Archives For rules

And don’t run around with girls that do. My wife and I were talking about this last night. There’s some wisdom to this. There’s enough objective science out there which shows that:

Excessive alcohol consumption is harmful

Smoking causes cancer

And so does smokeless tobacco.

But none of these rules is the Gospel. And the last line (“Don’t run around with girls who do”) marginalizes a whole people group who need to hear that Gospel–the “Good News.”

Right from the get go, people who do those things–smoking, drinking, chewing–get the distinct impression that they’re not welcome in our churches. The implicit message is conform to our expectations, and then (and only then) you can be one of us…

Instead of the other way around, where we say “Jesus loves you, and so do we. Come to him.” It’s not “Clean up, and come to Him.” Rather, come to Him, and He’ll clean you up.

Which brings me to millennials. They’re not good conformists. They’re the square pegs in round holes. They don’t experience God necessarily in the same way you and I do.

But who are we to say they can’t come?
I think this is why they are leaving the church in droves–and this, though the window dressing might be different–is the same reason people have been leaving the church since time immemorial:

They’re fed up with a Gospel of don’ts–don’t do this, don’t do that, Christians don’t [fill in the blank]. Instead of being known for the Big Someone (Jesus) that we’re for, we’re rather known for our rules (which we can’t even quite seem to keep ourselves), for what we’re against.
Hear me carefully here: what I’m not saying that the church is any more full of hypocrites than any other human institution–because it’s no more, or less, so than any other human institution. Hypocrites are like Mr. White in Quantum of Solace, who said, “We have people everywhere.”

What I am saying is that, because of that implicit message we peddle, the church is more open to the charge of hypocrisy. And millennials, like Holden Caulfield, are particularly adept at sniffing it out.

So the $64,000 question: How do keep millennials from leaving? We need to be authentic, get real, and be vulnerable. Admit it when we screw up. And stop lading people down with rules we can’t even keep ourselves.

Moreover, who says it’s our job to keep them from leaving? The Father let the Prodigal go… And maybe that’s what we need to do, too. Watch, pray, and look for the return. But for goodness’ sake we can’t hold onto those who don’t want to be there.

We can’t want something for another more than they themselves want it. Oh, we can, but you know the expression about leading a horse to water, right? The horse has to drink from the fount of its own accord.

So what do we do then? As the late Chuck Colson asked, “How now shall we live?”

With integrity, and with love.

Like Jesus. (A tall order, I know).

I have written here previously about being an introvert. This means that I am generally energized by solitary activities: reading, writing, etc.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t need community–I do. We all do. And I am very grateful for the community we have built together here, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

What it does mean is that staying engaged has a price. It also means I rub virtual shoulders with folks of all races, nationalities, creeds, genders.

It’s that last that has caused me some trouble, because you see, going into our marriage my wife and I–rightly or wrongly–decided together that one of our boundaries would be that we didn’t have friends of the opposite gender.

We did this simply to project our marriage. And the fact is no one is safe from temptation. That may sound antiquated–so be it.

As my platform has grown, she has seen me add quite a number of ladies as “friends” on Facebook, something which, while I’m not entirely comfortable with it, I take as the way things are now.

Social media–of which blogging is arguably a part–has shifted our paradigms a bit. And for my part, I have tried to honor the spirit of the “covenant” my wife and I made those many years ago, if not its exact letter.

The truth is I came to blogging simply because I love to write. I hope that shows. But I went into it blind–I had no social media strategy, no notion of “platform.” But it turns out that despite this, my words had resonated with folks on both sides of the gender aisle.

And for that I’m thankful.

While I do not believe I have been overly familiar, or too friendly, with the ladies out there, it’s possible, or perhaps my meaning has been misinterpreted. I apologize if this is the case.

I am entirely a one woman man, and my heart belongs to Lisa.

My ultimate point in sharing this is that I aim to be even more intentional going forward with my interactions. I fully realize that blogging is largely a female dominated medium, with 70-80 of bloggers being women. I will rub shoulders with some of you. I understand this, but I’m going to be much more careful about it.

In addition to a more careful approach, my wife and I are also very protective of our privacy. As this blog is of a very personal nature, any requests for contact information beyond an email address will be rebuffed as a matter of policy. It’s not personal, it’s just something I want to do to provide some measure of protection to my family. I hope you understand.

How about you? Do you have any social media rules of the road that you operate by?

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I’m going to lay my cards out now: while there are commandments–rules–in the Bible, that is not its primary purpose. It is primarily about the relationship we are privileged to have with the Creator of the universe. Thus, the rules exist to govern how we relate to him, and each other. And rule number one is love. In my estimation, God is not about rules for rules sake–else why do the scriptures tell us that “man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart?”
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