One of the most important concepts that I have recently been addressing is cognitive dissonance (how the mind deals with opposing concepts). Our brain always seeks to limit the need to make decisions. Not only does the brain maneuver to do this internally, we also tend to make it a part of our social interactions. One of the motivations behind human affiliation needs is to find people with whom we can share our mores (values). Through group mores, we can rely on the group to help us make choices, hence limiting our own need to spend too much time on the process. One problem besetting the Body of Christ at this time is a lack of consistent mores as a group. Many Christians, under the influence of secular society, have bought into the concept of individual choice. The world is telling us that we should be free to be ourselves and make our own decisions and life choices. This is really a fantasy because, while the world is pushing this freedom, it is also making every effort to impose their values upon us. As individual Christians, we are making ourselves vulnerable to pressure from secular society without even realizing it. Hence, we are creating a situation where the Church is becoming less influential, not only in the world, but also with our children. If we are going to stand against the onslaught of the times, we need strong social connections! In addition, we must have shared values, and a consistent group influence, if we are going to live a lifestyle that will be salt and light to our world.
Are You in the World or Are You of It?
One way this has impacted the Church is that many Christians have aligned themselves with groups that share in some values. For instance, many Christians affiliate with conservative causes, so they also affiliate with conservative groups. This is normal and appropriate, but can be a problem if we do not have a corresponding affiliation with the Church. Certainly, no secular group will be fully committed with a Christian message based upon the scriptures. Among conservatives, there are many different backgrounds; some are not even Christian at all.
Jesus told His disciples that they must understand the need to be “in” the world, but not “of” the world. I believe, like many Christians today, we need to be connected in all areas of human endeavor, whether it be business, arts, or entertainment…just to name a few. However, if we become “of” those groups, it will not be long before we start sharing their mores and following their agendas. To remain the salt and light that Jesus articulated, it will require an ability to handle cognitive dissonance. As Christians, we must understand the importance of being both “in” the world, but not “of” the world if we are going to have an impact on our world. To operate at the most effective level for the kingdom of God, it will require a certain level of Christian maturity, as well as the humility of knowing that we were never meant to stand on our own!
Are you in the world as His emissary, or have your affiliations brought compromise to His agenda? Let’s make sure we are building on the rock; not finding a dwelling place on the sand!