Compassion and Courage in Chaotic Times : Os Guinness
How can we best invite people to explore the deep questions of life, meaning, and faith? In this week’s conversation on FrontStage BackStage, host Jason Daye is joined by scholar, author, and Christ-follower, Os Guinness, as they explore this question, and look at what it takes to share the love, the hope, and the truth of Jesus in today’s ever-changing world.
Looking to dig more deeply into this topic and conversation? Every week we go the extra mile and create a free toolkit so you and your ministry team can dive deeper into the topic that is discussed. Find your Weekly Toolkit below… Love well, Live well, Lead well!
- Video links to this week’s episode – easily share with the ministry leaders in your church
- Audio links to this week’s episode – easily share with the ministry leaders in your church
- Additional resource links from this week’s conversation – so you and your team can easily find what is mentioned or referenced
- Ministry Leaders Growth Guide – key insights and concepts from this week’s conversation as well as engaging questions for you and your team to consider and process
- Full-text transcript of this week’s episode – review something you heard, pass along snippets, post tweets, create presentations to share, or use in whatever way you find most helpful in developing your ministry leaders
- Shareable Social Graphics – Feel free to post them on your church social accounts, your personal accounts, or use them as graphics in your communications
Share the video with your ministry leaders >> YouTube
Share the audio podcast with your ministry leaders…
- This week’s episode on Apple Podcasts
- This week’s episode on Spotify
- This week’s episode on Google Podcasts
Additional Resource Links
The Great Quest by Os Guinness – In this book, Os invites us to explore the thinking person’s journey toward faith and meaning
The Call by Os Guinness – In this classic, Os invites the reader to dive into the depths of understanding God’s calling on each individual life
The Magna Carta of Humanity by Os Guinness – In this book, Os examines the nature of revolutionary faith, contrasting between secular revolutions such as the French Revolution and the faith-led revolution of ancient Israel.
Fool’s Talk by Os Guinness – In this book, Os helps the reader learn to make a convincing case for the gospel to people who are not interested in it
Ministry Leaders Growth Guide
Key Insights and Concepts
- The central issue of our time is faithfulness
- Pastors have the great privilege of standing between God and His people, sharing His Word, week after week
- We find ourselves in a transitional moment in the course of a civilization which could either lead to renewal or go on to decline
- Americans are increasingly other-directed, meaning they latch on to what the majority is embracing
- Today humanity has to think through the big questions of life and the alternatives to the Gospel are literally bankrupt
- We must reach out to people now with confidence and courage
- Pastors are not to be preparing their people for a great battle, as if we hate those outside. No, we love those who are far from God. Pastors must prepare their people for faithfulness.
- The culture in many ways, may be slipping away from us, but the gospel is the best news ever
- Politics is very important, but it’s downstream from many of the more important institutions, most especially our faith
- We cannot make an idol out of political causes, or any other causes, but instead remain rooted in the Gospel
- We must think Christianly and connect the dots and understand how everything links with our faith
- As pastors, we need to disciple people to see how their faith links into and impacts all of the disparate issues of our time
- Pastors need a sense of the calling of everyone, everywhere, in everything
- When pastors preach, they should consciously contrast what scripture is saying with what the world is saying, helping their people understand how the Word applies to the world in which they live
- Preaching should create a tension between the counter-culture of the Gospel and the world in which we live
- Those who follow the call of God, are a counter-culture
- We must engage our culture with civility, our Lord calls us to love our enemies
- We approach others with civility, but with a choice. We offer the Gospel as an alternative and invite people to make a choice.
- When engaging with others we lead with love and love always begins with listening. We need to listen to their stories, what drives them? Where are they coming from?
- Contrast is the mother of clarity: If you help people understand the real consequences of what they are choosing, they are more open to rethinking their choices
- Although we are called to be salt and light, we have become culturally uninfluential, and that scandal is above all, a scandal of discipleship
- God is greater than all. God can be trusted in every situation. We must have faith in God, have no fear. Pastors, above all, can convey this courageous confidence in the Lord to their people.
- Pastors are the key calling in the crisis of the Church in our time
Questions for Reflection
- Do I agree that the central issue for our time is faithfulness? Why or why not?
- How is my faithfulness being challenged as a pastor? How is the faithfulness of our people being challenged?
- Am I seeing people wrestling with bigger questions about life, meaning, and purpose? As a church, how are we speaking into the questions they are exploring?
- Are we reaching out to our community with confidence and courage?
- Jesus said we are to love our enemies, those who disagree with us, think differently from us, etc. Who would you consider your enemies? How am I showing love to them? How is our church showing love to them?
- Am I making an idol out of politics, or any other area of life? Where is my primary focus?
- What does it mean to think “Christianly”?
- How would I describe my sense of calling?
- When I preach, how am I relating God’s Word to what is happening in the world around us? Am I inviting people into the tension of faith?
- How are we discipling people to connect the dots from the issues of our times to our faith?
- How can we more effectively contrast the power of the gospel with the bankrupt alternatives that the world offers?
- How are we equipping our people to be salt and light in our community?
How can we best invite people to explore the deep questions of life, meaning, and faith?
In this conversation, I’m joined by scholar, author, and Christ-follower, Os Guinness, as we dig into this question, and look at what it takes to share the love, the hope, and the truth of Jesus today. Are you ready? Let’s go.
Hello, friends, and welcome to FrontStage BackStage. I’m your host, Jason Daye. And every single week we sit down and have an important conversation to help equip and encourage pastors, just like you, to embrace healthy, sustainable, well-balanced leadership in both life and ministry. If you’re joining us on YouTube, we encourage you to give us a like, and comment below and let us know your name and the church that you represent. We love getting to know you better and praying for your church and your ministry. And if you’re on YouTube, or on your favorite podcast platform, be sure to subscribe, so you do not miss out on any of these incredible conversations. And today is going to be another amazing conversation. I’m very excited to be joined by Os Guinness. Os, as you probably very familiar with, has written over 30 books. He has traveled the world, has spoken and shared, and really just helps us get a grasp and read the world around us so that we can more fully alive in the life that God has called us to live in. So at this time, we welcome Os to the show… so Os, welcome, brother.
Thank you, Jason, what a privilege to be with you.
Yes, it’s always a joy to be with you. I’ve had the opportunity to interview you before and spend some time with you. And I’ve shared, and I’m sure there are many people, that you had a profound impact on my life, specifically through your book, The Call, that had such an impact. And I honestly don’t think I’d be where I am today had not been for me picking that book up, prompted by the Holy Spirit, it was a gift to me. And sitting in a cabin up in the mountains for three days seeking God and reading that book. And so I appreciate it… that’s probably the the book I give away the most and recommend the most, recommend the most aside from Scripture. So I certainly appreciate that. But you’ve added another great book. And this is The Great Quest, actually, that’s what it’s entitled, invitation to an examined life and a sure path to meaning. And as I received this book and began to read through it, again, I was encouraged and excited. And I’m really looking forward to hearing from you and sharing your wisdom and your heart, your experience with our listeners in our audience. So thank you for making the time to be with us us.
My privilege… that’s most encouraging.
Excellent brother. Now, you have witnessed a lot in your life, having lived on three major continents, whether addressing the British House of Commons or the US Congress, drafting the Charter for Religious Freedom, writing and editing as I mentioned, over 30 books, your work at the Oxford Centre, we could go on and on and on about the incredible experiences that you’ve had. But you’ve always sort of helped us navigate this gap, Os, between kind of deep scholarly thinking and just everyday life. And sometimes that chasm seems huge and hard to bridge, but you’ve done a great job of helping bring these worlds together in so many ways, really often focusing on how the advancements of modern society relate to some of the deepest questions we have around faith. And we certainly appreciate that. You’ve always invited people to examine life more deeply, to really dig in and to engage… and not to just float by, and perhaps miss out on the depth and beauty of all that life has, specifically in Christ. And so, Os, I would love to hear from you, as you look across the years of your life, as you observe what the world is like today, I’m curious, how are people today responding to seriously wrestling with the deepest questions of life… the meaning of life?
Well, let me say what a privilege it is to be on with pastors because I think the central issue of our time is faithfulness. And there’s no one like the pastor with that great privilege of standing between the Lord and His people, Sunday by Sunday in bringing the Word. So I’m enormously appreciative of pastors. And yet, with the chaos politically in the west today, I find many pastors are very discouraged. But I think actually that calling is the critical one. In the time we’re in now, this, this little book, it’s a book for seekers who want to think through the meaning of life. So I hope it will really speak to seekers. But it’s also for Christians who want to understand how thinking people do move through the journey to faith. Now, I don’t address it in the book, but obviously, we’re in a civilizational moment for the West, and for America, a transitional moment in the course of a civilization which could either lead to renewal or go on to decline, because both the West and America have rejected the faith that made them. And in America’s case not only rejected the faith that made it, but rejected the revolution that made it, and turned to another revolution. So we’re at an extraordinary time where as I said, faith, and faithfulness is the issue. Now, I’ve always been concerned to try and make sense of the gospel to those outside the church, and make sense of the world to fellow believers so we can negotiate life and navigate life with intelligence and with faithfulness. Well, this book is a simple one for seekers.
Yeah, that’s excellent. Now, Os, do you feel that people today are seeking these deeper questions as much as maybe generations in the past? Are they more apathetic? Are they distracted? You know, how would you say people are responding to these deep questions today?
Yes, and no, Jason, you know, on the one hand, we have so much to live with, in the prosperous West, that we don’t bother to think about what it means to live for, and a purpose to life. And then there’s another level: you see the rising tide of religious nones. I call it the Dover Beach syndrome of our generation, the rising tide of those with a receding faith. In other words, many Americans are other-directed. They listen and follow what other people are into. 51%, 75%, then they’re interested. Well, if people are leaving the faith, they’re not interested. But in fact, you can see many of the alternatives to the faith today are very evidently bankrupt. And we’re in an extraordinary moment for humanity with the decline of the West, the rise of totalitarian China, the specter of singularity. In other words, humanity has to think through the big, big questions and the alternatives to the Gospel are literally bankrupt. So while they’re a decade, say, I’m a child of the 60s, you had to think back to square one, or you were really challenged. And I love that. The 70s didn’t think that much, nor the 80s. But there are signs of some of the younger generation are actually more like the 60s, and beginning to think again. So it’s a good moment. And we need to reach out to people with confidence. The culture in many ways, may be slipping away from us, but the gospel is the best news ever.
Yes, so very true. You know, it seems that many people are passionate today about specific causes. And we see this a lot, everywhere we look. And they almost find meaning in these larger causes that they can somewhat dedicate their life to. But it seems that they’re struggling with kind of finding the meaning of life itself. You know, in other words, they’re unsure how to define their lives apart from a cause to somehow champion. What, Os, do you think does this say about our understanding of the true meaning of life?
Well, you know, the old saying, ‘the first thing to say about politics is that politics is not the first thing.’ It’s very important, but it’s downstream from many of the important institutions like the family and the school and so on, and above all from faith. So we’ve got to get our priorities right, not make an idol say a political causes. And that’s only one of the many idols we have in America today. So we’ve got to strip away the idols and make people really think through what’s the meaning of life. Now the trouble is a lot of Americans, a lot of Westerners, don’t connect the dots. They look at this issue or that issue and split them all up. Whereas if you’re thinking Christianly, they’re all part of our understanding under the Lord. And we need to connect the dots both in terms of our own priorities, but also in terms of understanding what’s going wrong in America. So for example, I was at a dinner in Washington not long ago, and I described it to my wife afterwards, when I went home, as all trench warfare. Great people, passion, hand-to-hand fighting, but no understanding of the big picture, and how our faith links everything together. In other words, a real problem in thinking Christianly and that’s what pastors can really encourage people to do.
Yeah, Os, how would you recommend a pastor begin to, for their own life, and then begin to as their discipling others, begin to link some of those dots? You know, what is the best way to go about doing that?
Well, two things practically. I remember a pastor, my experience, I won’t mentioned him, who saw the be all and end all of his ministry to produce more ministers, and particularly people who are good and working with young people. And the day he understood calling, that it was everyone everywhere, in everything.. and the lay people in church, in business, in politics, in teaching, so on and so on, with just as important as people going into the ministry. Now, the trouble was, he wasn’t in touch with lay people. He knew all about, say, marriage problems, because he heard heartaches in his office each week. So he had to make up a way of going out. And every year he’d go down to Capitol Hill, or K Street, our business area in DC, and really talk to people in that world to discover what made them tick, and what the problems they’re facing. So that’s one thing. Pastors need a sense of the calling of everyone, everywhere, in everything. But another practical thing, you know, the Puritans, about a quarter of every sermon was application. I’ve heard many, many American sermons. Many of them are wonderful, solid biblically, they just float away into the atmosphere, they’re not applied, like the Puritans would. And I think we’ve got to recognize, pastors preach the Word, but then we the lay people, I’m a layperson, we go out into the world. And there should be a tension between the Word and the world. And when pastors preach wonderful biblical material, they should consciously put in some point, now we’re saying this, but the world will say that, in other words, create the tension. One of the root meanings of faith is the word tension. So we need to create that tension so that lay people take on the world, as our Lord says ‘in it, but not of it.’ So I think practically, pastors need to recover a sense of calling and know how to have a point in the sermon, where the point of the sermon is applied practically, to lay people going out into the world.
Yeah, I love that. That’s super helpful. And as we kind of look at the divisiveness we have in our society, in our culture now. It’s no secret. We see it every day. Different divisive topics that come up and just tend to push people away. One of the things that you’ve always shared, you speak of in this book, as well as this idea of, you know, the individual person, personally seeking meaning, versus the idea of a community, helping people seek the meaning of life together. Can you talk to us a little bit about the individualized, you know, moment in people’s lives versus kind of this communal understanding of how we journey into faith?
Well, you know, in this book, I’ve stressed the word it’s overused in many ways today, existential because people searching for the meaning of life, know that their existence, that practical, daily, moment-by-moment existence, (that’s the meaning of existential,) depends on their finding faith and the meaning of life. In other words, I go out of my way to say this book is not a two-hour read with an argument that you either accept or reject at the end. No. It’s a book you read as a guide to you going out in the journey of your life and searching yourself for meaning on which you got to stick everything at the end. So I keep stressing the individual responsibility, the existential responsibility, the stakes, that people really need to realize, because, you know, the saying that America has moved from being inner-directed. The Puritans were as if they’d swallowed gyroscopes, through calling their north, south, east and west, right, wrong, true false, their bearings were internal. Whereas modern Americans are, is as if they swallowed Gallup polls. What do 51% now believe? I better follow it, if I want to be on the right side of history and not the wrong side of history. And you know, the old saying, forgive the language, ‘Damn the polls, Think for yourself.’ And so the stress, I’m certainly not calling just individuals alone. But individuals have to take that responsibility to think through the meaning of life, and then stand for it, and not to keep up with the Joneses or go with the crowds.
Yeah, that’s great. And as you talk about kind of taking that individual responsibility, you’ve also touched on this idea that we’re not left to it on our own, right? That there are others who have traveled before us or others who are traveling alongside of us. So speak to us a little bit about not not necessarily people just wanting to jump on with whatever side seems to be winning at the moment. But what does this idea of individual responsibility coupled with a sense of community and how the church community can help people as they’re investigating and exploring these deeper questions?
Well, Jason, as you know, the Call began with Abraham. And as our Jewish friends pointed out, the first word of Abraham’s call in Genesis 12, is negative: leave, or break. He’s called to leave his country, culture and kin. The three forces that are most determinative of who we are –country, culture, and kin– and he’s called to leave them. In other words, from Abraham, and then the Exodus, right through to our Lord, those who follow the call of God, are a counter-culture, in the world, but not of the world, we’re the City of God, not the city of man. Now change the whole discussion. I mentioned a civilizational moment. All those who describe the rise and fall of civilization say that at a civilizational moment, what is key is what they call the creative minority. Now, that’s us, in the West. The Christian faith, made the West, nothing else. The Christian faith made the West and the West has rejected the Christian faith. So the strength and the weakness of the West at the moment, depends on the strength and weakness of the Church, whose faith made the West… the creative minority. So we lament, we’ve lost the consensus through our own faithfulness. We’ve lost the wider consensus, much of the culture now is –we’re swimming upstream– it’s against us. But who cares about that? What matters is faithfulness. We’re a countercultural creative minority. And pastors need to prepare their people not for a grand battle, so we hate those outside. No, we love our enemies. But we’re a creative minority. And our faithfulness is key to the outcome of the struggle.
Yeah, that’s beautiful. So what are some of the greatest opportunities that we have, thinking of, you know, a local church in a local community? What are some of the greatest opportunities we have today, when it comes to helping people embrace Christ?
Well, above all, the Gospel itself, because the need, the hunger for faith and meaning and purpose, is palpable, and there’s no answer, like the Gospel itself. But let me think at a very different level for a moment, I often meet people going around this country who say, ‘Well, you know, things are dark, and my motto and my precedent is the Early Church. They were faithful under the Caesars… couldn’t do much and we can’t do much.’ That’s the wrong precedent. The Early Church had very little room to move politically, they were under an imperial dictatorship. But America, the American experiment in freedom is principally built on the ordered freedom that came from the book of Exodus, rediscovered in the Reformation. And one of the key ideas in Exodus is every Jew responsible for every Jew, the reciprocal responsibility of everyone, for everyone, in a free society like that… love your neighbor, as yourself. Now translate that: we the people. Every American is responsible for every American and the American Republic. And if evangelicals and Christians cop out, just keep their heads down, and do nothing wherever they live, it’s a scandal. It’s a failure of discipleship and it’s a failure of citizenship. So we’ve got to seize those opportunities, wherever our callings lead us. Some will be teachers. Some will be doctors and nurses, some will be computer, who knows. But wherever the spheres of our callings take us and pastors must make people aware of the spheres in which their people are going out Monday to Friday. So they’re really faithful in those spheres as salt and light. Finish with this thought on that Jason. You know, take our friends, the Jews, they’re 2% of America, and yet, they punch well above their weight, culturally, financially, intellectually, all sorts of ways, incredible power to them. We are still the hugest majority in the country, less than we were but still bigger than anyone else. And yet, although we’re called to be salt and light, we are culturally uninfluential. And that scandal is above all, a scandal of discipleship.
So, as we look at that, and the inability that we’ve had to really embrace and influence culture, and we reflect on the Church herself, I spoke a bit about divisiveness. There’s divisiveness within the Church, obviously, people, you know, coming to different conclusions on a variety of things. How do we in our day, help bring the Church together in unity so that we can have a greater impact and greater influence, when there are so many questions kind of within as to where we are, where we stand?
Well, let me answer in two ways, Jason. One, rather briefly, and the other, I think, the more important one today. If we are in Christ, and Jesus is Lord, no secondary thing at all, should divide us. The tragedy of the Civil War, is that it became more determinative than the gospel and the Lordship of Jesus, and the churches were desperately divided. But let me address the division, because there’s a tendency in a lot of the churches today to say we must pursue civility, and the common good, or as one thinker puts it, curb the culture wars, but that’s actually partly wrong. You remember in Jeremiah twice, he says, he attacks those who say, ‘Peace, peace, when there is no peace.’ In other words, between the Lord Yahweh and Baal, for Elijah, it was a straight choice, either the Lord or Baal. And we’ve got similar choices today. In other words we should ask, what’s the cause of the division? So you can say it’s partly the social media, you can say it’s partly the Coastals against the Heartlanders or the Populists over against the Globalists, all sorts of answers are given. But I say to you, the deepest division is between those who understand America and freedom from the perspective of the roots of the American Revolution, which as I said, through the Reformation, were biblical. Many Americans don’t realize that the Torah, Exodus, covenant is behind the notion of constitution. Consent of the government comes from Exodus. Separation of powers comes from the Old Testament, you could go on and on. So the difference between those who understand America from the basis of the American Revolution and those who understand it from the basis of ideas coming from the French Revolution, critical race theory, and all the sexual revolution comes from the French Revolution, and it’s deadly. So Jason, when I was first a Christian in my 20s the big challenge was liberal theology… revisionism. By and large, almost completely, evangelicals stood firm. Protestant mainline gave in and they were sidelined, they compromised through liberal theology and two centuries of revisionism. Evangelicals stood firm. But now, with the cultural Marxist revolution, with the sexual revolution, all these various things, evangelicals have capitulated. And I meet pastors who take, say they hear the word ‘justice,’ leap to their feet and salute, not realizing that the justice that they heard, comes out of a cultural Marxist or radical left background, is nothing to do with the justice of the Scripture, and the Hebrew prophets. In other words, they drunk the Kool Aid. And of course, many pastors, it’s like walking across a minefield. They’re afraid to say anything, because the left, this, or the right, that, and so on. So we’ve got to understand where these crazy divisions have come from. That’s in my book, The Magna Carta of Humanity. But there’s a time to say, Peace, peace, when we should challenge the notion of peace, because there’s no peace between the radical left and the way of Scripture.
Yeah, that’s interesting as we’re kind of processing through this, as a people, as a people of God, specifically, and trying to relate the compassion and love of Christ. And the opportunity to engage in dialogue with people who are far from God, versus shutting down those dialogues. So how would you speak into that? This idea that we are, you know, trying to live out the mission of Christ? And so how do we engage in civil discourse with people who come from a variety of, as you’ve said, a mixture of backgrounds, you know, we kind of grab things from here and there and kind of muddle it all together. So how do we encourage dialogue, encourage people to to really kind of dig in and into these deeper questions of life? Considering all that?
Well, in three words, civility, with choice. In other words, civility? Absolutely. Our Lord calls us to love our enemies. We have the highest view of human worth. Everyone made in the image of God. We have the highest view of truth, we’re not postmodernists who’ve abandoned truth for power. And we have the highest view of words, words created the world. Words can destroy the world. So in a day of social media and Twitter and all this stuff and say, former President Trump’s use of Twitter, no, no, this is evil speech. We have a high view of human dignity, truth, words. And so we love our enemies, we talk to everyone with love. But there’s a challenge to choice. Just as Elijah had 850 false prophets against him. The whole establishment, the royal family, and the people sitting on the fence. He called them to choose. If Baal is God, follow Baal. And we must do the same today, if critical race theory is the way of justice, follow it. If atheism, secularism provides a better meaning to life, than the gospel, follow it. Now civility, but always with choice. And that means both compassion, but also a grasp of apologetics or advocacy, knowing how to speak to people who really differ very radically from us. That’s my book, Fool’s Talk, is all about that. But we’re really challenged to do it.
Yeah, I think it’s important, especially that it almost seems like the challenge to engage in conversation with people today where there can be some sort of hearing the other person, right, and a sense of trying to understand it just seems to be missing in so much discourse today. There doesn’t seem to be this idea that we’re, we’re in conversation, right? But you talk about this idea of pointing to something versus trying to prove something. How does that relate to how we engage in discourse today?
Well, that’s for people who are really seeking and on the road. But when we’re talking to people, and you’re talking about people who really strongly disagree with us, they’re not open. But love means always beginning by listening. And that’s practical. We ask questions in order to listen… where are they coming from? Where’s what Jesus calls the treasure of their heart? What makes them really tick? They may not even be aware of it themselves. So we love them enough to ask them about their story and how they feel about this and the other, basically, who they are. Only then do we try and speak to them? And what we’re after is, are they open? And only minority are. Or are they closed, which the majority are. Now the challenge is it’s easy to speak to those who are open. The gospel is good news to people in a bad situation, they’re open. But the real challenge is those who don’t know they’re in a bad situation, and they’re thoroughly closed. And with them, in the Scripture, you have to raise questions to push them out. And it’s only when they, as C.S. Lewis says, push them out to ‘the absolute ruddy end,’ that’s what Elijah did to the prophets of Baal. Francis Schaeffer used to say push them to the logic of their presuppositions. In other words, when they see the consequences of what they’re choosing, they may rethink. The prodigal son would never have turned around one day out of home. He had all his father’s money, and he was free. When he hit the pigsty, the money had run out, and he realized what it was to be dependent only on himself, he ran home. And that’s the way we should speak to people: find out where they are. And if they’re closed, push them out further, knowing that when their heads hit the wall, reality, they turn around. And you remember the word repentance, not in Greek, ‘metanoia’ in Greek is just an about turn of heart and mind and spirit, very profound. But in Hebrew, I love this… ‘teshuva,’ the word for repentance, adds the meaning of homecoming. When people turn around, they’re coming home to truth and above all, to the Lord.
That’s beautiful. That’s beautiful, Os. What are some of the key questions you think that you know, thinking as a pastor, as a ministry leader, as a Christ-follower, who’s engaging in some of these conversations? And like you said, kind of pressing out these questions. What are some of the key questions that people are wrestling with today that we can begin to engage in dialogue? Are there some that you would recommend people can consider as they’re going through their daily lives?
Well, they truly are often as diverse as the people we talk to. So I’m generalizing. Right? I often talk about freedom. You know, since the killing of George Floyd, much of the public discussion has been on justice. But whatever the thing is, you can see that I have a little principle and apologetics: contrast is the mother of clarity. When people see the difference the gospel makes and its difference from all the other possible answers they go, ‘wow.’ So Buddhism might lead there, and Hinduism here, and secularism, wherever, and suddenly you realize the Gospel is so different, how incredible. And it leads believers to worship and non-believers to be attracted to the gospel. So, you know, depends what the person is into. But currently, if you make a huge generalization, justice is the main thing. But as I said earlier, we got to say, who’s justice? Are we talking about the radical left, or the Hebrew prophets and the biblical view of justice? Because they’re quite different, and they lead in different directions?
Yeah, that’s helpful. And and I love what you say in regard to, you know, finding, as you said, we ask questions, so we can learn where people are coming from what they are, what they’re wrestling with, currently, what are the questions that they are, you know, exploring at the time? And then trying to see, how do we speak into those questions with that contrast of the gospel, but, Os, that means we have to have a deep understanding of the gospel, of Scripture. And as you mentioned earlier, that’s one of the challenges, I think you might have even said scandals is, you know, discipleship, discipling people helping people to understand. So just as we’re kind of wrapping up here, any final thoughts that you’d like to share with pastors in regard to thinking through, you know, your latest book, The Great Quest, inviting seekers to explore these deeper questions? What can pastors begin to do even this coming week? As they think through their responsibility? You know, how God has entrusted them with the gospel, in their unique context, their unique setting? What can they begin to do when it comes to this idea of engaging in these conversations and discipling people?
Well, Jason, this may not sound very practical as you’re asking me. But I think a big amount of the challenge in America is a matter of courage and confidence. We’ve lost the consensus, but many Christians are insecure, demoralized, on the backfoot, being told we’re on the wrong side of history, somewhat fearful. And part of the challenge is this total lack of courage and faith. Now, I remember well, and I got this from my parents, I grew up with 10 years of the World War II in China, with war, violence, death, we were in a famine in which 5 million died in three months, I was a boy in the Chinese Revolution and the beginning of the reign of terror. But in all those extraordinary situations, far, far worse than anything we’ve seen today, even in Ukraine, I never saw my parents waver once in terms of their faith in the Lord. And that’s where I was taught the truth. God is greater than all. God can be trusted in every situation. Have faith in God, have no fear. And I think our pastors above all, can convey to the people that courageous confidence in the Lord. You know, if you look at civilization, there are two in the course of all the world civilizations that are especially relevant to us. One is the period of the collapse of Jerusalem, and the great prophet Isaiah and Jeremiah. The other is the period of the collapse of Rome, and the great Christian prophet and theologian, St. Augustine, City of God, not the city of man, and so on. But you can see, you know, in Isaiah’s time, the people were panicking. The game of the gods, the winner had the winning god, the loser, had a defeated god. So the Lord had saved them from Pharaoh, but he couldn’t beat Nebuchadnezzar. The geopolitical crisis was a theological crisis. Now, Isaiah says, ‘not a moment of it. The Lord is punishing us and using Babylon. And the Lord will deliver us using Persia. And he’s sovereign above all the chaos of this geopolitical crisis.’ And of course, the same is what you see in Augustine. And we need to develop that courage, that confidence, beginning with the preaching of the word Sunday, by Sunday, by the pastors of America and the West.
Yeah, I love that, Os. It’s always a pleasure to get to spend some time with you. And I certainly appreciate you making time to be with us. I want to encourage people to check out your latest book, The Great Quest, absolutely a great read and I think, really a great tool for pastors, ministry leaders, fellow Christ-followers to use with their friends, you know, invite their friends to dig in and to go on this great quesr, right, and to begin to ask some of those deeper questions. So thank you for this as a gift to the church. Os, any final thoughts to pastors as we close down today?
No, except where I began, I would just say God bless you. Pastors are the key calling in the crisis of the Church in our time. So the Lord be with you. Have faith in the Lord and have courage and go out. Follow your great calling. What a privilege to be with you.
Amen. Thank you so much as God bless you, my friend. Now, before you go, I want to remind you of an incredible free resource that our team puts together every single week to help you and your team dig more deeply and maximize the conversation that we just had. This is the weekly toolkit that we provide. And we understand that it’s one thing to listen or watch an episode, but it’s something entirely different to actually take what you’ve heard, what you’ve watched, what you’ve seen, and apply it to your life and to your ministry. You see, FrontStage BackStage is more than just a podcast or YouTube show about ministry leadership, we are a complete resource to help train you and your entire ministry team as you seek to grow and develop in life in ministry. Every single week, we provide a weekly toolkit which has all types of tools in it to help you do just that. Now you can find this at PastorServe.org/network. That’s PastorServe.org/network. And there you will find all of our shows, all of our episodes and all of our weekly toolkits. Now inside the toolkit are several tools including video links and audio links for you to share with your team. There are resource links to different resources and tools that were mentioned in the conversation, and several other tools, but the greatest thing is the ministry leaders growth guide. Our team pulls key insights and concepts from every conversation with our amazing guests. And then we also create engaging questions for you and your team to consider and process, providing space for you to reflect on how that episode’s topic relates to your unique context, at your local church, in your ministry and in your life. Now you can use these questions in your regular staff meetings to guide your conversation as you invest in the growth of your ministry leaders. You can find the weekly toolkit at PastorServe.org/network We encourage you to check out that free resource. Until next time, I’m Jason Daye encouraging you to love well, live well, and lead well. God bless.
Shareable Social Graphics
Strengthen Your Church
Strengthening your church, for us, begins by serving you, the pastor!