We live in a culture that no longer sees its sinfulness but is saturated by relativism and tolerance. It wasn’t that long ago that you would attend a sporting event, and someone had a John 3:16 sign they would hold up for the camera. It wasn’t long ago that nearly every child in America knew one verse by heart, John 3:16. Matthew 7:1 has replaced John 3:16 in our nation’s life and practice, particularly in personal and social media conversations. Judgment is out tolerance and love are in.
If “Judge not lest ye be judged” was an issue in the 20th century than it has become a monster in the 21st century.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains “there are many who say that ‘judge not’ must be taken simply and literally as it is, and as meaning that the truly Christian man should never express an opinion about others. They must do no judging whatsoever, that we must be easy, indulgent and tolerant, and allow almost anything for peace and quiet and especially unity …they say, what is needed today is unity and fellowship.”
What Christ is proclaiming in his sermon is not the absence of conviction for the sake of unity.
Recently I read a book by Sherry Turkle entitled Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age. Dr. Turkle said several things that made me think about the beauties and perils of technology. One of my favorite quotes by her is “If you don’t teach your kids to alone they will only know how to be lonely.”
Turkle in expanding on the idea of loneliness she said something so profound about the difference between loneliness and solitude.
Paul Tillich has a beautiful formulation: “Language . . . has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.” Loneliness is painful, emotionally and even physically, born from a “want of intimacy” when we need it most, in early childhood. Solitude— the capacity to be contentedly and constructively alone— is built from successful human connection at just that time. But if we don’t have experience with solitude— and this is often the case today— we start to equate loneliness and solitude. This reflects the impoverishment of our experience. If we don’t know the satisfactions of solitude, we only know the panic of loneliness.
Indeed, research shows that adolescents experience solitude as downtime that can feel bad in the short run. But in the long run it facilitates healthy development. Without solitude, in days and nights of continual connection, we may experience those “moments of more” but lives of less.
One of the things I have come to discover in reading old books is there is nothing new under the sun. That when you take the time to discover what people have said in centuries past you realize how profound they really are. You see how relevant old things are. They help us see what is good, true and beautiful because it has always been so. The relevant of today is fickle and given to fads and trends. What was relevant centuries ago is in many ways more instructive for us as leaders. Do Kanye and Kim define relevance to our culture? I would argue no. They are the trendsetters perhaps but relevance true relevance goes deeper.
I’ll illustrate it with two things that have come across my path they last few weeks one is a picture the other a poem.
Everyone no matter where you come from, how much you make or where you live, you have the same thing in common, we all have twenty-four hours in each day. No more no less. The difference comes in where you chose to invest those 1440 minutes. There are so many things that take up our time that are important and much needed. If we were all honest, there are many things that we invest our precious moments on that are a complete waste of time.
Over the past few years, I have done several funerals what I find fascinating is how people invested their lives. There are some who worked their whole lives others invested in hobbies, and still others family was everything. Every time I do a funeral or attend one I ask myself if I am investing my life in what matters most. When talking with people at the end of their lives, I often ask what they regret most; some have no regrets. Of those who have regrets, almost all of them is not spending enough time with family. I think our generation does spend more time with family, but often I find in talking with parents it’s not concentrated devoted time. It’s on the go time; it’s hurried time. There is nothing wrong with on the go time it’s still time, but I find that unhurried time is where life happened, and big questions get asked. It’s in the cracks of near boredom that we dig deep and find the space to discuss what matters most.
If you are a parent and are looking to invest your time where it matters most to get the most bang for your buck, I would urge you to consider the three things I have listed below. These things make a huge difference quickly but more importantly they make a huge difference in the long run. I would like to offer a disclaimer that I am working on these myself. Our family does dinner almost every night mostly because of my amazing wife. We just started doing family worship and we aren’t as consistent as I would like. As far as the cell phone goes, I am trying to disconnect but it’s not easy.
Do you want to be a better parent overnight?
I love reading books. When I don’t know how to do something or I don’t understand something the first thought that usually comes to me is “I’ll bet there is a great book out there that would help me understand this.” And there usually is. The challenge we now have is not is there a book on a given topic, and the challenge is finding good books on a given topic. Forbes Magazine says “there are there are somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books published every year in the US alone, depending on which stats you believe. Many of those – perhaps as many as half or even more – are self-published. On average, they sell less than 250 copies each.” So needless to say finding a good book is easier said than done.
I understand that books are written with three aims in mind. The first is be helpful and the second appeal to your audience and beyond, third sell more than 250 copies. Of all the books I have read, I have never come across many books that fit the four books below that I think need to be written. I think they need to be written because they would be helpful, but I don’t think they would sell more than 250 copies.
3 Books that Need To Be Written That No One Would Buy
- Sometimes Healthy Things Die. “Why Faithfulness matters more Fruitfulness” – One of the things I used to say all the time is “Healthy things grow” While that may be true I think it oversimplifies what is true in the statement. Healthy things do grow, and I would say this because my goal wasn’t health but growth. Is there anything wrong with more people, more produces more stuff? Not necessarily. I do think that statement for me was geared around fruitfulness more than it should have been. In the scriptures, we see many examples of how farming works. We plant we water God makes it grow. Faithfulness is something we can do by God’s grace. Fruitfulness is something God does for us, through us and sometimes despite us. I want they leaders I am pouring my life into to avoid that mistake and find their worth in being faithful and leave the fruitfulness up to God.