How to Deal With Loneliness

“I’ve Seen Lonely Times When I Could Not Find a Friend” ~ James Taylor

One of the most famous singer/songwriters of all time, writing one of the most heartbreaking songs of all time, lets us in on his loneliness.
How can someone that famous feel lonely – ever?

It’s common to everyone – rich, poor, famous, insanely famous – nobody gets a break from this emotion – one that, many times, feels impossible to deal with.

As someone in their early 50’s, I’ve experienced it multiple times. Some of these episodes lasted so long I began to wonder if it would ever end, while I’ve had other moments where I felt anything but lonely.

Currently, life seems fine, but I expect the next few chapters of my life to be just as marked by lonely times as the previous chapters have been.

But that doesn’t scare me. I don’t like feeling lonely, but I’ve learned how to deal with it, and to expect something good when it ends. Following are some tricks, truths, and challenges to help you if you’re struggling here.

1. Don’t Medicate it.

Loneliness is one of the most immediately painful emotions we experience. Unlike anger, jealousy, disgust, etc., loneliness hits hard, and the horrible feelings it stirs up are almost impossible to get away from.

Understandably, many of us try to find a quick escape, even if it’s a risky one.

Alcohol is a common go-to. It has an equally immediate effect, transporting us to a place where we at least remember that life isn’t so bad.

I come from a family of “big” drinkers who can frequently be found drowning life’s unsavory parts with booze. I have extensive experience here, and some thoughts about using alcohol to relieve the pain.

We all know that alcohol won’t eradicate the problem, it’s only a temporary fix. Our loneliness will be waiting for us after the buzz wears off.

But it will be bigger.

Somehow, our lonely feelings are exacerbated by the thing that we thought would make improve the situation.

Food is the #2 remedy of choice. Somehow, eating, especially unhealthy eating, gives temporary relief, but it has the same effect as alcohol. When the feelings come back, they’re stronger. In the same way, if we’ve tried to find comfort in food, our desire for more food with be stronger.

Food, alcohol, video games, movies, porn, exercise, work, etc., can all be used to distract us from the pain of feeling alone. While some of these activities aren’t inherently evil, they simply don’t work.

You can’t deal with loneliness by medicating it.

And medicating it adds the problem of addiction, making this a bigger problem than it needs to be.

Stand up to It.

Pain is good, usually a doorway into a better life. But in our culture pain is frequently viewed as a bad thing, which is why we run so quickly to unhealthy escapes when we feel lonely.

I’ve found that facing the pain – not running away or trying to medicate it- actually feeling it – helps. To be sure, that’s difficult to do because, well… it hurts.

But the pain that comes from feeling lonely can make us stronger if we’ll face it. This is like any other challenge in life – if we don’t run away, our character is affected. Strengthened. In facing our pain we grow up, becoming much more likely to act like an adult when things get difficult.

Strong people weren’t born strong, they became that way by responding appropriately when things were difficult.

Refusing to run from our pain is one of the best, quickest ways to improve our quality of life.

From experience, I can attest that facing your loneliness, sitting in it, letting it “hurt,” won’t kill you. If you can muster the courage, sitting in this pain can change you like nothing else. It will at least make your next bout with loneliness much easier.

You’re Not a Loser

A depressing thought that comes up for me in lonely times is the fear that there must be something wrong with me. If I was a “normal” person, a person worth loving, I wouldn’t feel so alone.

But that’s not the truth.

One of the challenges in how to deal with loneliness is forcing ourselves to believe the truth:

You’re not the problem.

You don’t need to change your look, your style, your manner, your status, your material inventory, your political views, your religion, or lack thereof. The most wealthy, beautiful, popular people in the world struggle with this.

It’s normal.

Loneliness is a difficult phenomenon to explain. We’ll all have chapters in life where things “work out,” and chapters where they don’t. It’s a weird truth, but simple, and reliable.

Make Sure You’re Connected

While the occasional “lonely” chapter is part of a normal life, there are times when our loneliness is caused by isolation, and that’s something that we can control.

“As John Cacioppo, a researcher in the field of loneliness, points out, loneliness is on the rise — from 11 percent to 20 percent in the 1970s and 1980s to 40 percent to 45 percent in 2010. So you are not alone in feeling lonely. Perhaps the recent breakdown of connectedness can be related to the decline of family connections, higher divorce rates, people moving more frequently, the decline of church attendance, or declining participation in organizations like the PTA and labor unions.”

Take a quick inventory of how you spend your day. If most of your time is spent working and vegging out in front of the TV, you’ve become isolated, cut off from others, and you’ll need to re-engage.

Here are some ideas to get you started in the process:

Go to church: That’s a non-starter for non-religious people, but some churches are great places to connect, serve with others, and make some decent friendships.

Check out a Meetup: What do you like to do? Great news – the world is full of people that like doing that as well. But how do you find them?

Enter Meetup, an online resource devoted to getting people of common interests connected. Here’s blurb from their site:

Meetup is about connecting people with something in common. From activities you love and hobbies you want to try, to ways you identify yourself and who you want to be, a Meetup group is a community. A community of people who come together because they care about the same thing.

Volunteer: Homeless shelters, inner-city schools, gardens, and a host of other non-profits operating in your city are always looking for volunteers. Serving with a group of people, even if you’ve never met them before, is a great way to rub elbows and find new friends.

If you have become disconnected from others, you’re going to have to ask yourself what happened. We tend to excuse ourselves from this with “I’m tired,” or that we don’t have time, but it’s usually more complicated than that.

Friendship can be difficult, full of that pain-that-builds-character that we talked about earlier. By adulthood, we’ve amassed quite a collection of unhealed hurts that have left us disinterested in building more friendships.

99% of the time friendships won’t kill you. They’re guaranteed to be annoying, disappointing, boring at times, and downright difficult, especially the close ones.

Solid friendships are part and parcel to a good life. And if you’re loneliness isn’t the “normal” kind, if it’s driven by a disconnection from others, friendship is the only way out.

Get back in the game.

Photo Credit: Noah Silliman via UnSplash

Will Your Church Cross the Culture Bridge?

I sat in service a few months ago and listened as one one of the pastors addressed the importance of “cross culture” ministry, i.e., reaching beyond the white church status quo to be welcoming and accommodating to people who aren’t like us.

He prefaced his sermon with this:

“If you look around this morning, you’ll see that we’re predominately white, and that’s OK because our city is predominately white. If it wasn’t, it’d be a bad thing because we’re supposed to represent the color of our community.”

I went home and did some quick demographic research on the city this pastor referred to in his sermon. He was right, his city was mostly white, except for one area where most of the non-white people lived, the neighborhood where his church resided.

A Bridge Too Far

Sunday morning is “our” time. We want to show up, hob-nob with our friends, catch up, connect, feel good, and be comfortable.

If there’s one thing we do well in the American church, it’s catering to the whims/preferences of her congregants.

Churches that offer compelling sermons, inspiring music, modern decor, and a nice snack bar are typically bigger than those lacking in these areas.

Because of this focus on entertainment, we’ve come to believe that Sunday morning should offer something – a good feeling, a deep thought, good friends. The idea that we should experience some discomfort here is anathema.

And rest assured that connecting with people of an entirely different culture is uncomfortable. It makes us feel inadequate. We don’t know what to say, how to connect.

My non-white friends have stories to tell about well-meaning whites who end up saying something insensitive, clueless, or downright offensive as they try to make a connection.

And people of color often speak of how white services are tailored to white culture. It’s something we could never understand.

We don’t mean to be this way. Our world is 99% caucasian. Our clueless perpetrations aren’t born from something bad, they’re simply a product of our segregated lives.

Ultimately, because crossing the culture bridge is uncomfortable, and because comfort seems to trump everything else on Sunday morning, most churches will never be able to make the journey, despite how much we want to be integrated.

Is that a bad thing?

Culture, White Christianity, and the Will of God

In my Evangelical camp, we’re talking about integration now more than ever before. I don’t know many pastors who believe that a multi ethnic church is a bad thing. Most believe that we should at least become more welcoming to people who aren’t like us, and that integration would be a “win.”

Why is this on everyone’s mind? Is it guilt? Social pressure?

Could it be God?

Is God moving His people into multi ethnic places of worship? Is this something that’s going to ultimately happen whether we want it to or not? This is question #1 as we consider being part of or leading a church that can cross culture.

As more pastors wrestle with this, more white thinkers and theologians are declaring the need for and benefits of multi ethnicity.

Should we get on board regardless of what it costs us?

But if you’ve ever been part of a white Evangelical church that’s sincerely tried to become more integrated, you’ve experienced first hand how many barriers are in place. We don’t just feel uncomfortable around non-whites, we’re threatened by them.

For many of us, this kind of exposure can be problematic, digging up racially prejudicial attitudes that are easy to live with when everything’s white. Our racism might be what’s holding us back.

Conservative white Christianity has never done well when it comes to integration, racial equity/equality, or dealing with its demons.

For example, we gave strong opposition to the Civil Rights movement. Freedom for Blacks threatened the status quo and we decided, somehow, that God almighty would never threaten any status quo, especially ours, despite the reams of Biblical stories devoted to the end of status quo’s.

This resistance has been part of conservative Christianity for a long time, and it’s still with us.

Our church once did a sermon on racism in America – it didn’t go over well.

White, Christian resistance to multi ethnic worship services is further evidence that God’s behind all of this. His people can frequently be found in opposition to His campaigns, especially when it costs them something, or flies in the face of the status quo.

Taking Things Personal

We should get on board. It’ll be difficult, and fraught with personal risk, personal cost, and, God forbid, discomfort.

But nothing good is easy. History tells us that God’s movements are always costly, which is why history also tells us that God’s people typically resist His movements.

If you’re thinking “No way – there’s nothing wrong with an all-white church,” you may want to reconsider what God is up to these days. We know that He’s always working to bring people to Himself, and our culture seems to be constantly pulling away from His values and that worries us.

But the Bible’s focus isn’t limited to evangelism and the importance of morality.

Neither is God’s.

He’s always working, moving, driving, healing – and calling His people to join Him in His work. But that’s always a risky, uncomfortable, status-quo annihilating proposition, so we, understandably, cherry pick the easy stuff.

But it’s the risky, uncomfortable, God-breathed campaigns that bring the most beauty, healing, and redemption into our world. Imagine if conservative Evangelicals would have gotten on board with the Civil rights movement. We’d have much more harmony and equity than we do now.

And far less anger and hatred.

Having crossed such a bridge, we’d be stronger, freer, and much more likely to follow God into more craziness.

Moving from our comfortable culture into a multi-ethnic expression of our faith is fraught with such craziness.

But before we talk multi-ethnicity at the corporate level, we need to think about how we’re going approach this problem on a personal level.

How do we become more culturally sensitive? How do we gain a deeper understanding of what our non-white visitors are going through on Sunday morning and beyond? How do we develop a sincere desire to connect with them?

Don’t be ashamed if you don’t have answers to these questions. Culture is a strong thing, and in some ways we’re victims of it.

Fortunately, because this is most likely a movement from God, strong Christian leaders who’ve navigated these treacherous waters have provided multiple resources to help kick start our journey.

Following are a Few (some of these are paid resources for which I get 0 kickbacks):

Better Together: Race, Reconciliation, And The Multiethnic Church (Video)

Rich Nathan led his large vineyard church in Columbus, Ohio through a painful transition into one of the largest multi-ethnic churches in the country. Access to his video series costs $49.00 but I promise you that you won’t regret it.

Below is an excerpt from Redeemer Presbyterian’s “Grace and Race” resources page. Redeemer is another large, very successful church that’s done some difficult, heroic work.

Race and the Christian: An Evening with John Piper and Tim Keller, Part 1*
John Piper and Tim Keller
Race and the Christian: An Evening with John Piper and Tim Keller, Part 2*
John Piper and Tim Keller
Worship in the African-American Experience
Worship in the Asian-American Experience
Worship in the Hispanic-American Experience
Panel Question and Answer
Hope, Race and Power
An Immigrant’s Courage
Hope for the City
The Gospel of Reconciliation 
Testimony by Dr. John Perkins
Is Diversity Possible? – E Pluribus Unum 
Open Forum
My God is a Rock — Listening to the African-American Spiritual

When considering the will of God, it’s important for us to consider the words, thoughts, and perspectives of influential Christian leaders in the areas they feel are most important.

If you’re not sure where to start, I can’t more highly recommend the above resources. You might not land where these leaders have landed, but you can consider their words prayerfully as you ask God, “Are you in this?” and, “If so, what’s my role?”

Photo Credit: Yoal Desurmont

Be the Good You Expect to See In The World

Road rage, political anger, mass shootings, divorce, depression – all on the rise here in the US. It’s frightening to think about where things are headed.

It’s easy, sometimes down right entertaining to pass judgment on people who perpetrate all this bad stuff. We talk about how they’re ruining our country, ruining the future, making things difficult for everyone.

We of course have nothing to do with what’s unraveling in our culture. We’re the good people – we never rant on social media, belittle someone for their political views, or react with rudeness and disrespect when a lowly employee doesn’t respond as they should.

We always, in every way possible, spread kindness and peace, right?

Not me. While I’m trying hard to be the good in this world, I can’t seem to help being “the bad.” And here’s why.

This might be hard to accept at first, and will sound trite and sing-songy, but hang with me here – few can argue this truth.

It’s all about peace.

Peaceful people are more likely to be the good than people who’s lives are driven by fear, disappointment, impatience, and all the other traits of an un-peaceful life.

I see this in my kids all the time. When a sense of peace comes over them, their entire mood changes. They can be in the middle of a fight, but if I tell them something like “hey, let’s go watch TV,” the fight stops, they remember that they love their siblings, and I get a break for an hour.

It’s not TV that did it, it was the sense of peace that came from knowing something good’s coming.

Be the Good – Getting Rid of What’s in the Way

If we can’t manage to live a peaceful life, we can’t be the good person we expect everyone else to be. Ultimately, we’re going to have to learn to stop managing our stress, and start managing our peace.

While living with a sense of peace is something anyone can do, it’s extremely difficult in a culture that doesn’t value it. Few of us have peace-finding at the top of our to-do list.

The best way to find peace is to find the peace that’s already there. We’ve all got it, but it easily gets covered up. Us humans are hard-wired for peace – not only do we want it, it’s who we are. But, along the way, we take on hurts, humiliations, crushed dreams, betrayals and general letdowns that get in the way.

In other words, to be the good we expect in everyone else, we’re going to have to remove the barriers to it that we’ve been carrying for most of our lives.

In my career as a pastor, I’ve noticed 3 things that tend to get in the way as we attempt to live a good life.

Self Rejection

Another word for this is shame, which is just as popular as all the unsavory things that it drives in our culture. Show me an angry person and I’ll show you someone who’s dealing with a mountain of shame; someone who can’t think about themselves without feeling horrible.

Some try to salve this with “accomplishment,” thinking, “If I can just achieve/procure X, I’ll feel good about myself. This is called conditional self-acceptance, and works when the planets align, but leads us to more shame when things don’t work out.

High  Expectations

We expect the world to deliver, harboring high hopes for our careers, our relationships, our tech, our future, etc. When frustration and disappointment come along, we lose our minds, like a spoiled child.

When things don’t work out as we should, peace is nowhere to be found.

Poor Health

An out-of-shape body can never house a peaceful mind. Biologically speaking, exercise, diet, and regular, good sleep release “happy” chemicals, reduce stress, and help us cope when our shame or unmet expectations try to coerce us to give up our peace.

Fear of Emotional Pain

But exercise is difficult, and dieting is harder. Over-eating, over-boozing, and over-whatever-ing are our number one methods for dealing with life’s unsavory parts.

So we get addicted to comfort, addicted to food/booze, we binge watch, we do whatever we can to avoid the pain of facing our problems. We live in a culture that’s come to believe that comfort should be everyone’s #1 priority.

And it’s stealing our peace…

…and our ability to be the good people we expect everyone else to be.

About a year ago, I made a drastic change in how I respond to my temptations to forfeit peace.

I’m now at a point where I view these temptations as an opportunity. Instead of coming up with a 3 step plan, or implementing some kind of boring, repetitive, overly structured intentionality bazaar, I simply wait for temptation, and do the right thing.

Again, trite and sing-songy, but it works.

For example, when I’m tempted to judge somebody (driven by my sense of shame), I pray for them, or think about what their life story might be. I try to bring something positive that might supplant the negative.

It’s hard, and digs up a lot of the dirt that I’ve been carrying most of my life, but when I can manage it, it works.

Same thing with overeating/overdrinking. If I can hold off for 10 minutes, convince myself that I’m looking for something much deeper than food and alcohol, I end up with more peace than I did before I was tempted.

And more peace means a better life.

As weird as this might sound, I’ve come to view temptation as an opportunity, an invitation to deal with the bad parts of my life so I can be more free, happier, and far more likely to be the good.

Compassion for Not So Good People, and Ourselves

The bad that surrounds us, and the bad that we perpetrate is always a symptom of something deeper. If we could see it for what it really is, we’d be heartbroken at how many of our comrades are hurting.

Maybe we’d be so heartbroken that we’d want to step in and help, instead of judging, finger pointing, and doing all the other stuff we think others shouldn’t be doing.

But our culture of high expectations, self-loathing, poor health, and love of comfort doesn’t do help, we don’t do compassion. It’s too hard. It requires too much.

It’s easier to convince ourselves that we’re being the good.

We need to come to grips with how our culture is running our lives, and the places where we’ve buried our peace so deeply that we feel like it’s gone.

We need to implement simple, easy to follow strategies that allow our peace to begin running the show, so that we can stop being part of the problem, and start being part of the good.

How to Overcome Disappointment by Adopting a New Perspective

One of the biggest differences between older folk and younger folk is hope.

Late 20-somethings don’t just live with vision, they tend to live with the belief that life will deliver.

For us soon-to-be-elderly mortals, we have a harder time living with the hope of our younger days. We’ve faced a mountain of disappointment, let-downs, betrayals, personal failures, etc. We’re like a kid who keeps getting socks for Christmas; we’ve come to expect nothing else

So we get boring. We settle.

Have pity. Some of us have had enough of “dreams.” Things didn’t work out. We got hurt, gave up, and can now be frequently found on the sofa in our bathrobes and black socks binge-watching someone else’s interesting life.

And for us Christians, it’s super hard to trust God when life isn’t going as we think it should.

But disappointment is part and parcel to a good life, especially a life that goes for the good stuff. The bigger the dream, the bigger the disappointments. It’s easy to get tired, discouraged, Continue reading How to Overcome Disappointment by Adopting a New Perspective

God Hates Sin: Especially the Sins We Think We’re Not Guilty Of

You don’t have to spend much time in church to learn that us Christian folk get confused about what God wants from us, what He wants us to avoid, and what He downright hates.

Some believe, for example, with every fiber of their being, that God hates all homosexuals. Many say that’s crazy, God loves everyone, but most of those folk don’t have any gay friends, or black friends, or liberal friends. If God loves all of these people, why don’t we?

Love doesn’t happen from a distance.

The answer? We’re confused. I don’t presume to clear everything up in one post, but I think, given our political discord, and all the hell that comes with it, a reminder of what God hates (and loves) might be a good thing this snowy Sunday AM.

7 Things God Hates

Let’s start with the Old Testament – tons of hateful God-things in that book. Most of the hate rhetoric in the American church today is Continue reading God Hates Sin: Especially the Sins We Think We’re Not Guilty Of

When Saints Seem Like Sinners, You Can Bet There’s a Change Coming

Following are excerpts from an article a friend wrote for Relevant Magazine. Michael Hidalgo is lead pastor/teacher of Denver Community Church and author of Unlost: Being Found by the One We Are Looking For, and Changing Faith: Doubts and Choices about an Unchanging God.

The highest vision of most churches is “safe.” We focus on making church predictable, comfy, typically full of people who think and live as we do. But, from time to time, God wants things to change, which, for whatever reason, means trouble, which won’t happen without troublemakers.

Troublemakers are the people who help God’s church make the changes He wants. They’re folks who have nothing to lose, and a clear vision of where things need to go. But because change can be so painful, these troublemaking servants of the Lord are often seen as “sinners.”

Change may be the only constant, but it is a terrifying idea for many. Many of us resist change, and are just fine with the way things are. Something in us knows change is a form of loss, and loss is painful. And change brings something else that few people like, the unknown.

When things stay the same, life is comfortable, predictable and familiar. And when that is threatened we become uncomfortable, uncertain and confused. We often find ourselves reacting against change, and we think of those leading change as troublemakers.

Continue reading When Saints Seem Like Sinners, You Can Bet There’s a Change Coming

When Bad Theology Meets a Caravan of Homeless People

There’s a large group of people heading towards our border, seeking shelter and a new home. As a friend helped me understand, we can’t process so many via our legal immigration system, so, unless we make drastic changes, there’s nothing we can do.

And let’s say we bend our rules a bit. What if we let them in and set up a compound of sorts, just within our border, providing food and shelter while we process these people. Can we handle such an influx? What about all the criminals and “known” terrorists in this caravan? And if we help them, wouldn’t that incite another caravan? Wouldn’t the poor and homeless of the world say, “Boom! Pack up, we’re heading to America!!”

We’d be screwed, right?

There’s a lot of anger here, especially from my Evangelical brothers and sisters. Listening to my camp, fielding their thoughts about all of this, I’d say that fear is driving the anger. Check out a few comments from my Facebook feed:

“Refugees don’t wave their nation’s flag while marching toward’s another country. Invaders do!”

“Massive caravan of illegals.. soon to be terrorists …headed toward the US.. knowingly going to break the law to enter the country.. with their children….WTF!!!!”

“No one has the right to march across our border, or into our homes, unannounced, uninvited, or unvetted. No one!”

“Heaven has a wall, a gate and a strict immigration policy. Hell has open borders. Let that sink in.”

Why are so many of the caravan’s future victims Continue reading When Bad Theology Meets a Caravan of Homeless People

I Believe in Ghost Stories – I Was in One

A quick back story before I talk about what happened.

First, I’ve never, at any point in my life, had some kind of spooky event where I was convinced that I had encountered something from the netherworld; except for the time that I was napping on the couch in an old house that some friends and I were renting.

We called it “The Mansion,” 2 stories, 100 years old, 5 beds, 5 baths, and a creepy old attic. The place took up half a city block. And a guy was murdered there.

During my nap, on the couch in the library, I had a dream that I was harassing some sort of demonic thing. I woke up, gasping for breath, and felt like there was something standing next to me.

But who knows, that can easily be explained away. I didn’t see or hear anything. I told some friends about it, we laughed it off, and I never had an encounter like that again, until the one I’m getting ready to talk about.

Second, about 100 years ago, the city of Denver decided to move one of its cemeteries, and turn it into a park, now called Cheesman Park.

Families were given 90 days to dig up their loved ones and bury them somewhere else. Not many responded, and the city was left with 100’s of bodies to deal with.

A guy named E.P. Mcgovern was hired, and offered $1.90 for each body exhumed, given a fresh casket, and relocated to Denver’s Riverside cemetery. McGovern took the deal, and quickly figured out that he could make more money if he put each body in a child-sized coffin. Most of the bodies he relocated were hacked up and stuffed in the smaller caskets.

All of this was done in public – broad daylight. Continue reading I Believe in Ghost Stories – I Was in One

The Importance of Saying I’m Sorry

I recently watched a friend do something stupid to another friend, but friend #1, clearly in the wrong, won’t apologize.

I’ve been there. I’m married with kids, a former pastor and business owner, surrounded by opportunities to screw up, rarely feeling like I should apologize when I do. But I’ve never sat down and pondered on why apologizing is so hard – why us ‘Mericans do it so infrequently; why, so many times, we’ll let a relationship end before we’ll say our “sorrys.”

It’s not because we don’t know how to make an apology.

We hate apologizing because it hurts to feel “wrong.” We need to feel “right,” like we’re one of the few good people in the world. That’s why we’re living with so much political anger – it’s not about the issues, or the candidates, our anger is about us feeling like our side is right and the other side’s wrong.

If feels good, especially for people who typically feel bad about themselves. I”m in that boat. I’ve met few who aren’t.

I’d say that our need to feel right is so strong that it scares us to admit when we’re not. It’s frightening to be vulnerable, to let people see our weakness – our dark side(s).

We frequently say that pride gets in the way of a good apology, but I think fear is the culprit. We don’t apologize because we’re scared – we lack the courage to do the right thing Continue reading The Importance of Saying I’m Sorry

What Jesus Meant When He Said “Follow Me,” and How it Should Affect Our Political Anger

To Jesus’ followers back in the day, “Follow me” was a literal statement, something akin to, “hey, I’m heading to this particular geographic location, come with.” As a rabbi, it was also an invitation to accept His teachings, which for this army of ragtag volunteers meant certain physical danger.

For them, it was hard to screw up, misinterpret, or miss Jesus’ meaning altogether because He would immediately get in their face and make an attempt at setting them straight.

We don’t have that today. We’ve got our Bibles, and our interpretations of our Bibles, and our Christian culture, and from that we try to figure out the life that Jesus wants us to live. We don’t have Jesus in our faces every time we get something wrong.

For many of us, especially us Evangelicals, we’ve distilled His invitation to “follow” into three categories:

  • Think the right things about Jesus and God (theology)
  • Embrace a particular list of rules and try hard not to break them (morality)
  • Protect our world from moral decay (politics)

I’d add an unwritten rule to this list: no matter what the cost, be safe. Don’t get in trouble, don’t make anyone mad (unless they’re not Christian) and for God’s sake don’t get yourself killed.

As an Evangelical of 30 years I understand this list, and with the exception of being a dyed in the wool conservative, this is my list too – especially the safety part. I don’t like physical pain, or danger, or fear, and there are plenty of places I could go and get hurt telling people about Jesus. Continue reading What Jesus Meant When He Said “Follow Me,” and How it Should Affect Our Political Anger