Today’s episode and the next where sparked by listener comments and questions from Brandon in Louisville, Kentucky.
Hey guys. I’m a casual listener. I might have gotten through the first 10 or 12 podcast so far. Great job producing so much content consistently. A couple things.
Early on Gregg mentioned a book he was looking forward to reading by some one who was an expert in near east history. At the time I tried to google the name but couldn’t find anything. Now I have forgotten it altogether.
So, the reason for my correspondence. I’ve often been frustrated with Christian books that call for total commitment…like we are just supposed to stand there and strain every muscle and tendon in our body thinking about Jesus. I haven’t read anything by Kyle Idleman nor did I know anything about him other than what you guys have mentioned in the podcast. I recently moved to Louisville KY, and haven’t had much luck finding a church in the first couple weeks. So I decided to give Southeast Christian (the local megachurch) a try. Guess who was preaching? It rhymes with smile shy dill man. Anyway, I was really touched by the sermon on humility and I wanted to know what you all think.
In a subsequent follow-up Brandon also wrote:
also, I’d reallly love to hear you all define “love” in relationship to God and man.
In this episode and the next John and Gregg address Brandon’s questions and observations, from Kyle Idleman’s message titled The Inside-Out Way of Jesus: Humbled To Be Exalted (week 2), May 25, 2014.
The notes John refers to taking from Idleman’s message are here.
John reflects on Brandon’s query about the “call for total commitment” by raising questions. First, What is the source of this message? Second, How consistently does one encounter this message in the Bible? In response John wagers that much of the call to “total commitment” is fear mongering: pushing Christians to be really sure that they’re on the “right track.”
Gregg’s hunch is that most Christians have no resources to conceive of Christianity as being other than about going to heaven or going to hell. He also wonders if, under the circumstances John describes, Christianity becomes an unhealthy preoccupation with “getting it right” instead of living out our current understandings and commitments, however “imperfect” they may be.
John raises Kyle Idlemans’ notion that we need to be humble in order to be exalted, noting Idleman neither clarifies what exaltation is or why we would want it. It sounds to John like Idleman assumes this is something all Christians want without defining what is–Christians just need to humble themselves so they can “have the goodies”. Gregg sees the focus of exaltation as another instance of Christianity equated with rewards (especially the reward of heaven).
John and Gregg also discuss Idleman’s assertion that being a Christian means not only being counter-cultural but counter-intuitive, and doing so in ways that just don’t feel right. Gregg’s view is: Maybe yes, but maybe no. Because if we always proceed with what is “counter-intuitive and feels wrong” then Christianity is made out to be contrary to our instincts, feelings and perceptions are always misguided and that everything Christian is counter to what appears to us to be natural and human. Instead, Gregg suggests that we can develop and attunement to truth not only intellectually but also through our feelings.
From this John questions whether Jesus came in order to impart good principles or to make a point within the current context that drives towards a larger point / goal? Gregg emphasizes, on the one hand, that our guiding directive as Christians is to love God entirely, love myself rightly and love my neighbour likewise. Yet on the other hand, as John states, these right ways of relating are directed toward the furtherance of the kingdom of God.