In my previous post, I addressed three lies that American Christians commonly believe about the state of the world, the way we discern the will of God and the way we share the gospel.
Here we consider three things that can be good and important but that can easily deceive us into thinking they are supreme—our family, our education and our privacy. What lies do American Christians believe about these three key areas of our lives?
1. Family comes first.
We try to do what is right for our family or with our family, but some decisions may require us to do what is right in spite of our family. When what is safe and comfortable for your family trumps what God has asked of you, you have put your family on a pedestal where only God belongs.
Since familial love really is so valuable it is hard to see and harder yet to confess when we’ve wandered into loving our family more than we love God. Do you hesitate to welcome a socially undesirable guest at your table? Does your family’s calendar of activities prevent you from giving time to helping the poor? If your decision making process begins with asking, “What will make my family happy?” and only secondarily asks, “Is this what God has asked of me?” you have disordered your concerns.
The love that you have for your family must be a love that is emanating from, and second to, your love for God. Communicate that peerless dedication through how you prioritize time together in the Scriptures, in prayer and in kingdom work.
See Genesis 22:1-18.See Matthew 10:37.
2. College is essential.
Christians have joined our culture in crowning education an unimpeachable king. We label lack of education as the cause for much that ails society and a high level of education as the key to “success.” It’s what we look to, instead of God, for provision and prosperity. It’s what allows us to “put off” until graduation so much that we are called to be and do now, from practicing integrity to pursuing our life’s mission.
Calculate the expense of college, both financially and spiritually. Almost everyone will leave college with financial debt, and many will leave with spiritual debt from four years of immorality accumulated in the name of newfound freedoms. College can serve as an excuse to actively put off church membership, missional living, disciple making or growing in spiritual maturity.
College is, in fact, a good thing, but the Christian family must always put it in the proper perspective. The Bible speaks much more about obedience and character than it ever does about being “learned.” If college is a tool for your family to further the kingdom of God, please go. But if education has become about your pride, justifying sin or doing “what’s next,” you may need to think a little more about “why” and “when” before deciding “where” right after high school. Formal education is good but not essential, and its worth does not exceed that of God’s calling.
See Isaiah 33:6.
See Acts 4:13.
3. My personal life is my business.
We guard personal privacy because we love to control how others perceive us. Our society prizes individualism, taking an adversarial view of oversight. My desire for privacy doesn’t necessarily even hinge on whether I have anything to hide. That’s not the point. The point is that it is “none of your business.”
When we operate in a lack of transparency and vulnerability, we endanger our own soul and the people closest to us. At its root it is a lack of humility. We don’t open up our lives to the perspectives of others because we aren’t willing to admit there may be something that needs addressing.
While there are many things that don’t need to be shared with everyone, there are very few things that don’t need to be shared with someone. Being vulnerable not only creates opportunities to grow and be sanctified but also gives others opportunities to point out issues in our lives that we can’t see. If you keep secret sin from coming to light, you grant it authority and power.
Practice confessing to a trusted community and give others permission to speak into your life about sins you may not see—a spouse, a mentor, a Home Group or a pastor. Certain levels of privacy can be healthy, but removing yourself from any opportunity for others to see into your life is self-destructive.
See Proverbs 28:13.See James 5:16.