It is dangerous – I know – to comment on a book, but I am over halfway through it, so I am willing to take the risk. The book is “Christians in the Age of Outrage – How to bring our best when the world is at its worst”. The author is Ed Stetzer, the dean of the School of Mission, Ministry, and Leadership at Wheaton College – and the holder of the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of the Church. You might find it interesting (at least, I do) that the other book I am reading at this time is “UPROAR – Calm Leadership in Anxious Times” (Peter Steinke), and that the book in the on-deck circle is “Restoring Civility – Lessons from the Master (Your Path to Rediscover Respect)” by Kent Hunter.
A few quotes should give you a pretty good view of what I am reading – I will let you form your own opinion on what he has to say.
Page 107: “Let’s get our first principles clearly on the table before we move to the more practical issues: The church stands no hope of engaging the age of outrage unless we root out the lie that the solution to sin lies anywhere outside the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is ‘the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5.10). Salvation is not coming on Air Force One. And Jesus will not come riding on a donkey or an elephant. Those who fail to see such things have been lost to the idolatry of the moment. It is only by clinging to Christ in the midst of the storm that we can resist the pull of idols (1 John 5.21).” Page 95: “While there are countless false gods in modern Western society, I see three key idols that Christians and non-Christians alike often embrace as solutions to the age of outrage. The idols of politics, identity, and personality most often tempt us to turn away from the life-giving wellspring of God’s truth and seek to save ourselves.”
Page 177: “Behind every expression of outrage in our age is real need, brokenness, and destruction that our message of reconciliation through Jesus is meant to address. The age of outrage may be defined by its anger and polarization, but beneath these self-defense mechanisms are real and valid underlying questions as people try to understand their origin, identity, purpose, and path of life. People have never been more engaged, busy, and connected than in this cultural moment. Yet this flurry of activity is a thinly veiled attempt to cover a crisis of identity, purpose, and belonging. The foreign land to which we have been called is in a crisis of lost identity, misplaced purpose, and chronic loneliness.”
“What we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ’Let light shine in the darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” (1 Corinthians 4.5-7)
Page 178: “Our culture has been fixated on the dual identity questions of ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Where do I belong?’ Identity politics and polarization are inevitable outcomes when people arrive at different answers. The community and mission of Christ are the alternatives this world needs. We find healing and restoration in our search for identity when we look to the person and work of Jesus. He gives us an identity that transcends the temporal and ultimately pointless political and cultural identities. … As people who have found their identity in Jesus, we need to fully engage with and participate in the lives of those still seeking their identity. This is how we bring God’s Kingdom to a broken world.” Page 183: “So much of the outrage against Christians can be traced to us taking our eyes off our identity as ambassadors of the King. When we use our authority or influence to advance some other mission, we are in danger of not completing our assignment well. Whether with good intentions or thinly veiled pride, if we advance any mission other than the one Christ gives, we forfeit the healing power of the gospel and risk fostering further disunity, division, disagreement, and ultimately outrage.”