Culture

Category Archives: Culture

Do You Believe in a Pharisee Jesus?

If you close your eyes and picture Jesus looking at you, what kind of look does he have on his face? I don’t know where I first heard someone ask that question, but I think answering it can be very helpful in revealing what we believe—on a day-to-day, real life basis—about who Jesus is and how he relates to us.

For example, do you see a Jesus who is constantly tallying up your sins and failings? Do you see a displeased Jesus, one who condemns you for a failure? Or maybe you see a Jesus that has little empathy for your problems and sufferings, one who either doesn’t care or is content for you to “get what you deserve.”

I’m convinced that a lot of Christians tend to see Jesus (and God the Father) in this light. Even so, this picture has more in common with the Pharisees that he repeatedly clashed with than in does with the real Jesus, the one we find in the pages of the Bible. So if you’re someone who is prone to think this way, consider the following truths about Jesus:

What Would Your Jesus Do?

The next time you hear someone ask the now (in)famous question “what would Jesus do” in reference to a real-life situation, try to pay careful attention to the answer. I’ll bet that more often than not it will involve something to do with helping, accepting, and/or loving people.

And that’s certainly understandable. After all, Jesus wasn’t afraid of getting his hands dirty to help people (figuratively and literally!). He often associated with people that others found culturally and morally objectionable. And of course, no one has ever loved like Jesus loved.

It’s hard to overestimate how important these descriptions are to understanding who Jesus is. But as crucial as they may be, they don’t give us the whole picture.

Is Your Jesus the Real Jesus?

In one exchange recorded in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus asks his disciples who people think he is. They reply with what they’ve heard: “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (see Mat. 16:13-20). One of the interesting things about the possible answers they report is that each is somewhat understandable given first century Jewish culture. Another notable thing is that every one of them is wrong.

Jesus’ next question for his disciples is one we’d do well to ask ourselves today: “But who do you say that I am?”

Whether you’re new to Christianity or been around it all your life, you might be surprised at how much your understanding of Jesus comes from the people and culture around you.

How to Talk to Your Kids About Sex

Talking to our kids about sex can be one of the more daunting and awkward things we do as parents. But if we don’t, who will?

As it turns out, lots of people. And that’s the problem.

Movies, music, and magazines, TV shows and their commercials, online images and everyday conversations with friends—they’re all regularly communicating ideas about sex to our kids. And those ideas are often a significant distortion of the good and powerful gift that God has given us in sex.

Consider a few illuminating stats:

The Cross, the Switchblade, and the Empowering Love of the Father

Yesterday was Easter Sunday and, as usual, Christians all over the world celebrated the truly-distinctive mark of their faith, one of the most well-documented and attested historical events in all of antiquity, namely the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from the dead. In academic circles, no one seriously denies that Jesus was an itinerant Jewish

The Hidden Influence of Your Social Media

Have you ever had a negative reaction to a politician or business who you thought was paying too much attention to public opinion instead of doing the good/right/admirable thing?

If you’re a social media user, you could be guilty of the same thing…without realizing it.

As reported by NPR, researchers recently monitored the brain activity of several teenagers as they looked at what appeared to be an Instagram feed. The feed contained the subjects’ photos, as well as photos that were presented to them as having been taken by their friends. The latter were actually selected by the researchers themselves.

And what did the study find?

You’re Being Watched (and That’s a Good Thing)

Do you realize that you’re being watched? At work. At school. In your neighborhood. At social events with your friends. At the grocery store and in the PTA meeting. At your kids’ sporting events. Maybe even at home.

No, I’m not talking about some Big Brother conspiracy. I’m simply pointing out the fact that people outside the Christian faith often have a front row seat to your life. And whether you realize it or not, what they see contributes to their view of what it means to believe in and follow Christ.

Now, if you’re like me, this is a bit unnerving. I’m not always the best representative of the Christian faith in my words and actions. On the other hand, it’s also a tremendous opportunity. Why? Because people often need to see that faith in Christ “works” in real life before they will consider embracing it for themselves. Seeing people they know living out their faith with integrity and winsomeness can provide motivation and vision for them to do the same.

And this leads me to three important points: