of them because I knew that I agreed with the premise. Only 6% were read specifically to get a better understanding of a view that I disagreed with (the remainder were novels or nonfiction that I didn't know enough about to have an opinion beforehand). It appears my efforts to diversify my bookshelf had failed.
My bookshelf is filled with books by authors like Roger Olson, Scot McKnight, Brian McLaren, Greg Boyd and Philip Yancey. Their words have enriched me and their perspectives have positively shaped my Christian walk. It isn't my intention to discard the wisdom of these men simply because of their orientation, race or gender. In the same way, though, how much am I missing by not listening to homosexual, female or non-white voices? What am I missing by not listening to differing theological positions? I don’t want to discard the wisdom that can be found in diversity.
Sure, I have many books on my bookshelf by authors that I intend to read: Christopher Hitchens, Diana Butler Bass, Efrem Smith and RC Sproul, but, for some reason, they haven’t been read yet. It isn’t enough to intend to read them either, because that accomplishes nothing. I need to read what other people say and intentionally listen with an open, inquiring mind.
I urge you to look at your own bookshelf (or iTunes podcast subscriptions, or favorite blogs, or downloaded sermons, or...). It was eye-opening for me, even as I was counting the books I thought “wow, I am sure putting a lot into the ‘white’ and ‘male’ columns”! Not to mention the column I labelled ‘agree with’ seemed stacked compared to the ‘disagree with’ column. For someone who considered himself open to new ideas, this was a humbling, but necessary, experience.
Can we see how always learning from the same people might become a problem? I think we lose perspective on other views and disregard other experiences when we only listen to our own tradition (or culture or gender or...). To have a better view of humanity as a whole we need to better understand those in different tribes and we can only genuinely understand those tribes when we take the time to understand their stories.
In the past, fitting into a tribe was necessary for survival. As such, it was essential to espouse our own ideologies and undermine our neighbors. After all, our lives could very well depend on fitting in. While that is probably still true for many people around the world, we — as westerners — live in a time and place when that should be unnecessary. We find ourselves in a situation where it is easier than ever to get detailed information about other people's beliefs without the usual propaganda. We can understand other views without resorting to straw men arguments based on ideologies taken to the extreme. Why aren’t we taking the time to fully appreciate and learn from other cultures and beliefs?
Take the time to understand everyone’s story. We can all learn from listening to anyone if we give them the opportunity. Please don’t listen to their stories as told by our culture leaders because that is bound to produce discrepancies. Listen to the stories as told by the people who have actually lived them. Get to know what people actually believe, and better yet, get to know why people believe it.
Now, this doesn’t mean that we always have to agree with differing views. This isn’t a call to operate in some hyper post modern, relativistic and syncretistic wasteland. In fact, listening to a variety of people will probably frustrate and could even anger you (as it probably should sometimes), but, at other times, it will also enlighten and convict you. It may point out your own bias and you may grow on your path to absolute truth.
By branching out and consuming media, art and literature from different people groups we can become more empathetic to their opinions. We may learn that people's perspectives are driven by their personal experiences and that most times we don’t understand their perspectives because we haven’t lived their experiences. The contexts of people's lives can be so vastly different that it is normal not to understand the differences. To put it simply, we do not understand the nuances of other lives because we have not lived them and we cannot fully understand them until we authentically engage.
This happened to me with one of the 6% of books I’ve read simply to get a better understanding of a theology I disagree with: ‘Become a Better You’ by Joel Osteen. There was a time that I was cynical about Osteens message and, ultimately, his motives. Having read one of his books though, I will admit that my attitude has changed. I still don’t agree with much of what he says but I have a greater appreciation for his motives. I have come to respect the love that I believe he feels for people. I would have never changed my mind unless I took the time to actually read to what he has to say, instead of relying on his critics to inform me of his theology. I let him speak for himself.
I think honestly listening to dissenting opinions has that effect. In fact, all the books I have read by people I disagree with have had a positive effect on my opinion of their motives. As another example: I now have a greater respect for Calvinists commitment to God’s sovereignty even though I still fundamentally disagree with them on what that means exactly. I suspect that this is the case for most people. We should strive to better understand those we disagree with because it produces a more balanced perspective.
Do We Only Listen to People that Reaffirm Our Own Beliefs?
For many of us we listen to the same preachers every Sunday, the same radio evangelists while driving, and the same podcasts while exercising. We read the same books and magazines and socialize with the same types of people. I think it is our natural human tendency to seek things that affirm our established beliefs. To that end, we find people that look the same as us and espouse the same ideology. It’s a radically safe way to live because it means that our beliefs will never be challenged. It means that we don’t get to refine our own views and we can exclude those that may have important insight. This reminds me of a recent Canadian political event.
Much to the chagrin of critics everywhere, Canada’s Prime Minister appointed a gender balanced, racially diverse cabinet. Without even looking into whether the new cabinet ministers were qualified (hint: they are) armchair political scientists on the internet erupted into a chorus of “I don’t care about their gender and/or race as long as they are qualified”. On the surface this seems like the right way of thinking but it exposes a major problem: no one says that statement when the cabinet is made up of only old white dudes because we assume that old white guys think and act the same way we do, therefore they are qualified by default. They have no need to ‘prove’ themselves in the same way that women or minority groups do. I’m following a rabbit hole here but the point I want to make is this: Sometimes, simply being in a minority group qualifies people because their unique perspective, crafted by their life experiences is something that we are missing in our own theology, culture and lives.
I get it though. It’s hard to step out of our cultural comfort zones. It’s difficult to trust people that don’t look and act the same way as we do. In fact, our xenophobia might be a completely natural reaction. So, how can we authentically engage differing viewpoints when every fiber in our beings wants to tell someone they are wrong, exclude them from our society or discount their experiences?
I don’t really know the answer but my commitment is to branch out of my niche even more. I am going to interact with dissenting voices. I am not going to listen only to tear down their beliefs. I am going to try to listen with an open mind and empathize with their story. I won’t always agree but I will always consider the context. More often than not, I think I will find that my enemies aren’t really enemies at all.
What was the last differing opinion you engaged with and how did it change you?
I write about my story. The story about how I became a pro-life (womb to grave) liberal, confident arminian, reluctant charismatic, cautious progressive creationist, tentative conditionalist, utterly wretched without Christ, corporate complementarian (individually egalitarian), clueless pre-millenialist, and most importantly, a follower of Christ.
I am a blue collar tradesman, I don't have any seminary or official religious training. I am a victim of post-modern society probably due to my secular upbringing
I am married to a wonderful woman and have a son with another child on the way. They are the very best of me.
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